As technology creeps into the meeting sector, attendees are becoming more vocal in the planning and execution of the events they participate in, and as the economy continues to recover, meetings and conferences are bound to continue to change.
HOT: High Demand for Hotels
NOT: Last-Minute Bookings
According to Benchmark Hospitality International, meeting demand and bookings are consistently on the upswing. Therefore, you will find very limited hotel availability if your booking window is 30 days or less. Most meeting associations recommend booking the venue a year in advance — especially if your conference is large and includes a trade show component.
HOT: Flexible Meeting Spaces
NOT: Permanent Room Setups
Comfortable seating, creative setup and design options, and meeting spaces that can easily be reconfigured are what attendees demand. They no longer want to sit in large auditoriums that resemble their college learning experience. They want to engage with the speaker and each other, whether it’s in a quiet nook outside the session room or at an outdoor function. Setting up the space to reflect your group’s learning dynamics will be a key component to the event’s success.
HOT: Fast, Reliable Wi-Fi Everywhere
NOT: Limited or No Wi-Fi Access
Nothing will turn off an attendee faster than having Wi-Fi in one space but not in another. Two examples come to mind: providing it in the general session but not in the breakout rooms or providing it at the convention but not on the trade show floor. Make sure you work with the Wi-Fi specialist at the venue to ensure Internet access is everywhere your attendees will be and that tools are in place for monitoring usage.
HOT: Mobile Apps
NOT: Conference Binders
Although this has been true for quite some time, attendees prefer accessing conference information via apps rather than lugging around and searching through a heavy-duty binder. However, I would recommend you poll your attendees’ use and knowledge level of apps and be sure to have a learning lounge or mentoring program for those individuals who use technology on a limited basis.
HOT: Sustainable Practices
NOT: Paper and Waste
Green meetings have slowly gained overall acceptance, and the meeting professional who puts these practices to work will win over the attendee, especially millennials. For more ideas on sustainable best practices, check out the Green Meeting Industry Council’s website.
HOT: Diverse, Healthy Food Choices
NOT: Unhealthy Options
According to a recent meeting industry report, 74 percent of planners stated that diverse culinary offerings are important when selecting a meeting venue. In addition, many of your attendees will be interested in organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan or locally grown foods. Implicit in this statement is they want it to be healthy while providing a wide array of choices.
HOT: Healthy Activity
NOT: All-Day, Sit-Down Meetings
Activity or exercise breaks can be implemented throughout your conference. Here are three ways to introduce them:
- During the breaks, offer 15-minute sessions that can include yoga, meditation or Zumba.
- Give each attendee a pedometer at the beginning of the day and ask them to wear it throughout the conference. Have them record their steps, and the one who has the most steps at the end of the meeting wins a prize.
Sponsor an after-hours activity — that can include walking along local trails, exploring on-site amenities or getting together in the waterpark.