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2024 Event Trends Seen at the Property Level

Meetings that feature a wider purpose along with opportunities for teambuilding, wellness, creative endeavors, F&B preparation—and pickleball—are what’s being seen by one major conference-resort operator.

Given the strong demand in the meetings market right now, the period of playing catch-up for meetings postponed between 2020 and 2022 does not seem to be winding down just yet. Further, there appears to be a notable difference in the perspective many organizations have for the purpose of their meetings in the revitalized business environment, which is manifesting itself in various ways on site and causing properties to revise their group offerings.

Benchmark Resorts & Hotels, an operator of more than 50 meetings-focused hotels and resorts across North America, is seeing a number of trends among business events across its portfolio that underscore the changed perspective of meeting hosts.

• Meetings are often aiming for a wider purpose beyond the stated business goals. “Programming that creates something of benefit beyond the group is in high demand,” the company notes in a press release, citing both social-responsibility and sustainability objectives. For instance, an off-site excursion that educates attendees on local natural history and the area’s environmental issues can be followed by a group activity that improves the local environment, such as native-plant restoration. Even better: working alongside local schoolchildren during such a project to allow them to be exposed to the host’s business as they learn about their hometown’s environmental issues.

• A meeting’s wider purpose should also focus on attendees’ needs. “The integration of well-being programming reflects a heightened awareness of the importance of holistic health on corporate culture and business growth,” Benchmark notes. Stress-reducing break activations and mindfulness activities range from guided meditation sessions and yoga classes to nutrition workshops and nature walks.

There is also a strong emphasis on do-it-yourself enjoyment and creativity, which is coming to business events in the form of classes that teach painting, ceramics, knitting, and plant design. In addition, hands-on cooking and mixology sessions provide attendees with skills that are useful in both their professional and personal lives.

• The prevalence of remote work and scattered staffs has made teambuilding an increasingly important meeting objective, with a turn towards more active pursuits. For example, some Benchmark properties are seeing increased demand for wayfinding competitions between teams using geo-tracking location apps across the indoor and outdoor spaces of a property, or even off property.

• Other properties are taking advantage of interest in what is, right now, the fastest growing sport in America: pickleball. The racquet sport that uses a Wiffle-style ball is a fun way to get sports-minded attendees involved in a low-impact, easy-to-learn game. Some properties are even setting up pickleball courts on event terraces and in ballrooms for groups to use during social events.

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