Meetings Industry Trends: 2020 Forecast

Experts have forecast the top meetings industry trends for 2020 – and sustainability and artificial intelligence are high on the list.

Both topics have been hitting the headlines in 2019 and look set to have increasing relevance in 2020.

With the negative environmental impact of single-use plastics causing concerns, more venues are signing up to the Meetings Industry Association’s campaign, 20 percent less, aimed at outlawing waste plastic. Sustainability will remain a major focus, as organisers will demand to see less waste on the table.

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Environmental impact
Organisations are set to explore further ways of reducing their impact on the environment. MIA said the industry had “made headway” in tackling the single-use plastics problem in 2019, but in 2020, the scope would be broadened to take into account other areas, including food waste.

According to registered charity the Waste and Resources Action Programme, the global hospitality and food service sector wastes around one million tonnes of food every year. The charity says there’s an urgent need to introduce initiatives to significantly reduce this figure.

Many companies are keen to improve their record, so WRAP believes they will be making a big effort to reduce their carbon footprint at meetings. MIA has pledged to support any sustainable initiatives implemented in the sector and will share tips on best practice throughout the year.

Experts predict the focus will be on the company’s corporate social reputation and how it actually practices its values on a daily basis.

New technology
Technology evolves continuously and artificial intelligence is set to improve meetings from a customer service point of view. Enhancements will include self-service check-ins, with electronic room keys being sent to delegates’ smartphones in advance. Registrations are likely to be handled through apps too.

Other projections include more “silent conferences”, where multiple speakers can present speeches in the same space, while attendees wear headphones that enable them to tune in to their chosen speaker. Live polling apps will allow organisers to get real-time feedback as their event unfolds.

Wellness needs
Aside from sustainability and AI, the wellness movement is set to influence meetings and events too. Employers will increasingly take responsibility for looking after their teams effectively and assuring their general well-being.

It’s predicted that events will have more time for breaks, including organised leisure activities, as business leaders emphasise the importance of taking care of employees – and consequently having a healthier and better-performing company.

The wellness meeting package could include providing catering using only fresh local produce, breakout activities, such as yoga and walking, and a mindful meeting approach to emphasise the “feel better, think better” mentality.

Business and leisure
Research carried out by the Experience Institute has revealed 71% of delegates believe the destination is a key factor in whether they will attend a meeting. In fact, up to 30% of delegates say it’s THE deciding factor.

Industry insiders believe this viewpoint will increasingly blend the corporate and leisure sectors in 2020. Planners will need to balance affordable venues with the delegates’ desire to meet in pleasant surroundings, where the facilities are conducive to a mini-vacation as well.

Event planners are set to embrace the role of an ad-hoc travel agent as they look into local dining, culture and heritage, travel options and the chance to add innovative team-building activities into the mix. Pick the wrong destination and venue and you could find people making their excuses.

In many ways, the destination should be considered integral to work culture, as getting it right will have benefits for the delegates and the company as a whole.

Staff happiness is the key to greater employee retention and productivity, so pushing the boat out when it comes to meetings and events is a small price to pay to hang on to a happy workforce.

&Meetings specialises in strategically placed, fully equipped meeting venues – we can even provide the catering! What’s more, our straightforward booking process allows you to rent our meeting rooms by the hour. Call us now on 0800 073 0499 for more information.

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