ICE Report

Event spending to rise by 83 per cent in 2023, says annual ICE report

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Spending on events and brand experiences within the corporate sector is expected to rise by as much as 83 per cent, according to the annual ICE Report. However, the report warns that this is not just a sign of growing confidence in events, but a reflection of the “spiralling” cost of running events as inflation and the cost of materials, people, and fuel all begin to impact the sector.

The report also uncovered the key challenges that brands, and their event departments, look to face as we enter 2023 with sustainability (59 per cent), remaining a key challenge. The issue was ranked ahead of “measurement of event performance” (51 per cent), which remains a key issue, and “ensuring the brand is represented consistently across events” (41 per cent). Diversity, equity and inclusion (37 per cent) is a key issue and has also now risen into the top five challenges.

In addition, the report reveals that many event organisers still struggle to capitalise on attendee and engagement data from their in-person events. Forty-one per cent of respondents said that in-person experiences don’t provide the insights they need, even though 59 per cent look to use in-person data for “making a business case for future budgets”, 53 per cent for “improving overall event strategy” and 51 per cent for “developing future content”.

The report is produced annually by ICE (In-house Corporate Events) – supported by Cvent – and reflects the sentiments of those event professionals that work solely within brands.

Anita Howard, CEO and founder of ICE, commented: “After a tough few years for the industry, the report shows a return to form with investments in events going up and the continued, although gradual, move of the event professional up the ladder in terms of marketing mix.”

Felicia Asiedu, senior marketing manager at Cvent Europe, said: “It’s great to see that so many organisers recognise the unique opportunity we have to leverage our in-person and virtual event platforms to drive real change and positively impact the lives of people around us and the world we live in – especially as it relates to sustainability and DEI. However, the fact that so many industry professionals are struggling to gather the right data from their in-person events is a concern – especially given how many respondents highlighted the incredible value they place on data. Through a more focused approach and the use of integrated technology solutions, planners can  better support data capture to deliver robust reporting with powerful insights.”

In other areas of the report, lead times continue to be a challenge for in house event organisers with just six per cent given more than 12 months’ notice on event programmes. However, for the first time in a year, the report says that average team sizes are increasing, up from an average of 16-17 to 19-20.

Since the first edition of the report in 2019, there has also been an upward trend in the number of event planners reporting to the marketing function, a move that ICE advocates for. However, a notable proportion of respondents still report to a variety of business functions, which the organisation sees as an issue for the industry as events look to show their value within large corporate organisations. In 2020, 49 per ent reported into marketing; this year however the number has risen to 55 per cent.

Howard concluded: “Within the report, there was an undercurrent of concern bought up around flexible working, working from home and mental health resource which shows event professionals taking on greater strain. As the industry gets back into prosperity, we do need to protect our people from burnout and other mental health strain.”