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May 24, 2018

Event and meeting venues will continue to adapt to planner demands that events break from traditional, staid formats and instead become “experiences,” says the 2018 IACC “Meeting Room of the Future” report.

The IACC studied more than 50 venues across four continents, all offering dedicated meeting space.

FOCUS ON ‘EXPERIENCE’

The study notes that planners see “experience creation” becoming a more important part of their job over the next five years. As a result, venues must take on the role of “strategic consultant” to aid planner clients in developing memorable meetings.

“As event budgets remain relatively flat while prices continue to rise, meeting professionals will rely more heavily on their venue partners to help make choices that maintain the integrity of their brand experiences and education programs,” the report says. “Fortunately, 93 percent of operators indicated ‘yes’ or ‘sometimes” [that] their role does includeexperience creation. These operators are responding to the demands of meeting planners by offering a variety of on- and off-site amenities that foster ‘experience creation,’ with an increased emphasis from previous years on providing on-site team-building experiences.”

Among the options offered by venues to aid in the development of “experience creation” in their on-site operations are:

Creative meeting rooms 77%

Themed food and beverage 71%

Outdoor meeting rooms/spaces 69%

Ice-breakers 66%

Team building 58%

Team-based sporting activities/facilities 40%

Destination-based activities 24%

STAY FLEXIBLE

Sixty percent of operators feel that the flexibility of meeting spaces will become more important over time. Suppliers named flexible, “nontraditional” meeting room furniture as one of the biggest trends in meeting space development and design over the past three years.

Venue operators and suppliers tended to agree that breakout rooms are used more now than they were three years ago, the study says. Suppliers are citing an increased demand for smaller rooms for 90 attendees or less. In conjunction with these results, more venues are offering collaborative/networking spaces outside of meeting rooms than they did three years ago, the IACC says.

This year, the number of venue operators with flexible furniture and equipment in 100 percent of their meeting rooms increased significantly, from 28 percent to 37 percent.

When asked what types of furniture they are incorporating to help facilitate collaboration and flexibility, operators most often mentioned;

1. Lounge furniture (couches, armchairs, soft-seating)

2. A variety in tables and seating

3. Furniture with wheels

4. Foldable tables

5. Lightweight furniture for easy mobility

More venues are offering collaborative technologies to their clients, with some opting to offer these services “free to use” for clients. Video-conferencing hardware and screen sharing technology continues to be the leading collaborative technologies venues offer, the study says.

BREAK-TIME TRENDS 

Venues continue to develop their offering of continuous break stations, but at the same time are trying to remain flexible to accommodate planner and attendee requests.

Meeting planners agree that the format of break and meal times should change in the future. However, planners are divided on whether the trend should move towards shorter, more frequent breaks or longer breaks and meal times, says the IACC.

Slightly more operators are offering continuous refreshment break services this year than the previous year.

This year, more venue operators agreed on a focus on sustainability and sustainable practices in regard to their food and beverage offerings. Venues are aware of the high value placed on sustainability by upcoming generations.