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Four Ways to Leverage the Shifting Events Trends of 2023

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Staying on top of what’s happening in the events industry can help planners navigate new challenges—and sweeten their attendance numbers. Here’s what to know. 

When planners put on a successful event, the attendees network, stay up to date on important topics, and have some fun—and the host organization generates more revenue. The challenge is that what makes for a successful event is constantly evolving. 

Planners who are aware of emerging trends can make better sense of the shifting landscape and put themselves at an advantage to boost attendance, ultimately helping organizations achieve revenue goals. Here are four ways to do that. 

Attach Leisure Opportunities to the Event 

Attendees might be budget-conscious right now, but they’re still splurging on leisure travel. Business travel, on the other hand, has been slower to return to pre-pandemic levels. To encourage association members to travel to an event, play up the leisure angles. Consider booking an appealing destination and negotiating flexible room packages to allow longer stays. 

The American Farm Bureau Federation makes this a regular practice, scheduling its annual convention in warmer climates in early January, when most farmers and ranchers are not working in their fields. 

“Our attendees turn it into a vacation,” said John Hawkins, managing director of conventions and operations at the Farm Bureau. “We’ve had some destinations where our first room will check in before the new year, and our last room sometimes won’t check out till February.” 

Find out what makes a destination special and promote that to attendees. For example, Puerto Rico has beautiful beaches, but so do many spots in the U.S. “Puerto Rico has additional things to put on the table, like our culture. That’s something that makes the destination unique. The gastronomy. The hospitality,” said Mariela Vallines, executive director of the Puerto Rico Convention District Authority. “You need to put those values on the table and complement the main need of a business trip with things they might not find anywhere else.” 

Navigate Booking Challenges 

Planners are feeling the pain of staffing shortages, which might require a more thoughtful booking process: 47 percent of planners report that availability is among today’s top challenges. 

Hawkins noted that staff shortages at convention and visitors bureaus and hotels have led to delays in responses and a string of inexperienced personnel. While he was planning one meeting, the convention services manager changed four times. 

“I find myself on calls all the time now where I am working with someone who’s new to the industry or has just changed roles,” he said. “It’s forcing us to be a little bit more understanding, a little more patient.” 

Follow-up conversations help, but so can getting creative with destination choice. Opting for a site that’s off the beaten path could mean that venues have more availability—essential in a tight events market.  

Focus on the Face-to-Face 

To get people to travel, planners need to demonstrate the value that can only be gained at a face-to-face event. 

“For us, bringing the farmers and ranchers together is extremely important,” Hawkins said. “That may be the only opportunity they have to meet in person, to share best practices in the agriculture and ranching industry.” 

Hawkins said his delegates come to meetings to get their hands dirty, literally. “I can’t show you a cow-calf operation over Zoom,” he added. “You want to know what it’s like to put your hands on it.” 

Beyond the necessity for hands-on applications, the Farm Bureau incorporates the destination’s culture into its events, something that members can only experience by showing up. Hawkins recalled the food at his group’s Puerto Rico event, a point of pride for Vallines. 

“The feedback we get from meeting planners once they’ve had their event in Puerto Rico is that they’re impressed with our infrastructure, our culture, our gastronomy, which is a wonderful mix of Africans, Tainos, and Spaniards,” she said. 

Emphasize Diversity and Inclusion 

Associations that place an emphasis on diversity and inclusion in their events—something 35 percent of organizations are prioritizing for in-person events in 2023, according to research from Omnipress—can build trust among their members. 

Although the American Farm Bureau Federation doesn’t explicitly ask venues about diversity efforts in requests for proposals, it is a consideration when conducting site visits, Hawkins said. “We make certain that diversity is addressed in some way in our agreements,” he said. 

Discover Puerto Rico is committed to being an LGBTQ-friendly destination, and this inclusive mindset bears out in the associations that chose to host their meetings there in 2023, including the American Farm Bureau Federation in January, the American Society of Travel Advisors in May, and the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association in October. 

“We are an open and friendly destination that will be able to cater to whatever group chooses to come to Puerto Rico,” Vallines said. 

Give Attendees What They Need 

There’s no formula for boosting attendance, just a principle: speaking to attendees’ needs. Keeping those needs in mind through these four trends can help you create the event that will lure delegates back to in-person events—helping you achieve your attendance goals. 

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Discover Puerto Rico is the official destination marketing organization for Puerto Rico. Its mission is to bring prosperity to Puerto Rico by collaboratively positioning the diverse and unique island as a premier destination for leisure, business, and events. Its vision is to become a transformational, results-oriented, and innovative organization, powering sustainable economic growth. To learn more, visit

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