Following 15 months of tossing about on stormy seas, landfall is finally in sight and there’s a warm wind leading us back to harbor. Once docked, we’ll take stock, crew up and, with the rising tide, we’ll hoist up that John B sail and set off again. That’s now my firm view on recovery in the Business Events industry and it’s exciting to share it.

Most of us detected the changing wind direction when vaccination programs, following a shaky start in some locations, gained pace and started to impact positively on case numbers of Coronavirus, allowing for an easing of restrictions.

Live events have now started again in many destinations, albeit with restricted numbers and social distancing, but this is definitely the shape of things to come. Some EU countries are now doing “test events” for larger numbers of participants, preparing the ground for a wider, more comprehensive return to normality.

I’m also taking great comfort from SITE Foundation’s recent Corporate InSITEs study which presents an entirely favorable forecast for the future of incentive travel. The survey results from 50 US corporations, who use incentive travel as a key element in their reward and recognition program, were delivered during SITE’s recent all nite telethon – another precursor of unlimited hope for the future of our industry.

According to the study 94% of these corporations remain committed to live, incentive travel experiences and, following the turbulence of 2020 and early 2021, only 2% say that they’ve permanently transitioned to non-travel rewards.

Over 80% of the company’s expect to operate a live domestic meeting in the current year with 40% of these domestic meetings happening in Q3. For domestic incentives the outlook is still positive with about 55% of companies expecting to operate a domestic incentive travel experience before the end of 2021.

Naturally, recovery for international corporate meetings and incentive travel programs is less imminent but these US corporations tell us that more international incentives (35%) will occur in 2021 than meetings (30%). You can find a full presentation deck on the results on SITE’s website.

There’s a warm wind blowing these days and it’s not just because I live in Arizona!