The demand for meetings is growing rapidly year over year. Itâ€™s a well-known fact that face-to-face meetings are effective for many purposes – incentive groups, executive board meetings, regional sales workshops, and non-profit discussion panels, to name just a few. But the landscape is constantly evolving and there are always new approaches to achieve the desired outcomes. To help those responsible for meetings stay in tune with attendee expectations, Melanie Bianco of Covington Meetings & Events (CM&E) covers some of the top meeting trends for 2019 and tips on implementing them.
Safety and Security
Organizations have a legal Duty of Care for employees traveling on their behalf, so event security remains a top priority. The scope of safety plans and protocols now goes beyond standard food safety and ADA compliance to include considerations for natural disasters, terrorism, and other events. For example, major hurricanes in the last couple of years have broadened security concerns. Planners may avoid coastal areas during hurricane season or have a planned evacuation route.
CM&E Tip: Organizers and venues need to work together to take event security seriously be proactive when it comes to emergency preparedness, contingency planning, knowing what to do in various scenarios, whether itâ€™s what to do if someone falls or an active shooter situation. These actions help meet Duty of Care obligations for the employer and help attendees feel safe.
The clear trend is that Millennials are not satisfied with old school meeting venues and prefer independent, quirky, and unorthodox spaces. Itâ€™s more challenging to find unique venues for large groups than small ones, but when successful, it creates a more enticing experience. Hotels that understand this bring curated experiences to the venue and offer smart concessions, such as a spa discount to attract meetings programs.
CM&E Tip: Attendees want local immersion, cultural interaction, and experiential travel. Incorporating a rooftop or outdoor setting, arranging a local dining event, or offering a â€śbleisureâ€ť option of extending for a mini vacation can be compelling ways to respond to those needs.
Sustainability is a social and environmental issue at the forefront of consumer consciousness. 86 percent of purchasers expect companies to act on sustainability in their products and services. Since travel makes up 73 percent of the carbon footprint of events, planners might consider local meeting options or recommend ride-sharing transportation. Other sustainable initiatives include offering recycling, going paperless, using LEED-certified hotels, and asking how food services minimize food waste.
CM&E Tip: Seriously consider replacing single-use products such as plastic straws and paper cups with reusable options. The green options could be giveaways for your meeting and provide a powerful brand marketing for your business at the same time. You might even get sponsors to cover the cost! Attendees expect responsible actions so you can put your company at the forefront by taking these initiatives.
Wellness has become a determining factor in selecting a meeting venue because both the mental and physical wellbeing of attendees impacts many event details. Organizers now pay specific attention to attendee wellbeing by purposefully planning how breakout rooms are set up, the flow of the agenda, food and beverage service, and more.
CM&E Tip: Happier attendees are more engaged attendees. That participation translates into a more effective meeting, thus driving up the ROI for the event. Build healthy initiatives into the meeting, such as group yoga classes or 5K fun runs. Healthy food affects the energy level of the group and providing a place to unplug, or tech-free zones promotes digital detox.
Food & Beverage
The rise in wellness focus is accompanied by a significant increase in people choosing plant-based diets. People want to maintain good habits while traveling, so meeting planners need to accommodate any dietary restrictions and desires. The trend is to incorporate healthy, locally sourced options so that innovative chefs who get creative with vegetarian and vegan dishes can really shine.
CM&E Tip: As menu variety increases, food and beverage minimum orders will likely increase. Meeting budgets need to accommodate this because Millennials, who make up most of the current attendee base, expect their veggies!
Covington Meetings & Events can help your organization with site selection, meeting registration, or full event execution. For a proposal, contact CM&E.