Benchmark released its "Top Meeting Trends for 2018.” The list compiles observations from the global hospitality management company’s portfolio of 70 hotels, resorts and conference centers.

Trend No. 1: Entering 2018 Cautiously Optimistic.

The American business environment and consumer sentiment is encouraging, and the pending tax implications are expected to create a positive effect for meetings throughout the year as businesses leverage the opportunities (and income) and increasingly invest in their employees.

Trend No. 2: The New Normal | Apple TV, Dedicated Wi-Fi, Personalized Apps, Livestreaming |

Technology is revolutionizing meetings in 2018. Properties are being asked to create apps, launch live streaming of sessions, to send “up-dedicated Wi-Fi” signals for specific meetings or sessions within a meeting and to provide Apple TV on demand for planners, speakers, attendees and other guests.

Trend No. 3: Locavore Teambuilding.

Culinary teambuilding activities are the most popular coast to coast, the most requested by meeting planners and the most approachable for meeting groups. Make sure to account for dietary restrictions!

Trend No. 4: Fab Food. Lights Up!

Superb, creative, participatory and healthy food options that are sourced locally are on top of planners’ menus in 2018. That may include, but is certainly not limited to, food trucks on property, Iron Chef-inspired competitions, customized dining experiences and highly creative refreshment breaks. Another top demand: 21st Century lighting in all rooms, not just meeting space. Natural lighting is also key.

Trend No. 5: What's Shaking in Your Hood? Planners and Their Guests Want to Know!

Questions planners are asking: What do locals recommend? What’s happening in a property's neighborhood? What are quirky, under-the-radar highlights of the destination? Groups like to get off property for a couple of hours and when they do so, want to explore the unique aspects of the locale.

Trend No. 6: Free and Private On-Property Experiences.

Complimentary on-site and state-of-the-art recreational amenities providing tangible unique experiences for meeting attendees’ top requests by meeting professionals. Recreational facilities are expected to include challenging fitness options with top facilities, complimentary and readily available to groups.

Privacy is also a top demand from planners in 2018. As business becomes increasingly competitive, privacy within meetings and apart from all other groups on property is essential.

Trend No. 7: "I'm Really Busy, Just Email Me."

Meeting planners are busier than ever with more on their plates and fewer team members to deliver expected results. Though they love personal visits when schedules permit, email communications are becoming a preferred method to stay in touch and learn of opportunities and special promotions.  

Trend No. 8: Meetings Packages Pack Value. Planners Demand Value Pricing!

Value is always in vogue and properties best remember this and negotiate accordingly. Value-packed meeting packages covering all the basic needs of a meeting are extremely important to planners.

Trend No. 9: Demand holding on for 2018. Group Size is Static. Two Days and Out.

Meeting demand is healthy nationwide, with select markets looking to exceed last year's numbers and select mature markets falling a bit behind. The expectation, though, is for demand growth in 2018.

Group size is steady to last year with some planners discussing considerable larger group sizes for meetings later in the year. Meeting lengths are tightening up, with the average meeting for 2018 projected to last just two days. Off-shore or remote meetings are longer, given transportation logistics.

Trend No. 10: Meetings That Matter – Making It Personal

Planners are looking to hotels and resorts to create environments that empower attendees to be introspective, inspire engagement, openness, honesty, transparency and epiphanies that are mutually beneficial to the attendee(s) and their organization(s). A customized experience is the way of the future.

Bonus Trend: Pharma-Healthcare Tops Business Segments for 2018. 

Actually, major pharma is taking a bit of a step back in 2018 as a significant contributing industry to meetings, though when combined with healthcare, the joint segment will still dominate demand for the year. Education is a close second followed by Financial Services, Associations and Technology.