2022 Trends and Predictions for Business Travel, Meetings and Events

As we come to the end of 2021, we look back at how the industry has performed as we continue to work through the pandemic. 

There was still much uncertainty at the year's start, with further lockdowns and restrictions remaining in place until the second half of 2021. However, we've seen a progressive increase in transient accommodation since the summer, and continued uplift during autumn.

We've also seen a substantial increase in face-to-face meetings, with many clients keen to get back to face-to-face customer and employee engagement. Yet, some caution remains with large events, and gathering significant numbers of employees together is still being delayed.

Hybrid meetings and events have continued as a key solution for many companies. However, if the trend of increased face-to-face meetings continued into the New Year, I would forecast larger conferences' return by quarter two of 2022.

The pandemic has had an enormous impact on meetings and events in more ways than one. The most important aspect of an event is currently people and food; content may have lost its crown for the time being. People are more focused and keener than ever on connecting and networking with colleagues, suppliers, and fellow peers. The new hybrid office working environment has left a need and desire for belonging, collaborating, and learning. Events address these three key areas: they're the missing piece in the new hybrid working.

People's minds seem mainly focused on the here and now, and the pace of change has been hard for many businesses and employees to get to grips with. Because so much has changed in the world and how we all work, employees – potential event delegates – are all still learning about it and adjusting. That gives employers a prime opportunity to incorporate events into their current communications planning.

Travel has been the slowest part of our industry to recover. While rail travel is increasing quicker than air, it is still slow-paced. Consumer confidence in travelling in enclosed spaces is taking longer to rebuild. Perhaps in spring or summer next year, we may see a more significant increase in travel, which will hopefully continue into autumn 2022.

Wishes for 2022

The industry is experiencing external and indirect rebuilding challenges with the difficulties in recruitment, Brexit with the loss of overseas workers, and the sustainability demands. The cost impact from all these areas, recruitment, Brexit, and sustainability, impede our industry rebuild.

I would like to see more support and recognition from the government; we have successfully elevated its awareness of our industry and now need the relevant help for all, directly and indirectly, affected businesses. This support must extend to our supply chain. 

What's more, we need to see innovation and new generations of talent helping our industry leaders to build back in line with their future in mind; sustainable services that meet corporate and individual desire for change. All this so we can rebuild our hospitality industry to a rightfully trusted, sustainable, and world-leading position.

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