“Think outside the box.” It’s a mentality event and hospitality professionals have long leaned into—and during the struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic, have embraced more than ever.
While leisure travel has mostly returned to pre-pandemic levels, corporate groups are showing a bit more caution: According to an April 2022 report by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and Kalibri Labs, U.S. hotel business travel revenue is projected to be 23% below pre-pandemic levels this year.
But there are signs to feel confident about. A recent analysis—conducted by the San Diego State University School of Hospitality & Tourism Management on behalf of AHLA—found organizations that resume business travel and in-person meetings more quickly are likely to have a competitive edge.
To help incentivize companies to book in-person gatherings, hotels and other event venues have been thinking beyond the boardroom, leaning into unconventional experiences centered around team building, mental health, wellness, sustainability, and more. Here’s what we’re seeing now.
1. In-person gatherings are all about celebration right now.
Cari Ruppert—director of sales, marketing, and events at Maryland’s Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina—is seeing groups focused on celebrations and morale-building rather than strictly business. “Events are serving as the in-person environment for colleagues to connect and build relationships and strengthen their team,” she explains.