In-person collaboration, technology and ethics top meeting planners’ wishlists: IACC

The cover of IACC's recently released report

The value and outputs of meeting in-person mean face-to-face meetings remain crucial but the trend towards smaller hub-and-spoke format meetings with in-person regional groups connected virtually is here to stay, according to IACC’s (International Association of Conference Centers) Meeting Room of the Future Report 2022.

According to the report, 84% of executives surveyed stated that they see higher team productivity when their employees are meeting in-person, and 78% of respondents are planning on attending an equal number of in-person meetings or more when Covid-19 is nearing its end.

The report covers the trends and factors affecting future demand for the external meeting venues

However, the nature of in-person meetings has altered significantly, with caution related to travel driving more regional meetings, where they were once larger, possibly national or global meetings. Interviewees said that they were comfortable in staging multi-location meetings, where there are live hubs connected together using technology.

The pandemic has brought to the fore the value and importance of human interaction, with this ranking the highest of seven factors when considering attending an in-person meeting, above expanding your network, scheduling and cost of attending. Collaboration with colleagues is also highly ranked, where respondents cited teambuilding, training and problem-solving as the main reasons for bringing people together. On the flipside, status and update meetings are widely regarded as subjects that can be delivered entirely virtually.

The study pinpointed five factors that meeting bookers will be looking for in successful business events in the future: more collaboration between meeting participants; the high quality of technology; a valuable way of communication; and venues to recommend new innovative ideas. Moreover, clients are looking for venues that share the same values as their own corporations.

Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC commented: “While the pandemic has shown the ease of attending online meetings, it’s clear from our report that significant value is placed on face-to-face gatherings.

“However, the likelihood is that organisations will be more strategic about how and why they bring their teams together. It’s clear that venues need to be investing both in their onsite offer, as well as in ensuring they have the appropriate meeting technology to seamlessly connect companies requiring a hybrid meeting model.

“To deliver against the needs of meeting planners going forward, venues need to consider their ethical and environmental credentials to ensure that they are up to scrutiny and are clearly showcased to potential clients,” Cooper advised. Such issues are increasingly important decision-making factors for meeting bookers, particularly management of food waste and having a strong diversity programme in place.”

Health and wellness factors are also increasingly important, for example the ability for attendees to gather outside to walk and talk.

One respondent noted: “Having outdoor meeting possibilities can have many benefits on the work environment and the ambience between colleagues.”

IACC’s Meeting Room of the Future reveals the insights from meeting professionals, venues and industry experts from three different continents. Starting in April 2022, IACC will publish a quarterly barometer report, which will bring together insights from several experts and organisations to demonstrate what follows for the continued recovery of the smaller conference, meetings and training market globally.

To download the full report, click here.

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