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IACC Meetings Research: Unique to the Moment

With its latest report focused as much on post-pandemic meetings sentiment as meeting-venue innovation, decisionmaker expectations for 2022 off-site events are revealed.

IACC (formerly the International Association of Conference Centers) released its 2022 Meeting Room of the Future Report this week, painting a picture of how desirable in-person meetings will be for organizations over the next year and the conditions under which they’ll take place.

Done in conjunction with the Hotel Management School Maastricht, the IACC report used a survey of 100 meeting managers and executive decisionmakers plus a dozen in-depth interviews to understand how the decentralization of the workforce over the past two years will affect demand for off-site business events in the near future.

Among the main findings:

• A central reason for organizing off-site meetings at this time is for participants to “escape their own fixed environment. People are tired of working at the office [with fewer colleagues] or working from home all the time. It is also about being in an environment where they can completely focus on the meeting rather than being distracted” by other elements of their work.

• On the other hand, many respondents said that a virtual component can effectively complement not just internal meetings but also customer-training sessions and broader conferences. “It can therefore be concluded that in-person meetings will maintain a virtual aspect after the Covid pandemic,” says the report. “One example of how that will happen is the hub-and-spoke model, which is a meeting with in-person groupings of participants in multiple locations. Each location represents a meeting in its own right but is connected to the other meetings via technology, allowing for full collaboration.”

• Meeting venues must offer technology and audiovisual services that meet the needs of the new environment. “They’ve got to have connectivity and equipment that is first-class,” says one executive respondent. “We need big-screen functionality” that is as simple as possible to operate. The report also notes that the rise of LED video walls and interactive whiteboards at venues means that those tools must work seamlessly with videoconferencing platforms in order for hybrid meetings to be truly effective.

• In addition, “technology that did not exist even a few years ago is shaping the way events are held,” the report notes. “Organizers can add a whole other layer of networking before and during the meeting through social-media tools, and the meeting can be extended afterwards through online communities.” The lesson for venues: “With enough bandwidth, any access point on property can manage” the devices that require connectivity, enhancing the networking component of an event as it is happening. For venues, understanding early in the planning process a meeting client’s bandwidth needs is critical.

The full report can be found here.

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