This year has seen a number of trends impact the marketplace. This article looks ahead to how trends such as personalisation and the sharing economy will evolve in 2017:
Sharing economy: More and more delegates now source their own accommodation through sites such as Airbnb and HomeAway and this looks set to increase in the year ahead. This move away from block bookings makes it more difficult for hotels to offer competitive prices on room blocks for depleted numbers. It also affects the atmosphere and cohesive nature of an event - the impact of evening event and informal after hours networking is lost as delegates disappear immediately after an event or conference in order to return to their accommodation.
Technology: With more and more technological products entering the market, we’re risking solution saturation. New launches entering the event tech market range from networking apps, digital goodie bags, crowd sourcing and polling technologies and devices, and 3D or 4D Immersion Projectors. The challenge is not only to keep up with these new products entering the marketplace, but to also evaluate them. The best solutions are the ones which directly impact on delegate engagement and experience. Technology that turns delegates from attendee to active participant will stay the course. At Maritim, we’re currently evaluating how apps can work for our business and benefit our guests by updating them on their booking or special offers.
Meeting formats: Virtual to live meetings enabling online communities to meet face-to-face, device free meetings and hybrid meetings combining face-to-face with virtually connected participants are all formats we can expect to hit the sector. Enhancing the experience through creative use of light, sight, sound and smell are all ways of freshening up the format and creating a memorable meeting.
Personalisation: The days when conference, meeting and event organisers could take a one size fits all approach are gone. Planners increasingly expect something different and innovative to help their event stand out. Likewise, delegates now expect the event to be tailored to them in some way. From the communication, the content through to accommodation and F&B, attendees are keen to craft their own experience of an event to ensure it meets their needs. A personal note or gift from the venue to welcome the delegate for example, or additional services so they can plan their downtime in a way that’s unique to them – restaurant recommendations and reservations for example.
Sustainability: Although being environmentally conscious is nothing new, a commitment to using and encouraging attendees to reuse and recycle helps to foster goodwill and tap into the rising passion for conserving natural resources and protecting the environment. Whether using recycled produce, working with local producers, donating unused products to local charities, it’s now increasingly rare for a large meeting or event to take place without environmental considerations and affiliation to a good cause. It’s the next generation of delegates (under 35s) spearheading this, meaning that green meetings are on the rise. Event planners are more likely than ever to rethink, reduce, reuse and recycle - and venues need to ensure there are green meeting options to allow them to do this.
Wellbeing: It’s now common practice to purposefully incorporate healthy nutrition, relaxation and mindfulness into events. This can take the form of existing delegate health and wellbeing packages offered by the venue or factoring in ‘white space’ between sessions for delegates to relax and gather their thoughts.
By Mark Spivey, director of international sales, at Maritim Hotels