Meeting Mentor Magazine

June 2024

Budgets to Get a Bump in 2023

Almost two-thirds of meeting planners in a recent survey said they expect to see their budgets increase this year to keep abreast of rising costs. Here’s the data.

Sixty-one percent of planners asked in a recent survey by event-production firm Encore said they expected to see their 2023 budgets increase this year, while 30% predicted their budget would remain flat. More than half of those expecting an increase said it would go up between 11% and 25%, while 28% were more in the 1% to 10% range. A fortunate 15% said their budgets could go up between 26% and 50%, but only 5% were optimistic they’d get a bigger bump than 50%.

Not surprisingly, food and beverage was the biggest line item, with 62% expecting they would spend at least a little — or a lot — more on everything from coffee to cupcakes this year. Hotel rooms rates were not far behind, with 61% of planners anticipating having to devote a bigger chunk of their budget on housing. The next highest budget category was air and ground transportation, with 57% saying they were having to increase their budgets to cover this area — though it was a tie with F&B when it comes to expecting to have to pay significantly more, at 18% each. AV and in-room event tech also is going to be a budget-cruncher for planners, with 34% anticipating have to spend a bit more, and 13% thinking it’s going to be a much bigger expense this year than previously.

But hopefully the budget bump-ups will be somewhat ameliorated by increases in attendance — 62% of respondents said they expected more to come to their meetings and events in 2023. And 39% say their attendance should increase by at least 10%, though just 4% are expecting to beat previous attendance by more than 50%. And most of those attendees will be in person, with more than 60% saying their events would be in person in Q2 and Q3 this year. Just 15% say they plan to hold hybrid events over the same time period, while virtual events drop to just 11% by Q3 this year.

One reason that in-person events are surging again to the top of most organization’s event programs is that networking and relationship-building, both of which are notoriously more difficult in an online format, were by far the most valuable service their events provided to attendees. Seventy-four respondents named networking a top reason for attending, followed by connecting people and employees to an organization’s mission/vision/values, and education/training/professional development opportunities, both of which were top for 61%. More than half said a feeling of belonging to the organization and its culture was a top value of attending, followed by celebrating/recognizing hard work and/or wins.

“Whether your goal is to drive professional relationships or deliver education, neither activity occurs in a vacuum,” the report said. “For example, educating attendees on an organization’s mission can help them feel more connected, give them a purpose for being there, and encourage engagement with one another that inspires action. Strategic educational programming also provides a great atmosphere for learning and personal growth, and can set the stage for more intentional networking conversations that greatly enhance the overall experience … [Therefore] it might be worthwhile to focus on these core points in your programming and weave them into the content to be delivered.”

The research was based on a survey conducted in December 2022 of 723 respondents, most of which identified as either corporate or association planners. Download a copy of the report here.

How are your 2023 event budgets shaping up? Please share your thoughts by emailing the editor at

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates.

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually.

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