Asia sticks to virtual meetings in 2023 even as travel opens up

Skift Take

Asia has reopened, but higher travel costs for in-person meetings and perhaps fewer remote workers are stifling that need for human contact. Zoom it is, at least until 2023.

Matthew Parsons

A new meeting forecast describes how “virtual fatigue” has largely prevailed across the globe. However, in some parts of the world, it’s more about ‘virtual resilience’.

A higher percentage of companies in the Asia-Pacific region are set to hold virtual and hybrid meetings and events in 2023 compared to other regions, despite many countries easing their travel restrictions.

Nearly half of respondents (47 percent) in Asia Pacific to a survey conducted by the meetings division of American Express Global Business Travel said they expected meetings to be hybrid. That compares with 41 percent in Latin America, 33 percent in Europe and 29 percent in North America – a region that is seeing a stronger-than-expected recovery.

In-person meetings in Asia Pacific will also be the most expensive, says the Global Meetings and Events Forecast 2023. An in-house meeting is expected to be $711 per attendee per day, while in North America it is expected to cost $554 per attendee per day. A small and simple meeting in Europe is expected to cost $427 per participant per day, compared to $565 in Asia Pacific.

The caution is understandable, given stricter rules travel and mass gatherings in certain countries. However, countries such as Australia and New Zealand were able to reopen their borders relatively early, while more recently Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan lifted most travel restrictions.

And respondents in the region are also cautious about predicting when in-person participation numbers will return to 2019 levels: just 61 percent said it would happen in the next one to two years and 36 percent in the next three to five years.

Small, simple meetings surpass 2019 levels

It’s a different picture in North America, with Amex GBT’s meetings division seeing the number of “domestic and small and simple meetings” recover strongly.

“This was true for our Meetings & Events,” said Gerardo Tejado, senior vice president, global value development and general manager, Meetings & Events at Amex GBT. “We’ve seen the number of meetings during certain months and locations exceed 2019 levels, and our customers’ small and simple meetings are up 25 percent.”

North America was also the region with the highest percentage of completely remote workforces, based on survey data.

The annual report involved 500 respondents representing companies, associations, buyers and suppliers from five continents and 23 countries.

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