Mark Cooper, CEO, IACC mcooper@iacconline.org

 

Meetings make a difference. We understand the importance of collaboration and knowledge sharing
and how the environments and tools that support these behaviors shape people, organizations, politics and ultimately, economies. So what will a meeting look and feel like in five or 10 years?

As the only global professional association which represents small- to medium-sized venues focused on meetings, training courses and conferences, IACC took up the challenge to find out.

Predict. Create. Shape.

IACC is leading Meeting Room of the Future (TM) initiative to share its vision for what meeting rooms will look like. The initiative brings together the brightest minds and companies in the industry; research, trends and innovations to predict, create and shape the future of meeting environments. Following the survey of global meeting planners, we’ve conducted and reported a first set of research (the full report is available here. The IACC initiative seeks  to transform the meeting experience through a global collaboration of leaders in conference room design, A/V technology, hospitality, academia and conference management. The project combines innovation and entrepreneurialism with the expertise of meeting industry professionals and planners. According to the report, the meetings industry is transitioning rapidly: meeting planners must continually evaluate all elements of the meeting experience to provide the most relevant environments to foster collaboration, idea exchange and relationship-building among attendees.

While the overall objectives and goals of meetings have generally remained constant, there are clear indications that technology, the physical design of meeting space and the emphasis on experience creation will be increasingly important. Compounding the pressure on meeting planners to adopt and incorporate these elements is
the increased requirement to demonstrate the value of meetings while operating with shrinking budgets. Meeting venues must respond and provide those elements that are important to achieving overall meeting objectives. Meetings: Today and Tomorrow. A venue impacts participant productivity, creativity and ability to respond to new ideas and thinking. Highlights of our meeting planners survey:

  • 75% say their current role involves more “experience creation” than two to five years ago.
  • Over 77% report that access to interactive technologies (i.e., tools to encourage audience participation and collaborative communication platforms) are more important now than during the last several years.
  • 47% report the importance of flexible meeting space today vs. yesterday.

Using these indicators as a roadmap for future trends, meeting planners predict an increased emphasis on, and need for, particular venue elements. Today, meeting space flexibility is the most important element when evaluating meeting space, followed by access to interactive technology and networking spaces adjacent to the meeting/event space. Access to interactive technology, however, is projected to surpass flexible space as the most important element.

Physical Meeting Spaces and Design

According to the report, the critical elements of meeting venues (such as high-quality broadband, strong acoustics and good lighting) have remained largely constant and are projected to remain important in the future.

However, meeting planners do cite a continued trend towards unique and flexible meeting spaces. When asked how strongly they agree with the statement, “Access to collaborative meeting space will become more important in the next two to five years” (on a scale of 1 -strongly disagree to 10 -strongly agree), respondents gave an average rating of “8,” indicating the need for more creative, less traditional options.

Communications & Connections

While meeting planners have many wish list items for the ideal meeting venue, technology remains near the top; an increasing percentage of budgets are devoted to using new technologies, such as event apps, beacon technology to track traffic and attendance and video conferencing capabilities. IACC’s ambitious long-term goal is to predict and showcase a clear vision of what is new for today and what solutions are needed for tomorrow to deliver what clients want and need for maximum productivity in a meeting venue.