IACC has released its annual Meeting Room of the Future report. The paper reveals that, as the global meetings industry continues to develop at a rapid pace, venues must continue to adapt to meet both planners’ and delegates’ expectations, especially around F&B and internet infrastructure.
The report aims to understand how global venue operators, industry experts and key suppliers are responding to planners’ changing expectations and needs, as identified in IACC’s 2017 buyers’ survey.
It brings together insights from over 50 venues across four continents, as well as suppliers including global meeting space designers, architects, technology companies, furniture manufacturers and nutrition experts.
“As the industry evolves and expands, just as meeting planners must continually evaluate all elements of the meeting experience, operators and suppliers must also ensure they are meeting and anticipating the changing needs of planners,” said IACC’s CEO, Mark Cooper.
“The survey was designed to highlight these growing needs; we looked specifically at experience creation, meeting room space and design, technology and internet capabilities as well as culinary trends.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the report shows that operators consider high-quality internet to be the most important meeting element in the coming years, and that some are already implementing comprehensive contingency plans around internet outages in response.
When it comes to investment in technology-related infrastructure, the top three spending areas are bandwidth (33%), AV equipment (20%) and collaborative technology (15%).
This year, the number of venues offering free collaborative technology to clients increased from 11% to 28%, with smartphone audience participation and screen sharing software being provided most frequently. However, most venue operators still see it as a premium product offering and charge accordingly, which creates a barrier to adoption amongst clients.
Health and wellness, more homely settings and flexibility are also identified as trends venues are responding to with new offerings. Nearly 70% of venue operators report that at least three-quarters of their meeting rooms have furniture and equipment that allows for flexible layouts, while 37% report that 100% of rooms offer this flexibility.
One area venue operators and planners see differently is the need for networking spaces outside the meeting room. While 40% of planners see this as important, just 29% of operators agree.
Discussing the role that breaks play in meetings, Cooper adds: “More operators are offering continuous refreshment breaks this year than previous years, however the Report’s findings suggest that, while meeting planners agree that the format of breaks and meal times needs to evolve in the future, they were divided on whether the trend should move towards short, more frequent breaks or longer breaks and meal times to allow in-depth networking.”
The IACC Meeting Room of the Future is an initiative led by IACC, with the goal of sharing the association’s vision on what meeting spaces will look and function like in the future. The initiative brings together research, trends and innovations with the single goal of predicting, creating and shaping the future of meeting environments.