Business events returned to “pre-pandemic” level

Experts from the Aeroclub Tour MICE agency conducted a study of the demand for business events among representatives of Russian and foreign businesses operating in Russia, and found out how it changed in the first quarter of 2022, which events were canceled, and which remain in demand.

According to the study, despite the omicron wave and the start of a special military operation in Ukraine, the results of the first quarter of 2022 in terms of business MICE activities exceeded those of 2021 by 70% and almost equaled the volumes of the “pre-pandemic” 2019 (-3%) . Moreover, if in February, due to the omicron, about 30% of large business events and a small number of medium and small events were canceled or postponed, then in March the number of cancellations related to security, the economic situation, as well as the closure of airports in southern Russia and a number of foreign destinations, reached about 90% of large events, 70% of medium and 7% of small events. However, the cancellations mainly affected events scheduled for April and beyond, and therefore did not have a negative impact on the first quarter. International corporations accounted for the largest number of cancellations, reducing almost all large and medium-sized events and continuing to hold only small events such as round tables. A complete suspension of events was noted in the automotive and a number of FMCG companies.

“The pent-up demand that we observed at the end of 2021, which led to an increase in the number of business events in December by 15 times compared to the beginning of the year, had a positive effect on the first quarter of 2022. Despite current events, March lags behind the “pre-pandemic” 2019 by only 10% of the year, and according to our forecasts, April will be able to maintain this momentum, the gap with 2019 will be only 12-15%,” Andrey Zinkovetsky, General Director of Aeroclub Tour, shared.

Experts noted a drop in the share of large business events with more than 500 participants: if in Q1 2021 they accounted for about 10% of the total volume of MICE activities, then in Q1 2022 their share was less than 5%. At the same time, the share of small events with less than 50 participants has increased to 75% (65% in 2021), while medium-sized events have reduced their share from 25% to 20%. Online events accounted for 3% of the total number of events. Among smaller events, round tables were the most popular. Experts noted a decrease in the budget of such an event – if in 2019 it cost about 120 thousand rubles on average, now the average bill is 60 thousand rubles. The budget of medium-sized events has also been reduced, among which conferences are in the greatest demand — in the “pre-pandemic” 2019, the average cost of such an event was 1.3 million rubles, and in 2022 the budget was reduced to 600 thousand rubles. The cost of organizing major events has not changed.

The largest event in the first quarter of 2022 was the cycle meeting of a pharmaceutical company held in Moscow. It was attended by 900 people, the budget amounted to more than 80 million rubles.

“We noted an increase in demand for team building — this format is in demand both as part of entertainment events and in the form of individual team building events. Remote work and general turbulence require the support of employees and team cohesion. On the other hand, a number of companies, on the contrary, refuse any additions to the main program and hold exclusively business events without “entertainment”, Andrey Zinkovetsky shared.

The depth of booking has also changed – on average, companies make a decision to hold an event only 2 weeks before the expected date, a similar planning horizon applies to cancellations, as well as postponements of planned events.

“Due to the economic situation, many event and MICE agencies are faced with a lack of liquidity and the need for loans at 26-27%, and banks often refuse loans even under such conditions. Postpaid is a hot topic again in the industry, and some agencies are already refusing to work this way. In general, there is a trend in the market to redistribute volumes: a number of suppliers cannot meet either financial obligations or operating standards, large customers give their volumes to more reliable market players,” Andrey Zinkovetsky commented.

In the first quarter of 2022 Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan and Novosibirsk became the most demanded cities for holding events. Foreign locations accounted for less than 5% of the events that took place in the UAE, Georgia, Armenia and Kazakhstan. The most frequent events in Q1 2022 were held by pharmaceutical, FMCG companies and representatives of consulting and financial companies.

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