What Do Meeting Planners Want? Survey Says…

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The meeting planners have spoken. And what they want from a venue is more flexibility, more access to the latest technology, and more unique experiences to keep their groups engaged.

The International Association of Conference Centres (IACC), in collaboration with Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and others, asked a global selection of 150 meeting planners to detail the challenges of their jobs and what they expect in the future. “We want to be able to predict and shape how people will design their meeting rooms in the future,” explained Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC.

Phase One of the 2016 study, called Meeting Room of the Future, asked meeting planners:

  1. Have the objectives of meetings changed in the past few years? Survey respondents agreed that the underlying goals of meetings haven’t changed—and they’re not likely to. But, they said, meetings need to adapt in a variety of ways to promote communication, idea generation, and a positive experience for delegates. A number of respondents reported that the traditional lecture model is gone, even in education-focused conferences. Attendees want to be immersed in the experience, not lectured to.
  1. Will “experience creation” be more important for meetings in the future? A good 75 percent of the planners said their current role involves more experience creation than two to five years ago. They expect the battle for delegates’ attention and engagement to grow exponentially in coming years as the Internet generates more options in content, entertainment, and social platforms.
  1. What are the ideal aspects of meeting space and how have they changed? The respondents’ most critical aspects remain the same: high-quality broadband, strong acoustics, and good, adaptable lighting. But 47 percent reported an increased need for flexibility in the rooms. In fact, beyond the basics, flexibility came out as the top most important aspect when considering meeting space today, followed by the need for adjacent networking areas and up-to-date technology.
  1. What will be the most critical needs for meetings in the next three to five years? More than 77 percent of respondents said interactive technology is way more important now than in the past few years. Broadband and technology in general have rocketed from being nice perks to being crucial—ranking even more important and expected than food and drink. As for the future, the planners predicted that interactive technology will be almost twice as important as anything else over the next five years—including venue flexibility.

The project’s second survey will go out to industry furnishings and technology suppliers, with results due in late May, followed by a third survey to venue operators shortly thereafter. The report’s overall state-of-the-future results will be unveiled in September at the IACC­­–Europe Annual Conference in the Netherlands. So stay tuned!

Photo credits: Shutterstock.com

Annette Burden

Annette Burden

Annette Burden has written and edited for Elite Meetings International since 2007. In addition to writing on travel for other publications, she founded and edited Meeting Traveler, Resorts & Great Hotels, and Destination Weddings & Honeymoons magazines.

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