What will meeting rooms look like in the future?

This week’s post picks out further highlights from the 2017 IACC Meeting Room of the Future Report. Here we’ll focus on the “look and feel” of meeting venues, and specifically on which physical elements will take on added importance in the future.

1. Meeting planners are getting more savvy

Over many years, physical meeting venue elements thought to be critical to a successful meeting have changed little. As meeting planners strive to create engaging experiences, these same elements will likely remain important, with greater access to outdoor areas becoming more desirable in years to come.

Fast broadband, lighting and meeting room acoustics remain the most important physical elements of any meeting venues.

It may be possible to compensate for poor lighting, Wi-Fi, sound and video, but fixing poor acoustics is extremely difficult. Background noise, reverberation and echoes, and overflow from adjacent spaces can all impact meeting room acoustics. Good acoustics must be an integral part of the design of the space.

2. Internet infrastructure a priority

Both meeting planners and venues need to consider not just the speed of the internet in a venue, but its capacity to handle a heavy load when multiple meetings and delegates are using it simultaneously. More and more venues are looking to dedicated Wi-Fi capacity for each event.

Meeting planners now expect Wi-Fi to be included in venue rates, at a low rate or even free. If you plan on booking a venue soon, make sure the quote states clearly whether Wi-Fi is included, and at what rate.

Regarding Wi-Fi, Michael Piddock, Founder of Glisser says, “It’s important to have knowledgeable technical staff available to support the infrastructure. The best venues stand out by employing great tech people – and it really shows.”

3. Open, flexible spaces important

When asked to describe the physical characteristics of their ideal meeting venue, meeting planners mentioned these five terms most often:

  • Open
  • Flexible
  • Bright
  • Natural Light
  • Comfortable

When asked to rank their preference of several room types, meeting planners were most likely to use rooms with flexible layouts, or rooms offering lounge-style informal seating. Auditoriums and tiered meeting or lecture rooms are out of favour.

To make these more open, flexible, collaborative layouts a comfortable experience for delegates, meeting planners should be asking if the venue being considered is easily navigable by delegates, making the user experience, simple and easy. Increasingly, meeting planners are looking for plenty of natural daylight, without sacrificing a clear view of any display screens. Good design provides both, especially with direct-view flat-panel displays instead of projection technology.

Eileen Ettinger, Events Manager, The International Centre says, “I need to be able to customise my meeting room without a lot of restrictions. The criteria for my meeting rooms have increased drastically. Clients are more educated than they were before and a simple meeting room with bare bones will not cut it anymore. The AV quality, set-up tables, internet options, food originality in the space, etc. are all on the check list when it comes to finding a space that fits. Venues are having to upgrade once or twice a year to keep up with the demand of clients and their every-changing needs.”

4. Provide the “wow” factor

Meeting planners also reported flexibility in rooms, layouts and size, and alternative spaces as the leading differences in the meeting spaces they’re looking for today versus five years ago. These alternative spaces are unlike the sterile hotel meeting spaces they’re used to. These alternative spaces are a creative solution to creating the “wow” factor.

Meeting organisers often want the potential for different configurations, with lightweight furniture that can be changed around in the day without having to ask venue staff.

Jessica Utterback, Sales and Events Manager, Howl at the Moon St. Louis said regarding this, “I think a more global emphasis will be used and unique venues will be in higher demand instead of the traditional ballroom or meeting space.”

5. Bring the outside inside

Notable in this year’s report is an increase in demand for outside learning spaces. Outdoor spaces can shake up the monotony at meetings and increase delegate productivity.

Jeu Bressers, owner of Kapellerput Conference Centre and Hotel in Eindhoven, says, “You might think that holding a meeting outside, the attendees will be distracted. Brain science shows that learning in an unexpected environment, like outside in nature, triggers the release of dopamine to the hippocampus, the part of the brain that creates memories.”

Our final blog with tidbits from the IACC 2017 Report will be out soon!

 

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