The Future of Meeting Venues

Selecting the right venue can determine the difference between an amazing meeting and a disastrous one. There are countless aspects that a planner needs to consider when choosing a venue. Location, service, and food and beverage all come to mind. IACC surveyed more than 150 meeting planners from five different continents to learn what venue features are most important to planners.

Seventy-five percent of respondents reported that their jobs now require more “experience creation” than they did two to five years ago. Planners today must compete with cellphones and tablets for participants’ attention, so unique and immersive experiences are key. Millennials are also changing the conversation. According to the report, this tech-savvy and constantly connected generation prefers experiences over meetings.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that many respondents selected technology and flexibility as key considerations. Seventy-seven percent of planners surveyed believe access to interactive technology that allows audience participation and collaboration is more important today than it was five years ago, while 47 percent report that flexible meeting spaces that can be rearranged for a variety of purposes are more important now than they were then.

Flexible meeting spaces are more in-demand than ever because many attendees are embracing nontraditional meeting and conference formats. Rather than using the usual lecture format, some conferences are experimenting with an “unconference” meeting style, which empowers participants to set the agenda and topics themselves. These more collaborative settings usually require flexible space that can be configured in different ways to boost communication. Collaborative spaces outside of meeting rooms are also becoming increasingly important, as more attendees are looking for ways to network and collaborate in informal spaces.

These days, growing numbers of meeting planners are embracing event technology. Eighty-one percent of survey respondents have introduced new tech to boost communication between hosts and participants. They recognize that event tech such as onsite apps, live event streaming and video conferencing can do wonders to boost attendee engagement. Therefore, a venue’s capability of handling the latest technology is paramount.

According to survey respondents, a great venue should have good lighting and acoustics, excellent audiovisual capabilities and, most importantly, fast and reliable Wi-Fi. IACC’s survey reports that planners selected broadband as the top physical feature that a venue must have. In this day and age, high-quality broadband and technology infrastructure are no longer optional: With the growing popularity of audience participation technology, an unconnected attendee is an unengaged one.

As workforce demographics change, the meetings landscape must change to suit attendees’ shifting needs. With planners and venues working together, the meetings industry will surely be well-equipped for the future.