By Lauren Arena
Experience creation is the top priority for event planners in Asia Pacific (APAC), according to IACC’s inaugural “Meeting Room of the Future — Australia & Asia Pacific” report, which gathered insights from 65 business event professionals across the region. Released in December, the report found that 66 percent of the region’s event strategists say that delegates now seek more engagement and personalisation at business events than at any time in the past five years.
The trends, according to the report, are driven by younger delegates looking for interactive experiences powered by new technologies, more networking opportunities, and more collaborative and creative sessions.
The report also highlighted that experience creation is closely tied to the use of technology. Meeting planners are increasingly called on to integrate multiple venue elements — technology, flexible space, networking spaces, and F&B offerings — to develop a more holistic approach to creating these highly sought-after memorable experiences.
“Meetings today are moving away from traditional table and chair set-ups. They are now more informal to spur creativity and provide inspiration spaces for attendees,” said Merck Millipore Corporate Marketing and Communications Manager Debbie Stanley, who took part in the survey. “Meetings are now required to be experiential. Clear screens, fast Wi-Fi, and good acoustics are all basics as expectations for meetings change.”
To support an increase in the use of interactive technology, internet infrastructure was flagged as another critical component to future meetings. Survey respondents agreed that the availability of high-quality broadband is the most important physical aspect of a venue, and demand for it is increasing.
As such, the report highlights the need for meeting planners and venues to work together to provide immersive event experiences. As has been seen among event strategists globally, 59 percent of APAC respondents reported a greater willingness to outsource off-site activity arrangements, while 56 percent will outsource local services. Given these findings, venues must be aware of the growing demand to offer the option for outsourcing off-site activities.
APAC event professionals, however, reported that financial return on investment (ROI) was not among the most increasingly important objectives, which goes against the grain of global trends. In all other regions, meeting planners have experienced increasing demand to provide accurate financial ROI measurements. In many instances, budgets and commissions have been cut, so meeting planners feel the pressure make their funding go far.
According to the report, event planners in APAC are more driven by ensuring personal development, followed by attendee satisfaction. This seems to indicate a focus on individual attendee outcomes as opposed to company-specific goals.
Commenting on the report, IACC CEO Mark Cooper, said: “Whilst having a global perspective is very useful, partnering with Biz Events Asia on an Australia and Asia Pacific market survey will help us understand regional differences in terms of delivery of meetings today and what planners feel will change in the coming years.
“Understanding these differences will better equip planners, venues, and all those who serve this market to grow their business.”
Lauren Arena, through her role with Biz Events Asia, was a research project team partner on the IACC report.