Meeting Mentor Magazine

December 2023

Meeting Rooms of the Future?
IACC Report Gives a View

For the third year in a row, the convention industry association IACC has published its research report on trends in meeting room design and usage. “The 2018 IACC Meeting Room of the Future” compiles insights from more than 50 global venues, as well as meeting space designers, architects and technology companies.

Some key findings:

1. Venue operators and suppliers said that high quality internet will be the most important meeting element in the coming years. Indeed, 90 percent of surveyed operators said they have invested in internet hardware within the past two years. Here’s how venue operators responded when asked what meeting venue elements will be more important in the next three-to-five years:

• High-quality internet infrastructure: 71 percent

• Flexibility of meeting space (ability to move furniture, etc.): 60 percent

• Access to interactive technology: 53 percent
• Multiple options for food and beverage service styles and spaces: 53 percent 

• Enhanced public spaces to accommodate increased social/networking: 40 percent

• Access to authentic local area experiences: 11 percent 

• Availability of team-building activities: 7 percent

2. Venues will play an increasing role as strategic consultants in the areas of experience and education design. “Experience creation” increasingly is a core function of meeting planners as today’s attendees look for events that are meaningful, creative and personalized. As event budgets remain relatively flat while prices continue to rise, “meeting professionals will rely more heavily on their venue partners to help make choices that maintain the integrity of their brand experiences and education programs,” according to the study.

Venue operators said they can assist with experience creation in these ways: creative meeting rooms, themed food and beverage, outdoor meeting rooms/spaces, ice-breakers and team building (with culinary team building a popular choice).

3. Continuous refreshment service (instead of time-limited breaks) are becoming more common, and sustainability practices are becoming more important. For example, 90 percent of respondent venues say that sustainability and sustainable practices are more important to their venues than they were three years ago.

As the report details, the overall food and beverage trend is that F&B has been elevated to an entertainment experience. Guests are looking for new ways to interact socially during the dining experience. This might include participating in meal preparation, selecting their own food (a farm-to-table experience in which diners visit the fields first to pick vegetables) and touring the kitchen while chefs and staff show how they prepare the meals. 

4. Sixty percent of operators feel that the flexibility of meeting spaces will become more important over time. Suppliers named “non-traditional” meeting room furniture as one of the biggest trends in meeting space over the past three years. The report also noted that the cost of investment and product storage issues remain the greatest barriers to investing in new furniture/equipment for more flexible, creative spaces. “Tension exists between participant demand and the meeting owners desire to create custom, curated experiences within meetings and the investment and storage requirements that are placed on venue operators.”

You can download the full results of the Meeting Room of the Future report here.

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates.

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually.

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