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IACC Survey of Planners Finds Space Design, Technology, Sustainability Are Key

The Spring 2023 research compiles the views of corporate, association, academic, and third-party event planners from around the world.

Released on the first day of Meeting Professionals International’s World Education Congress in Cancun, the “Meeting Room of the Future 2023” survey report from the International Association of Conference Centers finds the 275 responding planners to be focused more heavily on “experience creation” versus before the Covid pandemic. Fully 80 percent of respondents said this is a central priority for them now, due mostly to the two-year hiatus in face-to-face events followed by the widespread use of remote-work environments.

To achieve their goals around experience creation on property, planners cite the desire to use more indoor space than before as well as manicured outdoor spaces for both formal and informal learning and interaction. They also want access to a wider variety of furniture to produce different gathering configurations throughout the meeting space, plus sufficient on-site staff to create such configurations.

The report says that lounge settings at events, even on the periphery of large general-session rooms, promote what’s called “The Linger Effect”: Long after a formal session concludes, attendees remain in these comfortable environments to continue sharing information and having meaningful conversations. Another possible use for such seating: Breakouts that happen in the different sections of the general-session space and/or in parts of the prefunction space.

Another interesting conclusion from the responses of the 275 planners, who came from the U.S., Europe, Asia Pacific, and Africa, is their desire for host properties to offer interactive technologies—not just for the benefit of remote audiences, but also for on-site attendees to better share perspectives and insights with one another. For example, using the event app for audience-response opportunities not just in sessions but also throughout the day to capture and deliver group perspectives is a desired feature, as are social-media walls that combine and deliver attendee commentary and images from different social channels.

In addition, the allure of hybrid formats to bring in attendees who otherwise would not have traveled to an in-person event had responding planners saying that strong, dedicated wi-fi connectivity that’s affordable will be their biggest technological demand over the next three years. About 44 percent of meetings planned by respondents feature two-way communication capability for remote attendees, while 35 percent of their events feature one-way streaming with no remote participation and 21 percent had no streaming capability. But that 44 percent figure for two-way communication is sure to rise, says the report, and host properties must be ready to accommodate multiple groups in house at one time who will need such service.

Lastly, the task of sustainable event sourcing is growing in importance, but planners in the U.S. are notably lagging in this area versus their international colleagues. The proof: the percentage of planners who require a property to deliver a carbon-footprint calculation after the meeting is much lower stateside than overseas. See the chart below.

The complete version of IACC’s Meeting Room of the Future report can be found here.


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