Meeting planners prioritise in-person collaboration and technology: IACC 

bic event

The value and outputs of meetings in-person mean face-to-face meetings remain crucial. However, the trend towards smaller hub and spoke format meetings with in-person regional groups connected virtually is here to stay, according to IACC’s Meeting Room of the Future Report 2022. The report was released on February 14 and was created on behalf of IACC by students from the Hotel Management School of Maastricht using interviews, a survey, and desk-based research.

According to the report, 84% of executives surveyed stated that they see higher team productivity when their employees are meeting in-person, and 78% of respondents are planning on attending an equal number of in-person meetings or even more when COVID-19 nears its end. However, the nature of in-person meetings has altered significantly, with caution related to travel driving more regional meetings where they were once larger, possibly national or global meetings. Interviewees said that they were comfortable staging multi-location meetings where there were live hubs connected together using technology.

The pandemic has brought to the fore the value and importance of human interaction, with this ranking the highest of seven factors when considering attending an in-person meeting, above expanding your network, scheduling and cost of attending. Collaboration with colleagues is also highly ranked. Testament to this is the fact that respondents cited teambuilding, training, and problem-solving as the main reasons for bringing people together. On the flip side, status and update meetings are widely regarded as subjects that can be delivered entirely virtually. 

The study pinpointed five factors that meeting bookers will be looking for in successful business events in the future: more collaboration between meeting participants; high quality of technology; a valuable means of communication; and the venues to recommend new, innovative ideas. Moreover, clients are looking for venues that share the same values as their own corporations.

Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC, commented, “While the pandemic has shown the ease of attending online meetings, it’s clear from our report that significant value is placed on face-to-face gatherings. However, the likelihood is that organisations will be more strategic about how and why they bring their teams together. It is clear that venues need to be investing both in their on-site offer as well as in ensuring they have the appropriate meeting technology to seamlessly connect companies requiring a hybrid meeting model. To deliver on the needs of meeting planners going forward, venues need to consider their ethical and environmental credentials to ensure that they are up to scrutiny and are clearly showcased to potential clients. Quite rightly, these issues are increasingly important decision-making factors for meeting bookers, particularly management of food waste and having a strong diversity programme in place.”

Health and wellness factors are also increasingly important, for example, the ability for attendees to gather outside to walk and talk. One respondent noted that “having outdoor meeting possibilities can have many benefits for the work environment and the ambiance between colleagues.”

IACC’s Meeting Room of the Future initiative reports on insights from meeting professionals, venues, and industry experts from three different continents. Starting in April 2022, IACC will publish a quarterly barometer report, which will bring together insights from several experts and organisations to demonstrate what follows for the continued recovery of the smaller conference, meetings, and training markets globally.