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How are meetings going to change over the next 5 years?

January 4, 2018

We recently highlighted key elements from the first part of the 2017 IACC Meeting Room of the Future Report.

In this post, we will look at how meetings are expected to change over the next five years, based on responses from 180 meeting planners around the world.

Specifically, we’ll consider:

  1. Which meeting venue elements will still be relevant?
  2. How do you create memorable meeting experiences?
  3. Do big brand venues influence the success of meetings?
  4. What meetingvenue elements will still be relevant?

Meeting planners are aware that meeting environments influence the way delegates learn and communicate and that a good environment will foster productivity and motivation.

Of the meeting planners contributing data, 80% say access to interactive technology will be more important in the next five years.

53% include flexibility of meeting spaces, and 34% indicate that networking spaces continue to be among the most important venue elements. All these results continue the trend seen in the 2016 report.

Heidi Neisen, Hospitality Sales Manager for SICO Inc., designers of meeting and F&B venue furniture highlights “Design elements have a large impact on meeting spaces. We are experiencing a trend where operational advantages of some products are overlooked to accommodate the design and overall feel the product helps create. More work on the operations side for venue staff, but visually pleasing for the meeting attendees.”

  1. Create memorable meeting experiences

With higher expectations, delegates today are looking for high impact memorable experiences. The role of the meeting planner must keep up.

This year, a whopping 80% of meeting planners report their current role in planning meetings involves more experience creation, a 5% increase from 2016.

Planners pointed to the demands of incoming generations as the primary driver of this trend.

Most meeting planners agree that incoming generations are influencing meeting formats. They report that this new cohort of delegates are looking for:

  • Increased integration of new technology (especially mobile connectivity)
  • More opportunities for interaction, collaboration, and stimulation
  • Shorter, quicker sessions replacing long-form presentations
  • More emphasis on creativity

Meeting Professionals International says that “access has led youth to rely less on info they receive from teachers and parents. Consequently, they are less interested in lectures, and more interested in having their specific questions addressed. Indeed, helping delegates learn how to find answers will be much more valuable than what the answers are. Connecting them to the right subject matter experts, the right partners and the right peers will be far more valuable than delivering content that may or may not be valuable to them.”

Meeting planners and venues, more than ever, must work together to provide these experiences. Fortunately, this year meeting planners report more openness to sharing the roles and responsibilities of the meeting planning process than in years past. Over 50% of respondents indicated their willingness to outside off-site activity arrangements and the sourcing of local services (i.e. entertainment, printing, etc.). Dianne Devitt, DND Group highlights that the increasing complexities and experiences introduced to meetings can carry risk if not delivered properly and the advent of the Meeting Stylist/Architect can plan an important part for larger events.

Of course, meeting planners are interested in measuring return on investment and providing justification for the expense of experiential events to key decision makers. Once considered unquantifiable, many organisations are finding unique ways to identify quantitative means for calculating business value.

For example, as in 2016, many meeting planners still agree on the growing emphasis on delegate productivity and networking.

  1. Will a branded venue influence the meeting’s success?

Not necessarily. Meeting planners indicated that in general branded venues (Hilton, Marriot Hyatt, etc.) had positively influenced venue elements such as quality of food and beverages, meeting space design, staff, flexibility, and technology. But not so with creativity. On this point, meeting planners report major brands have little or no influence.

Perhaps this is why some planners lack confidence in brands or are unsure of the quality standard a major brand can provide.

This year’s findings show planners are approaching the venue selection process in a more holistic manner, considering all meeting venue elements as part of the memorable experience they aim to create.

Look out for our third blog post on the future of meetings soon.

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