Make 2018 the year of memorable meeting experiences. Attendees are demanding it. They want to move beyond lectures to more personal experiences, more networking, and more creativity.
But how do you do that? What does this mean for the meeting environment? Here’s my take on what’s happening—and what needs to happen—in your meeting environment in the year ahead.
Meeting rooms need to be flexible spaces. I see meeting planners looking for rooms and layouts that can be quickly and efficiently adjusted based on the needs of their event. Meeting room set-ups are becoming “think tank” environments, with comfortable seating options with built-in writing surfaces. Many venues will also upgrade their interactive technology and utilize the cloud to connect team members around the world who are not in attendance.
Make session content short and to the point. As planners become more sensitive to the effects of taking attendees away from their offices, they are offering more condensed, short sessions. Digital sharing also helps shift meetings from being content-focused to being more experiential.
Think about informal meeting spaces. Networking areas and communal work spaces outside of the meeting rooms provide the setting for collaborative thinking, growing, and interacting. Meeting planners will carve out more time for these activities because they improve the experience and provide a greater sense of value.
Design F&B with interaction in mind. The added focus on networking will also affect breaks and meals. I see meals becoming more flexible, orientated towards reception style, interactive stations rather than seated banquets. Breaks will be longer, with creative food presentations and opportunities for more networking and connecting.
Give attendees on-trend F&B options. The trend for breaks and meals continues to be healthy and energizing items. Expect to see many vegetable carb substitutes, enhanced vegetarian and vegan options, and upgraded coffee options—think cold brews and lattes. With many different food preferences and diets, meeting venues are upgrading their selections and providing a wider range of options for attendees.
Julie Finn is director of event management at Hilton Denver Inverness.