With the first edition of the expanded IBTM Americas show (formerly ibtm America) kicking off on September 5 at Centro Citibanamex in Mexico City, IACC used that opportunity to release a new version of its "Meeting Room of the Future" white paper, this one focused on event preferences of businesspeople from throughout the Latin American market. IACC has created a similar white paper for the North American and European meetings markets for the past two years.
Created in conjunction with IBTM Americas, "Meeting Room of the Future" for the LATAM market offers revealing details about the learning, collaboration, and networking preferences of people from Central and South America as well as Caribbean nations. First, the paper reveals that the top priority for event planners in this region is to deliver against the audience’s increasing expectation for tailored experiences along with a move towards more creative attendee engagement.
For instance, 92 percent of LATAM planners who responded to IACC’s survey report that their current role involves more "experience creation" for delegates versus five years ago, compared to 80 percent of respondents who said that just last year. One respondent summed up the general sentiment of many planners with this comment: “Five years ago, the objectives were very simple. But today I work to ensure that each event has something new to offer. Achieving customer expectations has been a challenge."
As focus on value increases in a climate where costs are rising appreciably, a majority of LATAM planners reported that they are more driven than they were five years ago to ensure specific levels of attendee satisfaction, and they predict that experience creation will continue to be at the heart of meetings development going forward. The reasons for the latter: Attendee desires for new and interesting ways to learn, shortened attention spans, and each host organization's need to deliver a memorable event to positively impact future sales.
Naturally, technology continues to play a key role in creating content-rich experiences. “Meetings today need to be dynamic. Attendees no longer come simply to listen. In addition to interactive activities and networking opportunities, they expect venues that are technologically advanced” for some parts of the attendee experience, stated another responding planner.
In fact, the report highlights a clear demand for meeting space that's more conducive to collaboration, and the great outdoors is a useful resource for delivering this. “Access to outdoor spaces to run elements of the meeting—breakouts, networking sessions, team activities, or meal functions—are more important within Latin American events," notes Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC. "Venues that develop their outdoor spaces with specific purpose will help planners create memorable events.”
Interestingly, while interaction and engagement are key to creating successful events, it’s clear that in the LATAM market not all meetings-focused technologies are perceived by planners as offering significant benefit. Specifically, audience polling and Q&A technologies are not considered as being effective or beneficial to overall communication by LATAM-focused planners (44 percent) versus global respondents (91 percent), with 11 percent of respondents who have used a conference app reporting that it actually hindered communication rather than improved it.
Nonetheless, David Hidalgo Ayala, show director for IBTM Americas, said: “Looking to the future, it’s clear that event planners must stay on the cutting edge of industry innovations if they are to create more flexible, interactive, personal, and collaborative events. Many changes are coming in terms of amenities, food and beverage, facilities, and technology, but it’s essential that we don’t lose sight of the fact that human relationships are at the center of everything, especially in our industry."
The LATAM white paper (click here for the entire report) will form part of IACC’s third annual global "Meeting Room of the Future" report, due to be released in late September and which has been bolstered with a new Australia & Asia Pacific edition. Together, the reports deliver insights from 500 global conference and meeting buyers to identify new trends and illustrate how previous trends have evolved over the past year.