As Grand Hyatt San Antonio is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year, I’ve been reflecting on the major trends that have transformed the meeting industry throughout the past decade.
Having helped to plan and oversee thousands of meetings during my career, it has been interesting to see how the meeting and convention industry has changed and continues to evolve to this day. From today’s high-tech capabilities and mindfulness practices to more experiential and cultural influences, we are working in a really exciting time where we have more access than ever to technology, unique activities, and authentic experiences that can provide an unforgettable event for attendees.
Technology has Driven Change
It is no surprise that one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed in meetings throughout the past decade is the use of technology. With the extreme advancement of tech capabilities, planners are finding more unique ways to incorporate tech into their meetings, from augmented reality maps of a venue to chatbots to assist with customer service or to customize the event experience per attendee.
Ten years ago, one of the biggest concerns was ensuring that a venue had the availability of a Wi-Fi connection. Now it is rare to find a hotel that doesn’t provide propertywide, high-speed Wi-Fi coverage.
Personally, I think the most useful technology breakthrough has been the introduction of meeting apps. With several apps available, attendees have the ability to register or check-in at an event, access the program or itinerary, sign-up for breakout sessions, or chat and connect with other attendees allowing for a seamless experience.
A Shift in Mindfulness
Another big trend that has changed the industry is an overall shift in the importance of mindfulness. In addition to more typical mindfulness activities such as yoga or meditation sessions, mindfulness is interwoven through many aspects of a meeting, from healthy and sustainable food options to corporate social responsibility activities.
Instead of a conference being jam-packed with an overload of information, planners are really honing into the main messages that they want their attendees to take away while finding ways for them to retain that information through mindfulness practices.
Demands for Meeting Space Have Changed
Now, more than ever, I’ve noticed that groups are spending more of their meeting time outside of the ballroom. For example, I’ve noticed a large uptick in the number of groups requesting social spaces for their event, such as a lobby, foyer space, or an outdoor patio.
Some of the most in-demand meeting spaces at Grand Hyatt San Antonio are the foyers located right outside of our ballrooms which feature floor-to-ceiling walls with views of the city. Our property recently completed a $19 million renovation which paid particular attention to updating not only our guestrooms and ballroom, but also the social spaces in order to stay in line with this continuing trend.
It’s All About the Memories
The most exciting change in the meeting industry over the past 10 years is that planners are making their events more engaging and fun. With this shift, I’ve noticed that more resources, decision-making, and focus is placed on receptions and closing night events to provide a truly remarkable experience that attendees will never forget. This trend allows planners and the venue’s event team to push aside the cookie-cutter ideas and showcase their creativity to provide a one-of-a-kind, distinctive meeting experience or finale.
Looking Towards the Future
I anticipate we will continue to see a lot of growth in experiential meetings, but with an increased focus in customization options for attendees. Experiential activities and immersive cultural activities have really turned into the driving force behind attendee interest and engagement, and I expect that to remain the case for the foreseeable future.
Kyle Stevens has more than 16-years of experience planning and booking meetings at Hyatt hotels throughout the country. He is currently the director of sales and marketing at the Grand Hyatt San Antonio.