A decade or so ago you could grasp everything you needed to know about conference centers eponymously; they were a physical place to confer, first and foremost. Education was a conference hallmark, with a dash of networking thrown in, but items like teambuilding and entertainment were clearly lower priorities, with F&B seen almost as a necessary evil.

But changes have come, and dramatically so. Suddenly, the conference centers of today are more about standing out than fitting in, with an emphasis on experiential offerings, cutting-edge tech and memorable gatherings.

The IACC Perspective
The International Association of Conference Centres (IACC) is one group at the locus of this shift, with a recent move to emphasizing the event experience rather then the venue alone.

The changes were in full display at the recent IACC Americas conference in Los Angeles, with lively fun that included sessions being kicked off by rock bands, beach balls bouncing through the audience, and the high-caliber Copper Skillet cooking contest providing a sizzling culinary showcase for attendees.

“Our members are no longer looking exclusively at best practices within the hospitality industry. We are now incorporating the latest innovations in other industries, including design, fashion and general retail,” said IACC CEO Mark Cooper.