Make your summer meetings meaningful and memorable with these tips and trends

Summer is approaching fast and meeting professionals want to stay up to date on every seasonal trend. This summer is looking at experiential travel—whether that be a relaxing health and wellness retreat, a culturally rich destination or an environmentally conscious and responsible gathering, summer 2024 trends are geared towards progressive practices.

Smart Meetings has curated a list of the hottest trends and destinations meeting planners will want to consider when planning a meeting or conference this summer. With these tips and recommended venues, your summer meeting or event will be memorable, meaningful and even give back to the community.

Sustainable Luxury

Sustainability is a topic constantly at the center of meetings and events industry conversation and it’s evolving as more than a trend to become a revolution of eco-friendly awareness in business standards of practice. Being altruistically eco-conscious, rather than greenwashing (using the trendy distinction for marketing purposes), resorts that are truly dedicated to the cause resonate with meeting professionals and attendees alike.

The Stanford Inn & Resort on the coast of Northern California in Mendocino County partners with John Jeavons’ GROW BIOINTENSIVE to open The Field School. Focused on the next generation, The Field School offers training programs to promising youth about living sustainably and holds the hospitality industry to a high standard of environmental responsibility through creating training programs that provide instruction on land-use, farming, building codes, nutritional standards and above all—sustainability. With sustainability as a ubiquitous and immortal topic swirling in the meeting and events industry, meeting professionals are flocking to the most sustainable places available.

sustainability in mendocino
Gardening classes at Stanford Inn & Resort in Mendocino, CA

Cultural Experiences

The meaningful and mindful impact of incorporating cultural experiences into your itinerary is not only about creating memories and connections, but also helping the meetings and events industry contribute to humanitarian progression and understanding. Whether it is through learning a skill that is regionally significant to the destination, embarking on a culinary adventure with a menu of traditional cuisine or visiting community-based tourism museums and projects, the meetings and events industry is continuing to expand its interest in cultural experiences.

New Orleans is an ideal destination for cultural tourism and visitors will have a difficult time choosing what to eat, see and experience with all of the global influences in the city. The Eliza Jane Hotel sets the tone for visitors to absorb the city’s history and have easy access to its modern excitement. Inspired by 19th-century poet and publisher Eliza Jane Nicholson, this boutique hotel on Magazine Street is only steps away from iconic food and beverage establishments such as Commander’s Palace, and Café du Monde as well as famous music venues like the historic jazz spot The Spotted Cat Music Club. Between Magazine Street and the famous French Quarter, visitors of New Orleans will be surrounded by exciting options from one of the most culturally rich cities in America.

The Spotted Cat Music Club in New Orleans
The Spotted Cat Music Club, New Orleans


The Eliza Jane Hotel Library Lobby
The Library Lobby at The Eliza Jane Hotel in New Orleans

Alternative Tourism

More and more professionals are becoming less enthused with open bars or drink tickets and interested in trying more holistic offers at events—a practice now referred to as “alternative tourism.” With 46 states passing varying degrees of decriminalization legislation surrounding marijuana and CBD being legal since 2018, groups are interested in educating themselves about the booming cannabis industry and the hospitality industry is taking notice.

Top destinations for cannabis consumption are no longer confined to the stereotypical overseas one may think of such as Jamaica and Amsterdam. With Denver as a pioneer for alternative tourism, cannabis dispensaries and lounges—its Hotel Teatro was the first to implement a CBD cocktail menu in its in-house restaurant The Nickel—THC/CBD friendly hotels are popping up in major destination cities including Toronto, Seattle, the Bay Area and Las Vegas. But meeting professionals—make sure to check out the cannabis laws of your destination, as they differ amongst different states.

CBD infused non-alcoholic cocktail
CBD infused non-alcoholic cocktail

Healing Retreats

Mindfulness and work/life balance are becoming increasingly apparent as a necessity for not only individual mental health and wellness but overall productivity within a corporation and its industry. Especially in the summer months, a time associated with finding more relaxation and enjoyment in life, attendees will appreciate a summer meeting or event that has options for healing and wellness between work obligations. While it is true meetings, conferences and work-related events should have attendees focused on the tasks at hand, healing and wellness options in summer 2024 are trending more than ever and meeting professionals who incorporate healing and wellness will be sure to receive rave reviews.

For an oasis in the California desert in the outer Palm Springs area, the newly opened Sensei Porcupine Creek is an ideal destination for an incentive or small executive retreat focused on healing and wellness. With a mentality of three intersecting principles—move, nourish and rest—visitors can take advantage of the expansive options on the campus to fulfill all three modules in the resort motto’s criteria. Whether it is hiking on the trails of Rancho Mirage, stargazing at the Rancho Mirage Library & Observatory or meeting one on one with a Sensei Guide for a fully tailored wellness itinerary, healing and wellness focused destinations and activities for summer 2024 will be a trend that will have attendees returning to your events.

Private spa garden at Sensei Porcupine Creek
Private Spa Gardens at Sensei Porcupine Creek