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Future meeting trends to watch

PCMA and Marriott International outline five consumer trends set to impact the business events industry in a big way.

Together with Marriott International, PCMA unveiled five macro trends that have the potential to change the face of the business events industry.

Presented this week at Convening Leaders in Pittsburgh, the research initiative brought together external voices to develop hypothesis and provocations around trends that will impact the industry in the next five years; with a focus on emotional intelligence, brand purpose and design thinking.

Marriott International and PCMA worked with innovation expert, Kate Fairweather of New York–based agency Fahrenheit 212, and strategy consultant and founder of Fruition agency, Amy Blackman, to identify the following trends:

Emotional Intelligence
Designing with the end-user in mind
Meetings and events will need to move past reactive adjustments and adopt a proactive approach to personalised experiences, understanding the needs of participants before they arrive.

AI is providing meeting planners will powerful tools to collect and analyse emotional data; transcending demographics or personas to understand who participants are on a deeper level.

Orchestrated Serendipity
Engineering the unexpected for more meaningful moments
Experiences must embrace freedom and surprise, freeing consumers from the constant constraint of schedules or agendas. By embracing the unexpected, we can engage participants and leave a lasting impression.

Google believes that “casual collisions of the workforce” are crucial for productivity and innovation, and has designed its campus in a series of interconnecting rectangles so that employees will always be in close proximity with one another.

Multimodal design
Designing for adaptation and iteration
Every event has a unique objective and audience and a space must reflect each event’s specific personality and needs. Space is critical to any event, and should be designed to adapt to the ways that participants will engage.

Spaces can no longer be designed with one journey or path in mind, but in a way that accommodates parallel paths and different need states. Immersive technology like 3D projection mapping can be utilised to create multiple environments that weave content into a physical space.

Bigger than oneself
Acting on a meaningful message
You can’t just provide content anymore. Every event must have a message. Participants want to understand what’s important to a business, and experience events that deliver that message down to the smallest detail – allowing them to meaningfully connect with the experience and bringing purpose to their engagement.

Just as consumers choose brands with messages, event participants will increasingly choose, and return to, events whose messages and values align with their own. Participants will look more to discuss and address serious societal issues at events.

Clear sense of place
Leveraging geography for deeper enrichment
Sterile spaces or generic locations no longer make the cut – consumers are looking for exploration and adventure; and unique locales and authentic experiences are a draw in and of themselves.

The most memorable events celebrate local surrounding, enriching visitors, exposing them to the local culture, and connecting them with the community to increase engagement. This presents a ripe opportunity for emerging destinations.