Benchmark released its "Top 10 Meeting Trends for 2019.”

The annual list is compiled from guest observation and feedback from the company’s portfolio of 80 hotels, resorts and conference centers. Benchmark’s brands include Benchmark Resorts & Hotels, Gemstone Collection and etc.venues.

“We learn a lot from our guests,” said Ted Davis, chief sales and marketing officer for Benchmark. “The speed of life and business is laser fast today and this includes meeting environments. But we’ve also learned that moments of togetherness, where the pace slows a bit are genuinely treasured.”

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Benchmark’s 10 meeting trends for 2019 include the following.

  • Trend 1: Privacy is the No. 1 Technology Requirement. Privacy and security of information for conference guests is paramount to planners. Super-fast and reliable Wi-Fi is a must at venues and it must be secure.
  • Trend 2: Food for the Soul. Since conference guests tend to be concerned with wellness, learning what food they are putting into their bodies is essential, and they come to the table well-informed. Here's what they want in 2019: Food that is fresh and locally sourced, in-season when flavor is most robust, presented in small bites and enjoyed family style. Expect vegetarian and gluten free, paleo, keto, pescatarian, vegan and religious dietary requests—and that's only the beginning.
  • Trend 3: Don't Facebook me. Don't Tweet me! According to the report, email by far continues to be the most preferred method of communication among planners and attendees. Be respectful of a one’s time and aware of how they prefer to communicate.
  • Trend 4: Preference for Independents. Flexibility, customization, authentic and unscripted experiences all rank high in the minds of planners today. So does the feeling that independent properties excel in providing these experiences for groups looking to attend memorable and highly productive meetings. Another issue is also at hand: commissions. This issue is of significant importance to third-party meeting planners.
  • Trend 5: What Millennials Want From Meeting Venues. Millennials have a long-list of demands that includes specific technology needs; multiple plug-ins and USB ports in meeting rooms, public spaces and in guest rooms; entertaining and fun activities on property and outside; and non-traditional seating and meeting arrangements. The big reveal, Benchmark found, is that millennials want privacy rooms for personal conversations, sensitive phone calls and other needs.
  • Trend 6: Curated Travel. Curated travel for groups on or off property is highly importany. Even corporate executive leadership is weighing in with a growing desire for a trained and diverse workforce, while a younger workforce is valuing experiences.
  • Trend 7: Millennials Team Build Differently! Culinary teambuilding remains popular and planners are looking for entertainment in teambuilding.
  • Trend 8: Outdoor Evening Options. The most popular after-hours scene at meetings involves gathering around an outdoor fire pit on property and relaxing with colleagues over cocktails and s'mores, Benchmark reports. Absent fire pits, doing something outdoors and nearby is how today's meeting participants want to unwind.
  • Trend 9: Speedy Response. Lightning fast response is essential for planners.
  • Trend 10: Work/Life Balance. Wellness is huge for meeting planners. Diet and healthy menu planning remain an active focus in negotiations. But wellness today is so much more than a proper diet—it's also largely about work/life balance.

What meetings trends are you noticing in 2019 as you plan meetings and events?

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