With a new year on the horizon, Kindred Resorts & Hotels, a collection of independent hotels and resorts focused on the group and meetings market, shared its 2018 meetings trends forecast. Kindred’s data is based on a survey distributed among its 63 properties located throughout the United States. Next year looks to be a promising one for the meetings industry with an array of interesting trends expected to dominate.

Trend No. 1: 2018 Looks Positive for Group Business

Kindred’s survey reported that just over 40 percent of the properties met their 2017 projected revenue for group business, a decline of nearly 20 percent compared to the previous year. Delayed bookings due to the 2016 election as well as natural disasters in the Southeast contributed to the decline, among other factors. However, over 70 percent of Kindred properties reported an expected increase in group business for 2018.

Trend No. 2: Say Goodbye to the Traditional Coffee Break

The traditional coffee break will go untraditional in 2018 according to Kindred properties. Groups will want to embrace health and wellness by getting outdoors and partaking in activities instead of simply pausing in between sessions to check email over a cup of coffee. Meeting planners are looking for and finding a variety of ways to keep attendees engaged during breaks. Kindred Resorts & Hotels are anticipating the demand for diverse break experiences to increase with groups booking forest bathing, archery, animal interactions, nutritional workshops, meditation sessions, various types of yoga and even oxygen breaks.

With a focus on increasing attendees’ energy, these new break activities are expected to be accompanied by healthier food and beverage choices with less sugar and an emphasis on organic offerings.

Trend No. 3: Attendees Demand More Free Time for Networking

Another nascent trend expected to grow in 2018 is that meetings and conferences will become more retreat-like and transformative. Instead of the traditional full day of meetings, planners will be expected to add longer breaks and more free time to the itineraries, giving attendees the opportunity and time to really soak up and enjoy their surroundings as well as the individual experience of the destination where the meeting is being held.

Planners will want to provide guests with time to immerse themselves in the local culture and surroundings as well as partake in more brainstorming, networking and teambuilding activities versus lengthy lectures.

Here’s what’s “out” for 2018, according to Kindred:

According to Kindred’s survey, classroom-style and boardroom meetings will be on the decline in 2018. Outdoor meetings continue to drive demand as groups no longer want to sit in traditional meeting settings all day. Cottages, barns, pool decks, restaurants and common areas are expected to be used more often.

Paper will continue to be replaced by technology in 2018. Meetings have become increasingly eco-focused over the years with less paper and plastic items being handed out. The use of technology, from scheduling and event apps to social media and downloadable event programs, will continue to eliminate the need for paper.

“At the majority of our properties, booked business is on the rise and 2018 is predicted to be a strong year,” said Bree Brostko, managing director of Kindred Resorts & Hotels. “The way people want to meet is changing which provides exciting opportunities for our properties and their clients. Being healthy, connecting with colleagues in a meaningful way and in a distinct setting, are all going to be important [for attendees and planners].”

For more information on Kindred Resorts & Hotels, check out www.meetkindred.com.