Emerging trends for conference venues

What do clients want from venues in 2017? and what will they want in the future?

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Megatrends such as socio political factors, the local and global economy, demographics, security and safety, mobility, urbanisation, sustainability and technology are hugely affecting the meetings industry.

Recent political changes suggest reactions against globalisation will impact national and international events. Skills shortages and recruiting good staff have been issues in the UK in recent years and we could find this is worsened by leaving the EU.

Encouraging people to enter the hospitality industry will help and we need to spread the word of the career opportunities and benefits of  working in the conference industry from school age upwards.

Robotics will also impact the workforce. According to McKinsey’s 50% of tasks now done by people could be done by robots in future. However only 5% could be done entirely.

On the one hand we need to ensure we engage the younger end of the workforce (see our recent research with Imago on Inspiring the leaders of tomorrow). Yet people are living and working longer. So attendees at meetings are potentially people from 16 to 90 plus.

This has implications for the design of facilities, the service we deliver and how we market to target customers as well as how we recruit employees.

More interactive communication,  more cabaret style meetings,  breakout sessions, less formality to all meeting sessions, no formal presentations – all these trends are changing requirements from venues for meetings and conferences.

Our recent BMEIS (British Meetings and Events Industry Survey 2016/17) reveals that organisers’ concerns are all about money. Costs/budgets and value were cited as the biggest factors affecting their events for over 50% of respondents.

Providing high quality facilities at acceptable rates is just not enough. Up to 75% of organisers are looking for added value items in their rates. What ‘added value’ means varies for every organiser so negotiating and understanding what matters is key to converting enquiries to bookings. 31% said they were looking for cash incentives (plus a further 12% who understood subvention) -all much higher figures than in previous years.

To gain competitive advantage in future venues will need to be open to new ways of working, new ways of holding meetings and breakouts (for example use bean bags and outdoor spaces). Clients dislike the ‘one size fits all’ approach. We need to listen to their needs, find out more about who is attending the event and propose individual offers with creativity and imagination. If they are looking to shave off costs then being transparent with costs will help ensure a win-win for both sides.

Retail is a useful analogy. Low cost brands are gaining market share yet premium brands are as sought after as ever. The middle ground is being squeezed. The same is true for venues. Some clients want luxury venues that help attract attendees and rewards hard working employees. Others want the lowest costs meeting space they can find.  One venue can meet both requirements as long as they are flexible and can quickly react to change.

Remember, if you don’t innovate, you die! But you only have to be 1% better than your competition to win.

Sally Greenhill, The Right Solution.

 

You can download slides on these trends here

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