A Blueprint for the Future of Meeting Venues
Around this time every year, many break out their crystal balls to try to make predictions about what’s to come in the months and years ahead. Of course, no one can really predict what’s coming next. But a glimpse at current needs and wants can provide a blueprint for what will become important in the future.
This same thinking applies to meeting venues. Anticipating planners and attendees’ future needs is a lot like trying to select the winning numbers in a lottery. However, there are several key indicators trending now that point to what the future of meeting venues might look like.
Just like Apple did with the revolutionary iPhone, venues that anticipate early what planners want and are able to deliver those features and enhancements fast will find themselves with a unique, competitive advantage.
Check out these four ideas that can help meeting venues prepare for the future:
We’ve become so used to accessing information at our fingertips that Google has defined a new word: micro-moments. In every aspect of our lives, we increasingly turn to a smartphone to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something or even buy something – creating the rise of powerful micro-moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped.
The need for always-on and immediate gratification transcends to meeting venues. Event planners and event attendees both want instant access to information – whether that’s through audio assistants in the rooms (Hello, Google and Alexa), touch screen venue wayfinding, or even chatbots. At several events like Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit, attendees are already turning to an AI-powered chatbot to ask questions like, “When do the shuttle buses operate?”
Other AI-powered technologies are already redefining event check-in experiences and likely to trickle into meeting venues soon too. No more reading instructions on-screen, waiting to check in with a staffer, or finding a QR code to scan. Attendees and planners alike will appreciate meeting venues that support facial-recognition technology for visual check-ins.
Emphasis on Experiential
Experiential has been a buzzword of late, with planners putting more emphasis on making events and meetings interactive and as engaging as possible.
And that emphasis for experiential often begins well before a meeting or event even starts. Planners looking to visualize how a particular venue might look are event planning platforms like Allseated. This allows them to virtually tour event spaces, create floorplans in 2D and view in 3D. They are able to collaborate in real-time with vendors and clients and take virtual walkthroughs, which eliminates the need for onsite inspections. This adds an experiential layer to remote site selection and planning.
Experiential extends into meeting environments too. To keep attendees engaged, entertained and interested, venues need to support planners in their desire to create opportunities for attendees to participate and engage – like the flexibility to create more collaborative room layouts that foster creativity, themed food and beverage offerings, or offering other physical spaces and activities that promote team building.
Giving back and supporting others feels good – and is good for businesses too.
Increasingly, whether it’s for personal or professional organizations, buyers and attendees want businesses to integrate social impact activities in their business models.
Cone Communications, a public relations and marketing agency specializing in corporate responsibility, has found:
- 63 percent of Americans are hopeful businesses will take the lead to drive social and environmental change moving forward
- 87 percent will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they care about
- 78 percent want companies to address important social justice issues
Meeting venues that embrace values-based behaviors like corporate-social responsibility activities that give back, actively adopt waste and carbon footprint reduction initiatives or subscribe to supporting local suppliers with farm to table cuisine will satisfy both planners and attendees’ needs to do good.
Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT) – the vast interconnections via the Internet that allow everyday objects to send and receive data – our world is increasingly connected. Assimilating, analyzing and harnessing data points across all these connected devices provides valuable insights to improve decision-making and increase efficiency.
For meeting venues, IoT technologies like RFID badges and venue beacons can be used to track and provide insights into attendance behavior and traffic flow patterns. These insights can be extremely beneficial for providing detailed information to help planners gauge event success while also providing them with feedback to aid in future planning.
Venues can also benefit by embracing other event technologies that enable connections between attendees – whether that’s networking, matchmaking or peer-to-peer knowledge sharing (aka “braindates”).
Forward-thinking venues recognize that both planners and attendees’ needs and wants are rapidly changing (and truly require ability to plan remotely). Meeting venues that embrace ideas trending now will find they are well-positioned to take advantage of whatever the future may bring.