The meetings landscape is constantly evolving. In order to keep attendees coming back year after year, planners should have a finger on the pulse of what's trending within the industry.
To help event coordinators stay ahead of the curve, Benchmark, an international hospitality management company, has released a report on five trends that are poised to transform meetings this year. Trends were compiled using data from Benchmark's diverse portfolio of meetings properties.
1. Millennials Move to the Forefront
As Millennials make up a growing percentage of conference attendees, planners should consider their needs and wants when putting together the event agenda. This may include incorporating advanced technology into the conference, offering personal enrichment and wellness initiatives, and being able to accommodate a range of dietary restrictions.
"We’ve seen this coming, but in 2020 Millennials have become the dominant force in meetings and their impact is being felt by planners and venues alike," said Ted Davis, chief sales and marketing officer at Benchmark. "Our sales and conference services teams are responsive to their needs for everything from building personal time into meetings to accommodating a myriad of out-of-the-ordinary dining requests to creating curated destination experiences customized to the individual interests of the Millennial -- all of which needs to be considered when planning, preparing for and executing meetings today. This is having a transformative influence how we approach the group meeting experience."
2. Sustainable F&B Is in Demand
Another trend sweeping the events industry is sustainability. Benchmark predicts that creative, eco-conscious and plant-based foods will dominate meeting menus in 2020. Tapping a creative chef for an event, someone who can accommodate dietary restrictions and turn healthy foods into tasty, Instagram-worthy dishes, is key. Planners should also pay attention to where the food is being sourced from and how it is being prepared.
3. Average Group Size Is Growing
Despite economic, political and business concerns, the demand for meetings remains strong, according to Benchmark. The company reports that the average meeting length is three days and average group sizes are increasing. The top three sectors investing in meetings this year are the pharmaceutical, education and technology industries.
4. Add Charitable Activities to the Agenda
Group gatherings are a great opportunity to give back. For more impactful team-building, planners should consider incorporating charitable activities into the agenda. These initiatives encourage attendees to work together to promote positive change in the local community.
5. Go Beyond the Boardroom
What happens during the meeting doesn't have to stay in the meeting room. According to Benchmark, a growing number of attendees are looking to get off-site and experience some local color. As such, event coordinators should consider taking guests to visit cultural or historical attractions in the city. Meetings can also be booked at local restaurants, bars and distilleries for a change of scenery. Moving off-site can help keep attendees engaged and create a more memorable meeting experience.