Archive for the ‘Trends’ Category

September 08, 2014

Taking Meetings to a Healthier Level

mgm wellness1 Taking Meetings to a Healthier Level

Dr. Deepak Chopra speaks at the launch of Stay Well Meetings at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas

Life goes on as usual at the MGM Grand Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas—with its vast array of gambling, entertainment and dining options—but a progressive health-and-wellness program is continuing to become a more vital part of the scene.

In 2012, MGM Grand partnered with Delos, a company that focuses on nurturing and promoting health and well-being in indoor environments, to transform 42 hotel rooms on the 14th floor into Stay Well Rooms, which contain a multitude of health-and-wellness features.

The rooms have been popular among meeting groups and other guests, so early this year Delos and MGM converted the additional 129 rooms on the 14th floor into Stay Well Rooms. And on Aug. 18, the collaborators took another major step by unveiling Stay Well Meetings, consisting of dozens of healthy features including an advanced air purification system, circadian lighting, hypoallergenic cleaning products, ergonomic elements, a hydration station, aromatherapy and healthy menu options.

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September 04, 2014

¡Un cafe, por favor!

7092933977 d476200f55 o 300x300 ¡Un cafe, por favor!

Time for Cuban coffee. (Marilin Gonzalo/Flickr)

A casual afternoon stroll down any street in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood can elicit a number of cultural peculiarities straight from Cuba: Old men in guayabera shirts playing dominos, the rhythmic beats of son or samba emanating from a radio, and, of course, lines of people waiting to pick up a warm cafecito, or Cuban coffee, to help them finish the day. Embracing this touch of Little Havana, The EPIC hotel in downtown Miami is now offering cafecitos for guests to enjoy on a daily basis.

“In Miami, everyday around 3 p.m., things tend to stop and everybody goes for coffee for whatever reason,” says Eric Jellson, area director of sales and marketing at EPIC. “They [cafecitos] are an extraordinarily popular drink in Miami because of the city’s Cuban population and Latin base, and our coffee promotion allows us capture that culture. It allows us to do something for our guests, share the flavor of our local Latin community, and do it for free.”

The drink consists of a special, super concentrated type of coffee with sugar froth on top. The taste is brisk, and the caffeine is enough to arouse even the sleepiest consumer. That is why it is served in small cups, almost like an espresso shot. Cafecitos are typically paired with pastelitos (Cuban pastries) or Cuban toast (bread lathered in butter) in the morning, or brochetas (kabobs) in the afternoon or evening, making them a perfect drink any time of the day. (Just don’t drink one before bed if you plan on sleeping!)

IMG 0358 300x199 ¡Un cafe, por favor!

The Epic Hotel in Miami offers guests cafecitos – and dominos – every day at 3 p.m.

Every day at 3:05 on the 14th floor of the hotel, the meeting space comes alive with the sights and smells of Little Havana, as guests and attendees congregate to get a taste of the drink and socialize. Since it occurs in the hotel’s meeting space, planners can take advantage of the offer by simply scheduling a break at that time.

“The cafecitos have been such a huge hit” says Jellson.” We recently had an in-house trade show and afterward, I was flooded with emails asking where the coffee could be purchased and which brand it was. People need to come and try them!”

Just make sure to keep the cigar pairings outside.

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August 24, 2014

More Domestic Meetings Forecast for Industry

800px Kyoto International Conference Center   Annex Hall interior 300x225 More Domestic Meetings Forecast for Industry

Kyoto International Conference Center, Japan

More domestic meetings, shorter booking lead times, increased use of technology and continuing problems with compliance are among the worldwide trends being forecast for the meetings industry in a report released this month.

The report, the 2015 Global Travel Price Outlook, is a collaborative effort of Carlson Wagonlit Travel and the GBTA Foundation, the education and research component of the Global Business Travel Association. It focuses on what businesses can expect in 2015, and is designed to help their planning.

Part of the report focused specifically on the meetings industry. Besides the trends forecast above, the report predicted that:

* The cost per-day cost for an attendee will rise 8.5 percent in Latin America and 2.5 percent in both North America and the Asia-Pacific region, and decline by 5 percent in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

* Group size will increase by 3.5 percent in North America. 2.5 percent in Latin America and .75 percent in the Asia-Pacific region, and remain stable in the EMEA region.

* North America will see steadily improving economic conditions, resulting in more corporate confidence.

* The modest increases in per-attendee spending and group size in North America will be tempered by the strategic sourcing of the many North American-based organizations that implement a holistic approach to meetings management and drive significant savings accordingly.

* Companies in North America will focus on combining meetings and events with transient spending and on continuing to consolidate suppliers for greater negotiating leverage.

