Meeting Volume Beats Pre-Pandemic Levels — Again

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Meeting volume exceeds 2019 for the second month in a row. Does this mean we’re back to business as usual?

In December, meeting volume reached 103.1 percent of December 2019 levels. That’s two months in a row that monthly meeting volume outperformed pre-pandemic levels, according to Knowland’s final 2022 U.S. monthly meetings and events data. Knowland began tracking and releasing monthly group recovery data in October 2020 to inform the industry as hoteliers and event planners began to look toward recovery efforts.

While December 2022 was down by 16.4 percent over the previous month — which is to be expected due to the usual seasonal slowdowns the last month of the year — it jumped 141.5 percent over December 2021, when COVID variants were ramping up in a much bigger way than they did this past year.

“For the second month in a row, the U.S. exceeded 2019 volumes,” said Kristi White, chief product officer, Knowland. “The world and our industry are irrevocably changed, but we can’t look back any longer. It’s time that we stopped talking about recovery and started looking forward to understand better how we can capitalize on the future.”

Not only are more meetings being held, but the average number of attendees per event also is up compared to the past several years. In December 2022, the average number of attendees per event was 111. In December 2021, that number was 99, and it was just 82 in December 2019. The average space used per attendee, however, remained fairly steady over previous years. The average space used in December 2022 was 2,575 square feet, compared to an average of 2,248 square feet in December 2021., and 2,253 square feet in 2019. This means that, from a per-person perspective, 2022 and 2021 meetings used an average of 23 square feet per person, compared to 27 square feet per person in 2019.

While association meetings are coming back, almost 55 percent of events held in December were corporate. Healthcare was the largest industry segment holding meetings in December 2022, followed by transportation, sports entertainment, consumer goods, agriculture and aerospace.

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