The World’s Best Business Events (And The People Who Create Them) 

At IBTM World in Barcelona last year, I moderated a panel discussion entitled ‘The World’s Best Business Events - And the People Who Create Them’. The session, and aptly named report is available to view On Demand, and serves as a global temperature check on the MICE industry and the individuals who drive its success.

Short for time? Scroll to the bottom to discover the key takeaways.

Over half (57%) of the survey’s respondents confessed that restricted budgets are now one of the biggest challenges they face. A staggering 79% said that their event planning role had become more stressful and 90% reported that despite taking on more responsibilities since the pandemic, they had seen no change in their reward packages.

The two panellists who joined me on stage to discuss the survey’s findings were Jessica Charles, Vice President of Programming & Events at Forbes and Adam Azor, EVP of Global Marketing at Sportradar, a sports data and technology company.

Both have contributed to the written report, and both agree that tight budgets and not enough technology-driven solutions are key contributors to the challenges and stress experienced by planners today.

“We’re seeing a labour shortage and we’re feeling the effects of high inflation on costs,” says Charles. “There has to be a conversation and flexibility built into budgets because what’s right for the brand and what’s right for the audience isn’t always reflected in how much you have to spend.

“For instance, at Forbes, we feed our attendees well and they expect a certain level of luxury. I may be able to get the F&B cost down one year due to my relationships or by cashing in a few favours, but that doesn’t mean the F&B budget should shrink for subsequent years. Event leadership needs to understand what you do to make these events happen and consider that when setting line item budgets.”

Charles also advocates for larger technology budgets since: “audio-visual is expensive and good AV can make or break your event”.

Investing in technology is also a vital contingency for when plans change. 

Charles tells the audience about the time when Hilary Clinton was due to speak at a Forbes event in Abu Dhabi but conflict in the Middle East meant that she had to deliver her talk remotely and be live-streamed into the venue instead.

“That was extremely expensive to organise,” Charles recalls. “There will always be things you can’t plan for but that’s the nature of events so budget planning needs built-in flexibility to cater for that.”

Despite the challenges, 65% of respondents to the Culture Creators survey thought that businesses now recognise the vital importance of events.

According to Sportradar’s Azor, this is due to how B2B marketing has evolved over the past decade and how technology is used to prove ROI and track metrics such as attendee engagement.

He also notes that more brands now stage ‘owned events’ to control the customer journey, curate the content, and monetise the experience through sponsorship.

“Category leaders with big budgets were the first to make a move into brand-owned events. A key example is Dreamforce from Salesforce,” Azor notes. “We started doing Sportradar Connect so that we could determine which prospects and customers to invite, what content to deliver and then film it, package it up and distribute it digitally to increase our reach and drive more leads.

“B2B event marketing is about having a healthy balance of brand-owned activities and third-party activations such as trade shows and conferences. It gives you a deeper integration with measurement, ROI, plus tracking and results for a more effective overall strategy.”

Azor and Charles both agree that MICE professionals now need to be more intentional about how they speak with different audiences, which is another cause of stress.

Azor adds that as AI develops to reduce some of the pain points and eradicate some of the more mundane manual tasks, it too will likely bring more challenges and stress but MICE professionals are nothing if not resilient and can adapt.

Despite all this, however, 64% of survey respondents said they’d still recommend the MICE industry to a friend. Charles and Azor concur.

“I don’t think I’d recommend it to every friend as it takes a certain personality to succeed in events,” Charles concludes. “But we love what we do and for the right person, it’s an industry that’s incredibly rewarding. We literally give everything to ensure that our audiences get the most out of their time at our events because that’s a currency you can’t put a price on.”


To watch the panel discussion and read the report ‘The World’s Best Business Events - And the People who Create Them’ from IBTM World 2023, sign up to On Demand.


Key takeaways from The World’s Best Business Events - And the People who Create Them

  • 73% of survey respondents agree that business events have increased in the past three years, underscoring the industry’s resilience and adaptability.
  • 57% reveal tight budgets are one of the biggest challenges that they face currently in their role. Nonetheless, half still feel that events are funded appropriately (50%).
  • A staggering 79% of professionals believe their jobs have become more stressful, and 61% state that their roles have evolved in response to the pandemic.
  • 90% report no change in their reward packages, highlighting that MICE professionals are taking on more responsibilities without added compensation.
  • Despite the challenges, an impressive 64% of respondents would recommend their industry to a friend.
  • 65% of respondents think businesses are recognizing the vital importance of events and 88% underscore the significance of events in the context of remote work culture. 
  • Notably, despite the challenges, event professionals demonstrate remarkable resilience, as they continue to shape and deliver impactful events, rising above obstacles.


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