CHICAGO, IL – As part of a dynamic new initiative from IACC, a first set of research has been conducted and reported following the survey of global meeting planners. The IACC Meeting Room of the Future™ aims to transform the meeting experience through a global collaboration of leaders in conference room design, audiovisual technology, hospitality, academia and conference management. The project and initial global survey results were unveiled at IACC-America’s Connect annual conference in New York City this week. The project combines innovation and entrepreneurialism with the expertise of meeting industry professionals and planners.
The report highlights that the meetings industry is transitioning at a rapid pace. As the meetings industry landscape continues to evolve and expand, meeting planners must continually evaluate all elements of the meeting experience in order to ensure they are providing the most relevant environments to foster collaboration, ideas exchange and relationship building among attendees.
Mark Cooper, IACC CEO, comments, “While the overall objectives and goals of meetings have generally remained constant, there are clear indicators that the adoption and use of technology, the physical design of meeting space and the emphasis on experience creation will be increasingly important. Compounding the pressure on meeting planners to adopt and incorporate these tangible meeting elements is the increased requirement to demonstrate the value of meetings to their leadership, peers or clients while simultaneously operating in an environment of shrinking budgets. It is critical for meeting venues to respond accordingly and provide those elements that are increasingly sought after and important to the overall meeting objectives.”
Meetings Now and in the Future
Meeting planners are cognizant of the impact of meeting venues on delegates’ productivity, creativity and ability to respond to new ideas and thinking. As meeting planners look to the future, it’s clear that their decision making process is largely based on their observations on changes within the industry over the past several years.
• 75% of responding meeting planners report that their current role involves more “experience creation” versus two to five years ago.
• Over 77% of respondents report that access to interactive technologies, such as tools to encourage audience participation, collaborative communication platforms and others, are more important now versus the last several years.
• 47% report the importance of flexible meeting space now versus in the past.
Using these indicators as a road map for future trends, meeting planners predict an increased emphasis on, and need for, select venue elements.
Currently, the flexibility of meeting space is the most important venue element when evaluating meeting space, followed by access to interactive technology as well as networking spaces adjacent to the meeting/event space. Access to interactive technology, however, is projected to surpass flexible space in the upcoming years.
Physical Meeting Spaces and Design
The report states that fundamentally, there are elements of meeting venues that are critical for successful meetings and these have largely remained constant over the past several years and are projected to remain important in the years to come, including high-quality broadband, strong acoustics and good lighting.
However, meeting planners do cite a continued trend towards more unique and flexible meeting spaces. When asked how strongly they agree with the statement, “Access to collaborative meeting space will become more important in the next two to five years” (on a scale of 1 -strongly disagree to 10 -strongly agree), meeting planners provided an average rating of “8” indicating the need for more creative, less traditional options.
Communications & Connections
While meeting planners have numerous wish list items for their ideal meeting venue, there is no mistaking the critical importance and dominance of technology when selecting a venue. Responding meeting planners report that an increasing percentage of budgets are devoted to securing and implementing new technologies, such as event apps, beacon technology to track traffic and attendance and video conferencing capabilities, the reliance on technology is only expected to increase in the next several years.
Now and well into the future, meeting planners will expect venues to have enough bandwidth to accommodate all of their and their delegates technological needs.
The program’s ambitious long-term goal is to predict and showcase a clear vision of what is new for today and what solutions need to be sought for tomorrow’s meeting rooms, to deliver what clients want and need for maximum productivity. Collaboration, productivity and inspiration will be at the heart of the 2016 concept, with the plan to build on this annually.
The initiative brings together the brightest minds and companies in the industry, to create both a physical and virtual meeting environment. “As the only global association representing smaller meeting and conference venues, IACC is singularly-positioned to spearhead this initiative,” affirms IACC’s CEO Mark Cooper.
Ellen Sinclair, Global Project Group Chair, highlights, “IACC, in pursuing its mission to provide support meetings’ excellence, is engaging industry visionaries to provide insight on reimagining meeting spaces and resources to support memorable meeting experiences in the rapidly transforming landscape, that values collaboration and dialogue as well as more formal content. This initiative will keep us forward facing, ready to deliver the productive meetings in the future.”
Current contributors and research partners include Meeting Professionals International (MPI), Microsoft, Development Councilors International, Showgizmo, Corbin Ball Associates, Sli-do, Warwick Conferences, MGSM Executive Hotel & Conference Centre and PSAV.