IACC Report Predicts the Future of Meetings

This Just In

The survey highlights how event venues are responding to the changing needs of planners.

Last week IACC released results from Meeting Room of the Future 2018, its annual survey on venue operator and supplier perceptions of the future of global meetings industry. The results offer wide-ranging insights on key aspects of meeting success, with technology continuing to lead the drive for change — a full copy is available for download here.

According to its website, IACC seeks to bring together the brightest, most innovative minds from around the globe and is dedicated to representing the highest-quality meeting venues internationally.

The Meeting Room of the Future 2018 survey includes insights from more than 50 venue operators across four continents, along with industry experts and suppliers, that include global meeting space designers, architects, technology companies, furniture manufacturers and nutrition experts. The survey’s goal is to understand how the industry is responding to the changing expectations and needs of meeting planners.

“As the industry evolves and expands, just as meeting planners must continually evaluate all elements of the meeting experience, operators and suppliers must also ensure they are meeting and anticipating the changing needs of planners,” said IACC CEO Mark Cooper. “The survey was designed to highlight these growing needs; we looked specifically at experience creation, meeting room space and design, technology and internet capabilities as well as culinary trends.”

Internet access that’s fast, reliable and readily available is a must for modern venues and worthy of investment. In response to the question ‘Which meeting venue elements will be more important in the next three to five years?’, high-quality internet infrastructure was cited by 71% of venue operators as the top priority. Cooper said in the report, “Some of those surveyed reported to have created ‘internet disaster recovery plans’ in the event of internet outages mid-event, a sure sign that venues and planners understand the important role that internet plays in meeting collaboration and connectivity.”

What is considered meeting space and how it is configured is a high priority too, with 60% of venue operators considering that flexibility of space would become more important in coming years. But, of course, the change has begun. The number of venues with flexible meeting room furniture and equipment in 100% of rooms has increased from 28% to 37% in just one year and 69% of venues report that now 75% or more of their meeting rooms have furniture/equipment which allows for multiple flexible layouts. Examples of the types of equipment now part of meeting rooms includes interactive white boards, digitables, gaming equipment, video-conferencing equipment, and holography displays.

Lounge areas and seating was also cited, with venues increasingly creating homely settings, using sofas, easy chairs, and other furniture. A key finding of the survey showed that 40% of meeting planners now feel that networking spaces outside of the meeting room are important, and 29% of venue operators agree. It also found that 53% felt that having multiple options for food and beverage service styles and spaces was a priority. It’s indicative of the high degree of importance meeting planners placed on how refreshment breaks and meals impact delegates, facilitate networking and the building of relationships.

Discussing the role that breaks play in meetings, Cooper said: “More operators are offering continuous refreshment breaks this year than previous years, however the report’s findings suggest that, while meeting planners agree that the format of breaks and meal times needs to evolve in the future, planners were divided on whether the trend should move towards short, more frequent breaks or longer breaks and meal times to allow in-depth networking.”

Coupled with the growing need for high-quality internet, operators and suppliers also feel strongly that access to technologies that foster collaboration and interaction is expected to continue to grow in importance by 53% of venue operators. Additionally, 100% of responding suppliers have experienced greater demand for portable LCD flat panel technology and data projectors and are seeing a decrease or stagnant demand for built-in versions of the same technology.

According to Mike Piddock, founder of audience engagement solutions provider, Glisser, the qualifier “interactive” technology relates to products and services which are intrinsically either portable or cloud-based. “This is a clear reflection of the direction clients are heading,” Piddock said, “with the mobile technological experience being an intrinsic part of meeting design and making a high-quality tech set-up a key part of venue selection.”

Read between the lines and the findings of this report demonstrate that meeting spaces and venue operators must continue to adapt and change if they are to remain relevant to the delegates and planners of the future.

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