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Evolution of Meetings: In-Person Connections Are Back, and Here to Stay

Teambuilding on Lake Conroe at Margaritaville Lake Resort, Lake Conroe, Houston.

The old adage of “the more things change, the more things stay the same” applies to a handful of industries, and the meeting/event planning business is no exception.

Over the years, conferences, meetings and events have, without a doubt, greatly evolved. These opportunities to gather, motivate and collaborate have become much more sophisticated, especially in regard to content delivery and the technology associated with delivering that content. 

It did not seem so long ago that printed and bound programs were a staple at any conference or meeting, alongside PowerPoint slides and jump drives! Meeting planners spent hours creating those materials and revising them several times before going to press. 

Those tools have since been replaced with downloadable mobile apps and a variety of presentation software options designed to make meetings more interactive and engaging. Thanks to these tech-driven advancements, meeting planners can now focus more time on the actual content, and its effectiveness in delivering the message instead of constantly updating documents and slides.

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Because of this emphasis on content delivery, many meeting venues, including ours, have onsite venue managers who will work hand-in-hand with meeting organizers to brainstorm and develop the optimal delivery of that material, with a mission of exceeding the organization’s expectations.

The menu was once the major highlight of any meeting or conference. Today, while food and beverage continues to be a primary focal point, we also look at menu selection to assist in delivering the content and underscoring the message. 

Meeting and conference planners also need to consider the decor, seating, lighting, presentation delivery and even subtle touches like aromatherapy.  All of these elements can add energy to a meeting or a conference and contribute to its overall success.

Margaritaville Lake Resort, Lake Conroe, Houston aerial photograph.
Margaritaville Lake Resort, Lake Conroe, Houston

Changing Attendee Expectations

As the individual components of meetings have changed, so have attendees’ expectations. In today’s fast-paced, deadline-driven—and increasingly remote—world, bringing people together for a day or several days for a meeting or seminar has taken on new importance and relevance. 

Now more than ever, meeting organizers are looking for ways to maximize valuable time together while building in free time for participants to relax with activities centered around teambuilding.

This has led resorts like ours, Margaritaville Lake Resort, Lake Conroe, Houston, to offer meeting planners a variety of teambuilding activities they can integrate into their overall agendas that are fun, engaging, and interactive. Organized completely by our staff, these experiences are a great way to improve communication, help co-workers to get to know each other, and help businesses and organizations of any size to achieve their goals. 

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Now more than ever—and most likely in the future—meeting organizers are looking for ways to maximize valuable time together while building in free time for participants to relax with activities centered around teambuilding.

Meeting and conference attendees are looking for much more than the delivery of content; they are looking for and craving meaningful experiences with their colleagues. These gatherings, especially as we continue to operate in a post-COVID 19 environment, are critical touchpoints for businesses of all types to keep morale high and team members engaged and inspired about their work.

The More Things Change...

Despite the many changes that have impacted the meetings industry, one element has not changed, and that is the intrinsic value of being together—not over Zoom or Teams, but in-person. 

No technology can ever replace shaking a hand, sharing a hug or participating in a lively and productive teambuilding activity. In-person events can encourage co-workers, colleagues and clients to be fully present and engage with each other in authentic conversations that foster relationships and trust.

[Related: 5 Interactive Learning Formats to Engage, Inform and Inspire]

Beyond my more than 30 years in the hospitality industry, this is something I also know in my heart, as do my colleagues. Businesses and associations across all industries have an innate, common need to be together to not only survive, but thrive. 

While technology and other outside forces will undoubtedly shape the nature of the industry as we move into the future, forging personal connections and the need to be in the company of others will always be a mainstay. 

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About the author
Tom Faust

Tom Faust is the vice president of sales and marketing for Margaritaville Lake Resort, Lake Conroe | Houston, with 30-plus years in the hospitality industry.