These are all fads from the recent past. Much of the population adopted and followed them with great enthusiasm for at least awhile.
The meetings industry is no different. Practices fall in and out of favor as the industry evolves. With that in mind, here are five of today’s top trends.
1. Agility rules. Some meeting professionals are showcasing their agility by making major changes to schedules and programs onsite during the event. Why are they allowing the sudden change? They are adapting their programming to the real-time immediate feedback of their attendees. The result? Attendees are thrilled to see such quick and immediate changes based on their needs and wants.
2. Meeting laboratories. Some conference organizers are using part of the venue space and their schedule to try new things. They are setting up meeting laboratories where attendees can test out new room formats and sets, new programming ideas and more. Attendees voluntarily participate in these experiments and provide valuable feedback to conference organizers so they can make changes to upcoming events.
3. Creating “we spaces” not “I spaces.” Space is the body language of any conference. When you walk into most spaces, the space tells you how to behave. Savvy meeting professionals are creating temporary spaces that foster collaboration and innovation among users. Informal furniture grouped together in pre-convene or large open areas let participants socialize and converse. White boards on wheels give participants the ability to capture thoughts together. These spaces also foster a sense of belonging and encourage people to connect.
4. Learning trumps telling. Attendees have increased expectations of better conference experiences that meet their needs and wants. They no longer want to be passive consumers of the experience. The emphasis is on attendees’ learning and not just consuming information from the speaker’s mouth. Hearing a speech does not equal learning. Telling information is no longer enough. Attendees are demanding better learning experiences.
5. Merging of meetings and education/programming departments. Nearly 20 years ago, many organizations had a combined meetings and education department. Then the trend shifted to separate departments in an attempt to streamline the expenses of meetings and events. After a decade of the two departments working independently, organizations are combining them again. Why? Meeting professionals got very good at providing great logistics. However the attendees’ experience suffered greatly. Keeping the programming and logistics separate resulted in an average or status quo attendee experience. Now there is renewed emphasis on improving the experience and increasing the attendees’ ROI.