Year-End Trend Review
After my traditional Thanksgiving, I did it all over again at a Friday “Friendsgiving.” As you know, our partners in the industry become our friends: hoteliers, DMCs, and vendors. And now, as I looked around my Friendsgiving table, I realized everyone there was an industry professional—someone who had crossed the bridge from colleague to friend. Inevitably, the conversation turned to industry talk and to a discussion of the biggest trends of 2014, and which ones we believe will carry over into 2015.
Here are highlights:
- The Need for Speed: We are all guilty of wanting to be connected 24/7. This is especially true during meetings. Wi-Fi is a priority for all planning professionals and conference attendees today. A venue that provides sufficient bandwidth and Wi-Fi that is free, fast, and reliable is one you don’t want to overlook.
- Location, Location, Location: With the economy’s upswing and hotel rates on the rise, venue rates are no longer the dealmaker or deal breaker. Instead, location has become a top consideration, as more and more planners are incorporating cultural aspects of a destination into meeting agendas. More than in recent history, planners are choosing a promising location first, then narrowing it down based on rates and availability.
- Entertainment is Key: Make your event unique, so attendees want to keep coming back year after year. Memorable entertainment not only helps you create buzz prior to your conference, but it can also help you retain attendance for future events…What? Beyonce is coming?!
- Flexible Spaces: Conference facilities are becoming more flexible, much to the appreciation of meeting planners everywhere. The best venues offer conveniences such as moveable partitions, furniture, and planters that make spaces more useful and attractive. Having an impromptu brainstorming session in a nook outside the session room, for example, is now easier with the thoughtful use of space within the venue.
- Distinctive F&B: I have said it before, and will say it again: We are a food nation. Culinary offerings are important when selecting a meeting venue. It takes more than variety to keep attendees happy. Healthy choices; fresh, locally sourced ingredients that connect attendees with a destination; and selections for those with dietary restrictions (such as gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan) are a must for meals and refreshment breaks.
- Health Consciousness: Attendees want to get moving. Some hotels and conference centers offer creative exercise breaks in lieu of refreshment breaks to rejuvenate meeting attendees between sessions. To get on board with this trend, consider offering a 15-minute yoga session, morning stretch class, and/or a zumba class within your day’s conference schedule. Doing so will keep attendees energized for the day’s remaining sessions and post-conference events.
- An App for That: The app trend isn’t going away, and meeting planners are tapping into the trend and setting up mobile apps for corporate events. Innovative new apps such as, Meeting Play, helps planners’ keep track of RSVPs and make checking into an event effortless. This app also allows attendees to keep track of the conference agenda and interact with other meeting-goers.
- Going Green: Another factor that’s gaining traction is environmental sustainability. Though it may not be the primary factor in venue selection, choosing a property that is sufficiently green can actually help reduce event costs. For example, a meeting space with state-of-the-art technological abilities can reduce or eliminate costs associated with printing materials. Hotel/conference centers that allow you to serve distilled water instead of bottled water can make your event greener and less costly. Event sponsors can even give away reusable water bottles for attendees. Green meetings not only help your company reduce its impact on the environment (and potentially lower the cost of your event), but can also encourage your attendees to do the same. This is a trend that I personally hope becomes the rule!
I hope you all have had a wonderful planning year! We would love to hear what trends you have used and will continue with in 2015…please share.