IACC revealed the latest observations from its Meeting Room of the Future project, finding that planners are placing an increased emphasis on attendee engagement and personal development at their events.

“These elements need an inspiring and dynamic setting in which to thrive,” said Ellen Sinclair, Benchmark’s senior vice president of operations and chair of IACC’s Meeting Room of the Future initiative. “A boardroom, ballroom or auditorium, however many technical bells and whistles they have, can’t create that personalized and unique experience that planners and attendees now demand.”

Benchmark and IACC have partnered on the Meeting Room of the Future project since 2015. MPI also announced it will take on a wider role in the project at the IACC Americas conference in April 2017.

Benchmark and IACC said they intend to continue the project for "the foreseeable future."

150 industry leaders were surveyed for the 2017 report, which revealed the following key trends.

  • Planners recognize the impact of venues on productivity and creativity.
  • Experience and purpose remain constant, regardless of age. Seventy-five percent of the respondents said that meaningful experiences will become even more important.
  • Major objectives, such as determining ROI, value, networking and education won’t change, but the methods of meeting those goals will as technology and learning tools advance.
  • Flexible space is a top priority of 75% of those surveyed. However, as interactive technology advances, this may change. Right now, the most crucial meeting elements, listed here in order of importance are: quality broadband; acoustics; lighting; collaborative spaces; flexibility of room layout.
  • Eighty one percent of those polled said they have introduced new technology in the last five years, much of it interactive and social media based. These include social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, conference apps and audience participation apps. Tech-savvy planners demand user-friendly, relatable technology, and a capable tech support staff to help them quickly resolve problems.
  • Planners want to control the meeting’s organization themselves. Only 23% of those surveyed would consider outsourcing the process.
  • Collaboration, productivity, inspiration—technology enables all three.
  • Food and beverage service should support networking efforts with more informal “grazing” menus. Meal schedules should allow ample time to check in with offices, family and friends.

“Understanding the key trends in the delivery of meetings and the environments needed for an optimum experience is important for planners and venue operators,” said IACC CEO Mark Cooper. “With the help of our partners, including Benchmark, we [will continue to] invest in research to give us valuable information and understanding that allows us to make informed [meetings] decisions."