As the attendee experience evolves, more meeting planners are breaking up with the traditional approach to room selection. Forget having every part of the venue mapped out on the program prior to the beginning of a conference; today’s meeting planners want rooms that can meet spur-of-the-moment needs.
“One of the more interesting trends is planner requests for pop up meeting rooms that can be assembled or moved at a moment’s notice,” the Benchmark Resorts & Hotels “Top Meeting Trends for 2016” report states. “Often used for spontaneous conference calls, small last-minute gatherings or just to briefly hang out in between sessions, RFPs are increasingly requesting meeting room pop ups as part of the meeting experience.”
While some organizations may be accustomed to charting out every minute of the schedule, many of today’s attendees want to operate within their personal time zones. Rather than going to Room 215 at 10:30 AM and Ballroom B at 1:45 PM, they want to adjust their plans whenever they feel the buzz of their mobile devices. With that in mind, hoteliers and convention centers alike need to offer spaces designed for this let’s-have-a-meeting-now mindset. When I was on-site for Convening Leaders earlier this year at the Vancouver Convention Centre, I saw the trend come to life in the Workspring Active Learning and Work Space. The entire area was dedicated to delivering a place where attendees could arrange impromptu business meetings and catch up on work during the conference.
“I think we have to let go of trying to control our delegates,” Claire Smith, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Vancouver Convention Centre, told me in an interview at the end of 2015 as she and her team were preparing for an annual partnership with Workspring. “Meetings tend to be overly structured. We expect our attendees to eat certain meals during certain times and sit in sessions at other times. The reality is that people are so busy and technologically connected to the office and home that this sense of control no longer works. We have to allow them to interact with the meeting in ways that will matter to them.”
How are you embracing the trend? Have you arranged any on-site opportunities at your host venue where attendees can skip out of the regularly scheduled program? Or do you worry about losing attendee attention? Go to Catalyst to share your perspective on how pop ups will impact the meeting experience.