Event-Goers Prefer In-Person Over Virtual Gatherings: Hilton

Following a surge in virtual meetings driven by the pandemic, nearly three-quarters of event-goers now say they prefer in-person events to virtual ones, according to a recent Hilton survey.

Hilton’s online survey, conducted by KRC Research in August 2023, offers the following insights:

  • In-Person is Irreplaceable – More than 70 percent of event attendees prefer in-person events to virtual ones. Findings indicate in-person meetings have benefits that can’t be replicated virtually such as meeting new people (53 percent) and the ability to read non-verbal cues (50 percent).
  • Virtual Event Burnout – Half of all event goers (47 percent) are burnt out from virtual meetings—and this increases among younger generations, with Gen Z feeling this the most (59 percent).
  • Planning is Complicated – About a quarter of event planners (27 percent) are frustrated with the complicated and time-consuming event space booking process, with 39 percent frustrated with finding a space that meets their requirements and 40 percent with juggling all the event details at once.

The survey also found that technical difficulties with audio or video (35 percent) and poor internet connection (34 percent) are common issues experienced by over a third of U.S. adults while hosting or attending virtual events. Sixty-one percent of respondents admit to attempting to speak during a virtual meeting while on mute.

In addition to these findings, Hilton’s 2024 Trends Report, “What Millennials, Gen Z, Gen X and Baby Boomers Tell Us About Travel in the Year Ahead,” found that travelers, no matter their age or purpose of travel, are looking for innovative and seamless digital solutions to simplify their overall travel experience and personalize their stays, starting with the booking process. In fact, 80 percent of travelers say it’s important to be able to book their trip entirely online.

To support the growing demand for in-person gatherings, Hilton recently announced the expansion of its events booking capabilities. The company is enabling customers shopping for meeting packages for up to 35 attendees to book guestrooms and meetings or event spaces, with or without 10 to 25 guestrooms, directly on Events.Hilton.com without a separate contract or phone call. The new functionality will be rolled out via all Hilton websites globally by early 2024.

Hilton’s expanded online events booking functionality, which accommodates both professional and personal planners, aims to solve for these friction points by allowing the small meetings and events customer segment the ability to book their event space entirely online, bundled with guestrooms, audio-visual needs and F&B orders. From board meetings to fundraisers, family reunions to baby showers, this feature will allow planners to focus less on contracts and more on personalizing the packages and experiences that are tailored to their attendees’ unique needs.

Small meeting and event packages are available to book online at select properties spanning counties in the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia Pacific, with the feature slated to be available throughout the full portfolio of hotels with meeting space by early 2024.

For more information, visit Events.Hilton.com.

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