* Solid growth in the Asia-Pacific region should enable organizations to invest in meetings and events.

* Booking lead times will be particularly short in the EMEA region (two to three weeks out) and will likely fluctuate in a manner consistent with corporate earnings reports.

* Bookings for EMEA events will maintain a lead time of approximately nine months.

* Meetings management will continue to become more sophisticated in the Latin America region, with more interest in end-to-end management and some countries improving online registration tools.

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August 15, 2014

Integrating Gen Y into the Meetings Industry

Joe Martin Headshot 2 4 200x300 Integrating Gen Y into the Meetings Industry

Joe Martin

The MPI World Education Congress this month had dozens of captivating presentations, and one that stood out involved three young meeting professionals who participated in a panel about the generation gap in the meetings industry.

One of the panelists in the presentation, titled “Generation Next: Bridging the Generation Gap in the Workplace and at Meetings,” was Joe Martin, partner and conference director for BDI Events, a full-service events company based in Los Angeles. Martin has more than nine years professional experience in special-event planning and implementation for non-profits and the entertainment industry, and has served as a meeting planner for conferences ranging from 50–1,200 people.

Martin’s energy and enthusiasm buoyed much of the discussion, and his comments broadened the audience’s understanding of Gen Y meetings professionals such as himself. “When baby boomers arrive at their destination, they get on the phone and say, ‘Hi. I’m here.’ When we land, we send a text,” he said.

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May 16, 2014

Offsite Events: Beyond the Golf Course

winchester mystery house e1400218982966 Offsite Events: Beyond the Golf Course

Rumored to be haunted, the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, offers a spooky offsite option.


Our event director, Donna Labriola, is sharing one of her favorite trends every week. See some trends in action by attending one of our Smart Meeting events, and read more about trends here.

What do live music, rock climbing, speed karts, stadium tours, and museums all have in common? They are all great places to take a group and enjoy some offsite fun!

So often we get stuck in a rut and can’t think of anything else but the available event space on site, but there are great event spaces available all around the cities we visit. After all, what better way to refresh and rally a sales team than a friendly but competitive race around a speed track, or bond a management team than a tour through a local haunted house. Immersing your group in the local sites can take your attendee experience to the next level and really give them the chance to enjoy the city and the group in a new way. Seek out a new restaurant in the area for a food pairing or a meet and greet with the chef.

Bondurant Offsite Events: Beyond the Golf Course

Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving

Headed to Arizona? Group kart racing at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Chandler is a great way to let your inner speed demon come out.

Winchester Mystery House Photo Credit to Christy Sharp Offsite Events: Beyond the Golf Course

Photo by Christy Sharp

The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California, favorite with its history and spooky stories to go along with the tour. (The historic mansion also recently announced a plan to begin offering overnight lodging, so a haunted tour may soon be an onsite activity.)

hopwater Offsite Events: Beyond the Golf Course

Hopwater Distribution, San Franscisco

Find a restaurant like Hopwater Distribution in San Francisco, a gastro tavern featuring 31 beers on tap from around California and a selection of bar bites, such as the the popular Dungeness Tater Tots or Deviled Eggs with Bacon Jam.  The restaurant is available for private events and beer dinners hosted by Beer Chef Bruce Paton.

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May 02, 2014

Trend of the Week: Marquee Signs

Our event director, Donna Labriola, is sharing one of her favorite trends every week. See some trends in action by attending one of our Smart Meeting events, and read more about trends here.

The marquee sign is a flash from the past that is making a comeback in big way.  Whether you go for the soft yellow glow or a flashy blinking sign, it will make a statement at your event.  Use these signs to identify key areas around your event, such as the food, cocktails or even a company logo.  Marquee signs can be used to create anticipation at your event, highlight a performance or entice your guests to partake in a photo at the photo booth. Try a marquee sign at your next event to build excitement.

This “Food & Wine” sign was used to highlight a lounge area at a New York event:

food wine Trend of the Week: Marquee Signs

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March 25, 2014

Kimpton Joins Juicing Craze

fin fd 025 Kimpton Joins Juicing Craze

Kimpton’s juice menu features three flavorful varieties


Boosting its reputation for wellness offerings, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants has launched a new juicing menu at 10 hotels across the country.

The 16-ounce offerings are made from freshly picked fruits and vegetables and are aimed at boosting energy and improving health. Three varieties are available:

Beets Me consists of red beets, carrots, ginger and cilantro.
Being Green is a nutrient-rich mixture of cucumber, celery, spinach, kale and lemon.
Local Only is a cocktail made from nearby farm produce. The host chef at each property creates the concoction, which blends ingredients such as green apples, whole passion fruit, kale and celery.

