A 2024 meetings outlook from Marriott International’s Julius Robinson

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Julius Robinson

Editor’s Note: Julius Robinson, Marriott International’s chief sales and marketing officer for the United States and Canada, provides the top meetings and events trends and priorities that will shape the hospitality industry in 2024, as seen at several Marriott properties across the United States and Canada.

Non-Traditional Venues

hotel suite with ocean view
Muir, Autograph Collection

Our teams have received increasing requests for nontraditional venues, outdoor setups and reimagined creative spaces. At Muir, Autograph Collection, an oceanfront property in Halifax, Canada, planners who are seeking a unique and memorable setting for their event can book meeting spaces with 360-degree water views, or even rent the hotel’s 36-foot private yacht.

W Philadelphia, which offers more than 45,000 sq. ft. of modern meeting spaces with state-of-the-art audiovisual technology, has hosted several reimagined corporate and social events utilizing the property’s larger suites and creative spaces such as the Wet Deck bar and terrace overlooking downtown Philadelphia.

Large Meetings Make A Comeback

Small and medium-size companies have been leading recovery in group demand since the pandemic, but this year, it’s apparent that large meetings are back. Demand for large events has been so strong that we’re currently working with customers to secure availability into future years during peak times in key markets. After being apart for a few years, customers are showing significant energy surrounding meetings, and that’s evident in our group bookings.

Return to Networking

meeting space with large windows
Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center

With the return of large meetings comes the return of what people missed most about in-person gatherings: being together and networking with others. In addition to 94 event rooms, 101 breakout rooms, and nearly 550,000 sq. ft. of event space, Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center’s Harbour Social was purpose-built for networking, complete with a sports bar, shuffleboard, air hockey tables, duckpin bowling and a bocce court.

At JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort,  the hotel’s 10K Alley offers a stylized taproom, where attendees can try over 40 Florida-brewed craft beers, barrel-aged bourbons, and signature cocktails. And, to keep up the competitive spirit, attendees can enjoy the state-of-the-art gaming arcade, boasting bowling, mini-golf, along with a variety of arcade favorites, ensuring your networking sessions are both productive and exhilarating.

Inclusive Experiences for Meeting Attendees

Far more than a trend, inclusion continues to be a central pillar for meetings and events planners, from thoughtful inclusive menu planning to neuroinclusive meeting practices, including dedicated quiet rooms, sensory/fidget toys and closed captioning for event presentations. As identified in our industry research with PCMA released in our Guiding Principles for Experience Design, designing for belonging—considering different abilities and varying needs related to mental health—is essential for a successful meeting and will be a key driver for experience innovation in the industry for years to come.

Read MoreNeuroinclusion: Events for Everyone

Aligning Content to Gen Z Attendees

Planners and strategists are seeing an increasing number of Gen Z meeting attendees and are incorporating elements tailored toward their engagement, from shorter sessions to gamified interactive activities.

Read MoreGen Z Meeting Professionals Navigate Industry Challenges and Hope for Future

Bleisure Travel Isn’t Going Anywhere

hotel pool
Sheraton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Resort

 As evidenced by “shoulder night” bookings on Sundays and Thursdays, guests are adding days pre- and post-conference—a sign that blended travel is here to stay. Many businesses are now selecting their hotel/meeting space based on family-friendly amenities such as a pool, childcare or kids camp programs, and perks to nearby attractions.

Sheraton Orlando Lake Buena Vista, which features more than 31,000 sq. ft. of event space, has offered groups perks such as complimentary Walt Disney World Resort tickets to groups with room blocks of 50 or more.

Local Influences

hotel courtyard
Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

We’ve seen a perspective shift in the way hotels view their meetings and events offerings, prioritizing unique spaces and cultural traditions to provide a memorable experience for attendees. At Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, attendees can connect with water—and with each other—through the resort’s ʻauʻaukai ceremony.

Stemming from the belief of early Hawaiians who used it for renewal and connection, the ceremony incorporates practices of purification via ocean water, helping attendees emerge with a clearer focus on mutual goals. The newly transformed The Westin Washington, DC Downtown features a new collection of meeting spaces with floor-to-ceiling windows and direct access to the Anthem Row promenade, which can also be activated to give attendees a uniquely D.C. experience.