In-Person Events Are More Popular Than Ever

Germany Again Claiming Top Spot in Latest MMGY Study


MMGY Global released new findings from wave IV of its study "Portrait of European Meeting & Convention Travel", for which event planners and event attendees from Europe were surveyed in late 2023. The study – supported by the GCB and other partners – underscores Germany's top position among European meeting destinations, the demand for in-person events, as well as the growing importance of sustainability issues.

One-third of the surveyed planners believe the EU meeting and conventions scene has reached pre-pandemic-levels, and another third believe it will reach that level in 2024. In-person meetings are making a strong comeback, with Germany leading the way as the preferred destination.

According to MMGY Global’s latest study wave, Germany holds the top spot for past and future meetings among attendees, solidifying its position as the most popular international market. The surveyed planners also rank Germany as the most popular location for past meetings. Planners and attendees alike tend to favor hotels and conference venues, with historic venues experiencing a decline in overall appeal among attendees. The primary concerns for attendees revolve around the convenience of reaching the host destination and an engaging conference program.

Categories of events in the next two years from the planners' perspective.

In-Person: Yes, Please – But Make It Count

From the perspective of planners, the resurgence of in-person meetings is evident, with attendees echoing the sentiment by expressing a preference for these formats. Not only are in-person events favored, but they are also perceived as the most effective method of gathering. Education and relationship-building are cited as primary reasons for participating in events, with eight in 10 planners noting that clients seek interactive sessions and workshops.

Moreover, well-being and time-out options play a significant role in decision-making for meetings and events, with thirty-nine percent of respondents considering these factors when choosing which gatherings to attend.

Reasons to attend meetings and events.

Sustainable Meetings and Bleisure Trips On the Rise

Attendees are increasingly acknowledging the significance of sustainability in meetings – a trend confirmed by planners. Six out of 10 attendees demonstrate a willingness to invest more in supporting environmental and sustainable initiatives. However, topping attendees’ wish lists is a reduction in business-related travel by their companies. Planners note a surge in demand for sustainability within meetings and are more proactive than ever in implementing sustainable practices.

The impact of climate change on event execution is another factor that concerns planners: While the majority were not affected in 2023, nearly 9 in 10 believe destination selection will be affected by extreme temperatures and wildfires.

Compared to the study’s Wave III (summer 2023), a notably higher number of planners report clients requesting alternative transportation options to air travel, restaurants offering locally sourced food, encouragement to utilize public transportation, and a preference for suppliers with sustainability certifications.

Furthermore, forty percent of attendees seize the opportunity to extend international business trips for leisure purposes, while a third do the same for domestic trips. Two-thirds of them plan to bring their spouse or partner along.

Relevance of sustainability credentials from event planners' perspective.

Increasing Events’ Reach Through Technology

Although in-person meetings are significantly more popular (only two in 10 attendees prefer hybrid or virtual meetings), four in 10 attendees say they are likely or extremely likely to attend hybrid or virtual meetings within the next two years. Seven in 10 planners organized in-person meetings, with approximately a quarter arranging virtual and/or hybrid meetings. One possible explanation is that attendees are able to incorporate additional events into their schedule through technology, events they might not have been able to participate in otherwise.

One specific technology-related area that still holds a lot of potential in planners' work is the use of AI tools. According to the MMGY survey results, a little over a third of planners have already used ChatGPT or other AI tools. The most popular areas of use are content creation and idea generation. This implies that about two-thirds of planners have yet to tap into AI tools. Half of this group—essentially one-third of all respondents—have no intention of doing so either. Given various individual reasons, there's a significant potential demand here for training and the joint exploration of future AI applications to enhance human creativity.

Digital technologies can significantly increase events' reach.

Outlook: Meetings Made in Germany

Given the developments outlined above, Germany stands in an excellent position as a sustainable platform for business events to solidify and enhance its top spot as an international meetings destination. As the demand for interactive in-person events and enriching experiences continues to rise, the German business events landscape offers an ideal blend of educational opportunities, networking prospects, and well-being initiatives.

At the end of April 2024, the GCB will release the results of the new Meeting- & EventBarometer study, which will provide further insights into the market's development as well as the potential of various trend topics like AI.

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