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February 25, 2014

We Want More, Speakers!

speaker We Want More, Speakers!

Laura Schwartz speaking at the Smart Meeting Palm Springs earlier this month


Meetings and conference organizers now are expecting more from their speakers, including leveraging contact marketing and maximizing sponsors’ return on investment, according to the 2013 Speaker Report.

The survey, in which 175 organizations participated, provides comprehensive and up-to-date information about speakers in the meetings market. Tagoras and Velvet Chainsaw, two consulting firms, collaborated on the survey after their initial effort, The Speakers Report, which they devised in 2011 to better understand how organizations use professional and industry speakers at meetings, conferences and other events. In the surveys, they focused on how speakers are selected, what is expected of them and how their educational impact is measured, among other things.

The companies’ report, at, lists 10 top takeaways from the 2013 survey that emphasize new trends.

–Organizations use professional speakers more and more: In 2013, organizations surveyed reported using 14.6 speakers per year, compared with 11.2 in the 2011 survey.

Speaker bureaus are one option for do-it-yourselfers, not a sole source: 74.2 percent used a speaker bureau frequently or sometimes to find a speaker, but only 7.3 percent say they always use one.

Hiring decisions are shifting from C-suite to the education department: In 2013, the organization’s vice president or director of education or professional development decided which speakers to hire 22.7 percent of the time, a leap from 13.5 percent in 2011.

Organizers expect more from their professional speakers: 66.1 percent of respondents said they are looking for speakers to contribute more than just their time on stage, compared with 56.6 percent in 2011.

What in a name? Maybe not much: Just 28.3 percent of respondents believe that a big-name speaker is very or extremely important for attracting registrants.

Proposal review is too nice: 33.3 percent report that they accept 60 percent or more of submissions that come in through their call for proposals and 29 percent accept between 40 and 50 percent of them. Organizations that want to be industry leaders probably need better filters, the report concluded.

Compensation for industry speakers is soft: Since they have tight budgets, conference organizers often offer complimentary registration rather than paying for travel, lodging or honoraria.

Shifting evaluations to digital isn’t a layup: Moving to mobile and online evaluations appeals to meeting planners for several reasons, but low response rates and technological headaches dampen enthusiasm.

Content capture hasn’t taken off—yet: Use of streaming and content capture to amplify the best meeting content has remained stable since the 2011 survey. The 2013 report predicts that more organizations will embrace content capture with scheduled replays, but doesn’t anticipate much growth in live streaming.

Education still isn’t getting the respect it deserves: Similar to the 2011 findings, the 2013 report shows that the title of the most senior member of their organization’s education or professional development unit is a director (46.7 percent) or a manager (8.9 percent). The report concludes that a top-ranking person needs to be involved with an organization’s high-level education strategy.

—Dan Johnson

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January 10, 2014

Trend of the Week: Artsy Bagels

artsy bagel Trend of the Week: Artsy Bagels

Our event coordinator, Cassie McNair, is sharing one of her favorite trends every week. See some trends in action by attending one of our Smart Events, and read more about trends here.

It’s a new year, so out with the old, in with the new. What’s out? Same-old, same-old breakfast stations. Eggs? Sausage? Not in 2014.

What’s in? It’s all about the bagel craze—specifically, topping everybody’s favorite ring-shaped bread product with unexpected toppings. For your next event, provide your attendees the opportunity to eat art.  Go beyond cream cheese and top bagels with sun-dried tomatoes and basil, fresh fruit, breakfast cereal, avocado, chocolate and marshmallows. Have these bagels already dressed up and ready to be devoured for your next breakfast station.  The ideas and creative toppings can be endless, plus the touch of color is a fun addition!

—Cassie McNair

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December 20, 2013

Trend of the Week: Edible Flower Power

IMG 7532 Trend of the Week: Edible Flower Power

Ojai Valley Inn in Southern California used flowers to add excitement to appetizer plates during the
Smart Event Ojai in November.


Our event coordinator, Cassie McNair, is sharing one of her favorite trends every week. See some trends in action by attending one of our Smart Events, and look for our 2014 trends report in our upcoming January issue.

Roses are red. Violets are blue. Both are edible—it’s true! You may be surprised by the wide variety of flora that can be safely consumed, from the sweet taste of dandelions to the citrus overtones of hibiscus. Though most of us generally still think of flowers as something to be admired with the eyes as opposed to the taste buds, a trend has been blossoming in recent years among chefs. More and more, pedals are used to add colorful garnishes or exotic flavors to dishes.

Examples can be found across the country: In Savannah, Ga., Elizabeth on 37th grows its own flowers alongside the herbs and vegetables in its garden and adds them to soups and salads.

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