Despite buzz about a tilt toward small gatherings, about one-third of associations expect at least 1,000 attendees at their events in the coming year, according to a survey by South American MICE Alliance. The organization includes the South American cities of Bogota, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lima, Peru; Quito, Ecuador; and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The survey had responses from 597 association and 345 corporate clients from 16 countries, including Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, United States, Mexico and United Kingdom. The aim was to gauge their perception of what lies ahead for business meetings, conventions and incentive trips.

In 2022, a large portion—43 percent—of associations’ members plan to participate in international events. Considering that others surveyed plan to travel internationally in either the first or second half of 2021 (seven and 32 percent, respectively), this is promising news for the international hospitality industry. When asked how associations plan to organize their events in 2021 and beyond, 65 percent of respondents said they plan on going hybrid. This makes sense, in light of the fact that 78 percent of those surveyed believe increasing their virtual audience will positively contribute to the consolidation of their events.

Not so surprisingly, compliance with safety protocols was rated the most important factor when deciding on a destination to host an event. Pricing was rated second most important and support of CVBs came in third. Post-Covid, nearly half—48 percent—of associations believe participants will be interested in touristic activities before, during and after the event, and that this will be fundamental in their attendees’ travel decisions.

The corporate side of things doesn’t look much different as compared to associations. When asked if they are willing to organize incentive trips abroad and when, 42 percent of corporate respondents replied in 2022; 24 percent said it will be in the second half of 2021; seven percent are not yet willing to travel outside their home country.

One thing seems certain: There will be a comeback in the MICE industry. Pinpointing when may be tough, but the upswing is evident.