Ethical operations and sustainable practices will be one of the most important areas of focus for venues by 2024 according to IACC’s annual Meeting Room of the Future report 2019, which was released on Friday at MPI’s World Education Congress. The annual report brings together 250 meeting planners from around the world to provide venue operators with insights and understanding into how they need to adapt to meet changing demands.
Almost half (44%) of respondents believe that ethical operations and sustainable practices will be one of the most important elements for venues by the year 2024. A major concern raised by meeting planners, when asked about the biggest frustration in food and beverage offerings, being the amount of food waste that meetings and events generate and how it is disposed of.
A staggering 62% of respondents said that they will look at how a venue manages its food waste before booking; while 54% will consider the venue’s credentials when it comes to sourcing sustainable foods.
Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC, said: “This year’s report reveals some interesting new trends and shows that trends that have emerged in recent years are continuing to grow. We are seeing more critical analysis of venues and practices before booking events and, especially, a real focus on sustainability and ethical operations.
“These are areas we expect to continue to develop over the coming years. I am interested to see how venues and companies address the concerns of meeting planners over the next year and what changes we will see in the 2020 report.”
Jessie States, CMP, CMM, director of the MPI Academy at Meeting Professionals International, added: “Considering that millennials currently comprise the largest generation in the workforce, these findings shouldn’t be surprising, and this generation’s influence on the meetings and events we plan will only continue to grow.
“We’ll continue to see millennials drive the demand for educational and networking experiences as opposed to traditional conferences and meetings. It’s probably past time for us to begin discussing the impact of digital native Gen Z, as well.”
Cyber security is also a key topic – and an area of some concern – for meeting planners, with 27% of respondents stating that cyber security will become a greater priority in the next three to five years, with 76% reporting that they are concerned about cyber security when implementing new technologies into their events.
However, the basics are still a big factor – 47% of respondents said the provision of affordable or free high-speed internet was the most critical technology needed for meeting sin the next five years, while just 27% chose data security.
The report also revealed a dramatic increase (up 8% from 2017 to 85% in 2019) in the number of meetings which are integrating new technology, such as audience participation apps, projection mapping and screen-sharing.
Matt Harvey, vice president of internet services, PSAV, said: “Events are vulnerable to a variety of cyber-attacks that can occur both prior to and during an event so organisations will need to take a holistic approach to security that addresses each type of threat. Event software developers, venues and wifi operator partners will be faced with the escalating challenge of improving security without diminishing the ease of use, which will be key to the implementation of new digital technologies.”
When it comes to the types of new technology respondents have implemented at meetings in the last five years, event apps, social media, live-streaming and VR were frequent mentions. Others mentioned, but not as frequently, were off-site speaker location, projection mapping, screen-sharing, audience participation, simulcasting, Kahoot, Catchbox, chatbots, and stronger security.
Content still rules, but experience counts
Education, networking and business connections were the top three elements indicated by planners as being key to achieving meeting objectives. The report also points to the fact that the recent focus on experience creation has continued to grow.
Since 2017 the number of meeting planners now responsible for creating memorable meeting experiences has grown by 10%, to 85%. The rise in demand for experience-led meetings is being attributed to an influx of new generations both attending events and also planning them. Younger generations are providing a driving force for change to meeting formats, breakout sessions and teambuilding activities.
On respondent said: “Meetings are becoming more and more about what people get out of them and take away from them. It’s leaving the attendees with a “feeling” that causes them to talk about what they experienced but also changes their mindset.
“We’re no longer just informing and educating, but working to use these times to make an actual impact to the business. Equally, we are not looking at a meeting or conference as a singular event but more about how that event carries over into the year ahead and how the story continues after the event is over.”
To download the full report click here.