There’s never been a more exciting time to be part of the meetings and event industry. Engagement, networking and productivity are at the forefront of people’s minds. In an age when digital is coming first, face to face time is becoming really valuable where people want to make the most of the occasion, so more thought and effort is being put into the design of meetings and events.
Last year we looked at some of the changing trends we were seeing. Among them were an increase in bleisure as people combined business meetings and conferences with an extended stay, a growing demand for creative spaces and a rise in experiential learning. If you’ve spotted them featuring more in your business, then you might want to see what we think will be a focus for the year ahead.
The rise in social media and the way we digest content is spilling into other areas of life, as people have shorter attention spans and a desire for smaller amounts of information. The rise in visual content such as images, videos and in the moment voting at events is re-energising content and capturing engagement; speeches are shorter and snappier.
Reducing the active element of any meeting can impact interest and engagement, so our advice is, be aware and keep them spread throughout. If you do need to deliver long sections of information, maybe change the delivery to keep attention and become a facilitator of the floor. Being around your delegates will encourage interaction and mould the focus of the content.
Meeting and conference venues will need to accommodate this by offering the ability to share digital content, stream live video and incorporate more interactive sessions. This changing nature of meetings has been key to new investment in our events spaces which now offer wireless connections, touch screens and thinking boards.
Online and Offline
The expectation for advancements in technology within the conference industry is high. People now expect free wifi as standard, along with seamless integration between screens and laptops.
What is adding excitement and being used more are virtual reality, augmented reality and event apps, which are becoming more accessible as costs reduce. Whether it’s to check in, translate language or provide a different dimension to the occasion, they are helping deliver, inform and push productivity.
New technologies are all about the wow factor. Remember these tools are to focus the attention on the finer and important details and not take away. The new element is also a great way to beat expectation which in turn can grow your retention numbers and encourage rebookings.
Mindfulness & Mental Wellbeing
Brain food, mental well-being, healthy minds and body are all buzzwords we’re seeing more and more, and they are spreading into the meeting environment. People have become more focussed on well-being with a direct correlation with productivity. Last year we included the increased use of outdoor space in our list of growing trends, as getting fresh air and a different environment can help revitalise delegates.
We expect to see more focus on being ‘in the moment’ – our new parking space for mobile phones are already used well in meeting rooms to try and reduce the distraction of people always switched on to email.
To keep people feeling reinvigorated we’d recommend having simple and effective practices to allow delegates to take their wanted breaks.
Exercises such as mindful minutes can give delegates the opportunity to stop, reset and be in the present moment. The break with silence can help refocus the mind. But we’re also offering our meeting guests the opportunity to make use of our wellness resources, from group classes on our on-site spas to having someone available to provide shoulder massages within a meeting setting if requested.
The one-day meeting mindset and the attempt to fit everything into the one day is changing. With the continued popularity in the bleisure movement and its appeal, delegates are more aware of their work-life balance and its value. The idea of a festival style conference or meeting event is to create an experience with incentives to attend and break the solid hours of information overload.
We’re not talking tents, bands on stage and portaloos but it’s looking at an event as an experience that is adding value and creating something memorable that delegates will find not only worthwhile but also something away from the norm.
Curated sessions from innovative workshops, outside the room time and interaction exercises can fill your programme. When it comes to food stations, go for deconstructed food choices for attendees to create their options and manage their intake. All these elements will strengthen focus and create a more immersive learning experience, which is why our team building packages are becoming more popular.
Memorability is still a big hitter and having something that differs from the norm of the meeting landscape and can be where the loyalty stems from. Making your venue a place where people don’t want to miss their meeting is the goal.
It’s time to move away from the mundane and impersonal approach that meetings of the past often brought. Personality and building authentic connections to improve development and partnerships is what is working.
This goes hand in hand with the increased use of creative spaces for meetings – nobody wants to sit on a chair all day at a meeting so the use of unorthodox space is increasing. Meetings have become all about the attendee.
It’s easy to make your meeting feel more human by moving away from sterile and abrupt spacing and furniture to more tactile and expansive creative zones which allow movement and promote human connection. Spaces that are flexible and adaptable are going to suit more types of learners.
A great tip is to bring the experience closer to the way people behave outside of work. It’s more likely to cut down on the exhaustive stages and overall benefit the session or meeting.
Development in the conference and meeting world is making it an exciting time for business and delegates. Enquire today to discover how we can help you get ready too with the House of Daniel Thwaites.