In 10 years, millennials will make up 70 percent of the workforce and, as they become the majority, their preferences will shape and shake up the meetings and events industry at large.
Here are a few trends to look out for, according to research published in IACC’s Spring 2017 “Meeting Room of the Future” report, which pulled insights from global meeting planners, IACC members, and industry experts.
“Looking forward,” according to the report, “venues should consider themselves curators of exceptional experiences.” Eighty percent of meeting planners surveyed reported that their role involves more “experience creation” compared to two to five years ago. Unsurprisingly, the trend toward experienced-based meetings also points toward an increase in new technology being used at conferences — including virtual and augmented reality. MPI’s Spring 2016 Meetings Outlook report found that 20 percent of meeting professionals said they will use or will likely use virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) technologies within the next year.
The report quoted Carol Porter, chief of staff, Viawest, about what that might look like: “[AR/VR] will tie into the experiential design, whatever that may be – being at a health-care conference and feeling what it’s like to be a patient in surgery, travel conference showing you VR of a destination, etc.”
The traditional format of lectures will decrease over time. Millennials aren’t content to have the same information broadcast to them as to everyone else.
“Access [to information] has led youth to rely less on info they receive from teachers and parents,” according to MPI’s Future of Meetings research quoted in the report.” Consequently, they are less interested in lectures, and more interested in having their specific questions addressed. Indeed, helping delegates learn how to find answers will be much more valuable than what the answers are.”
Flexibility of meeting space — meaning configurations that can be adjusted continuously — is also seen a growing trend.
IACC’s 2017 report shows that 53 percent of the meeting planners surveyed believe that increased flexibility of meeting spaces will be more important in the next five years, up 5 percent from last year’s report.
But flexibility is also growing in another sense of the word. In fact, it is what links the major trends together —non-linear learning, the new experiential features, and the adjustable formats. Being open to change is what will drive meetings of the future.