6 Notable Trends for Meetings This Year

 

If future-predicting, crystal balls existed just for meeting planning, most of us planner types would be sure to have one. How great would it be to have all the answers before we even started planning? But alas, such crystal balls don’t exist, so most of the time we have to rely on all the attendee feedback and post-event data we can capture, plus our guts and on occasion, cancellation insurance. There is, however, one more item we can to add to our collective planning toolbox: meeting trend forecasts from those on the ground.

So, what are they predicting for 2017? Planners asked global DMC Pacific World to shed some light on emerging trends, and they’ve come up with their Top 10, drawn from their just-released Destination Index, which looks at the types of meetings and destinations groups are seeking, plus details on what attendees are considering most meaningful.

For planners, the Index offers insights into not only what to expect in the coming months, but a bit of inspiration on how to adapt, upgrade and reinvigorate your plans – and make them more memorable than ever. Here’s what Pacific World had to say, plus this planner’s ideas on putting the 2017 forecast to work:

1. Go Off the Beaten Track
Second tier and up-and-coming destinations are becoming more popular event destinations, such as small villages in Tuscany, or Lyon and Champagne as opposed to Paris.

The Opportunity for Planners: Regular attendees may have a bit of ‘been there, done that’ ennui when it comes to the usual convention cities, so stepping out just beyond standard-issue locations offers both planner and guest a fresh perspective, plus a range of new off-site experience options. Added bonuses: potentially better room rates; easier buy-out options; and more support from eager-for-business tourism and meetings bureaus.

2. Give Back to the Destination, Engage Local Communities
The meetings industry has seen an increase in Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives focusing on local communities, such as “Making a Balinese Barong,” where attendees work with villages in Indonesia to create a local craft.

The Opportunity for Planners: We all talk about engagement, but one of the most meaningful ways to actually do it is by making time in the schedule for in-person, hands-on, out-of-the-hotel experiences. Interacting with local communities creates fundamental human connections, powerful impressions, and in some cases, continued engagement post-event that can make these experiences truly a win-win for all. In other words – get out there!

3. Events with a Purpose, Incentives with a Meaning
More and more groups are requesting a return-on-engagement in addition to investment, creating an impact and everlasting memory – so a strategic approach is essential.

The Opportunity for Planners: Every planner wants their attendees to walk away having had a one-of-a-kind experience or at least some memorable moments and takeaways, but when your annual meeting gets stuck in a rut, those moments can be elusive.  However, when return-on-engagement is factored into the plan, planners can introduce new themes, unexpected activities and a sense of fun into the mix. The result? The opportunity to really flex those creative planner muscles, add a that ‘wow factor,’ and send attendees home inspired, with a renewed sense of purpose.

4. Sharing Memories with the World
Creating engaging experiences is as important as providing high-speed Wi-Fi access and designated creative hashtags for social media engagement.

The Opportunity for Planners: Getting the word out and sharing meeting experiences ‘live’ has never been easier, but not if the hotel Wi-Fi comes up short – so be sure to order extra bandwidth to handle the load from all those phones, tablets and laptops. For additional selfie-generated buzz, add a photo booth within the venue and a few social media prop frames  to encourage attendee interaction and ‘photo opps’ to share on social media and beyond. Take the buzz a step further by incentivizing or ‘gamifying’ social media sharing. A little friendly competition is a great way to keep the conversation going hours or even days after the event concludes.

5. Keeping It Small and Unique; Profiling and Tailoring
Creating an event based on specific interests and group profiles is increasing in popularity. Personalization is key to guarantee group engagement. For instance, an ultra-high-end experience featuring unique and creative types of transportation works particularly well for small VIP groups, while design inspired workshops with world famous athletes or musicians match well for young audiences.

The Opportunity for Planners: Again, it’s all about unique experiences and making memories, which sets the bar higher for planners, but also enables us to get creative instead of defaulting to the same-as-last-year schedule. Granted, traditional meeting structures, plenaries and breakouts all have their place, but enhancing them with a bit of entertainment value (where appropriate, of course), can elevate even the more mundane-but-necessary moments – and help keep attendees on their toes. For example: instead of using the same, old mic and stand set up, add a soft, foam, throwable CatchBox microphone to your next Q & A session to add interactivity and a creativity-freeing sense of fun to the experience.

6. Culture, Catering, Apps, Tech and More

To check out trends #6 -10 on everything from capturing the culture to introducing organic, healthy, farm-to-table catering, planning casual seating, mobilizing a mobile app to maximize communication and engagement, and incorporating new technologies, read the full report at Pacific World Destination Index.

Photo credits: Shutterstock.com

Kate Doyle Hooper

Kate Doyle Hooper

Since establishing her own company over a decade ago, Kate has produced just about every kind of event imaginable, from executive meetings and conferences to live music performances, mobile tours, fashion shows, celebrity gifting suites, and retail events for companies such as American Media, Bloomingdale’s, Conde Nast, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s BAZAAR, Hearst, Macy’s, Perry Ellis, Time Inc., Wilhelmina Models and Rodale, to name a few. Kate's editorial and advertising work has been published in Budget Living, ELLE, Fit, Civilization, Conde Nast Traveler, Esquire, Essence, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Men's Fitness, Men's Health and Shape, as well as on blog.cvent.com and weekendwalk.com.

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