By Mark Cooper, CEO, IACC*
(*IACC is one of Bostrom’s outsourcing clients)

IACC recently released a report on its 2018 “Meeting Room of the FutureTM” study, highlighting how global venue operators, industry experts, and suppliers are responding to the changing needs and expectations of meeting planners. The study used research, trends, and innovations from over 50 venues across four continents to investigate what meeting spaces will look and function like in the future. Several items were stood out in the research as key trends for meeting planning professionals, venue operators, and suppliers to keep an eye on:

  • experience creation
  • collaborative technology
  • meeting space design
  • (not surprisingly) a strong Wi-Fi connection

Experience creation is an increasingly important trend that has recently fallen on the shoulders of meeting planners rather than venue operators. Planners hope to instill memories and inspire attendees with a wide

range of experiences that reach as many of the five senses as possible. IACC suggests the following actionable methods of improving customer experience at meetings:

  • engaging with local suppliers
  • replacing traditional programming with trendy activities
  • offering a variety of on- and off-site amenities
  • utilizing creative meeting rooms and themed food and

Flexible, creative meeting spaces are also a growing demand among meeting attendees. Meeting rooms should have a balance of individual and group space that effectively flows between the three modes of learning:

  • collaborative
  • visual
  • auditory

Color, natural light, movement, and more casual breakout spaces are all encouraged to ensure that your meeting space is receptive to attendees’ changing needs. These functions support a creative, collaborative, and stimulating learning environment that keeps attendees engaged throughout the meeting.

As technology changes, the needs of attendees, meeting planners, venues and suppliers will inevitably change as well. Access to portable/cloud-based interactive services and collaborative, user-friendly, clutter-free technology are essential when planning a meeting in 2018 or beyond. Video conferencing, screen sharing, audience participation, and virtual reality are all growing trends for making meetings as technologically effective as possible. Without a strong Wi-Fi connection, most of these technologies are useless, so ensuring the on-site Internet infrastructure is capable of supporting hundreds or thousands of users is crucial. In fact, according to IACC, venue operators and suppliers feel that high quality Internet will be the most important meeting element in the coming years.

All of these trends involve some degree of collaboration. No matter the need—whether it be a creative meeting space, access to screen sharing software, or unique, local programming—collaboration is at the heart of producing engaging meetings of the future for attendees.

Meeting professionals: we challenge you to incorporate one or more of these trends in your organization’s 2019 or 2020 meetings.