In the Covid endemic period, companies are not only calling their
employees back to the office but also gathering them together for
much-needed quality face time.
For meeting organisers and planners, a few questions come top of
mind. For instance, what's driving companies to gather their employees
together? Are digital and virtual solutions here to stay? And what kind
of design elements and experiences should venues be able to provide?
Social by design
According to Mark Cooper, CEO of International Association of
Convention Centres (IACC), who shared his insights at IMEX 2022 in
Frankfurt, a primary driver for companies to round up their employees is
the socialisation aspect.
“The central element of the meeting is getting more bandwidth,”
Cooper said, adding that it is increasingly evident that venues will
need to adapt meeting structures. Companies want their employees
to gather as “one, big family community” because “the social element of
the meeting is, by far, the most important".
He stressed the significance of social spaces and opportunities
outside of the meeting itself to planners and organisers. “You’ve got to
look at the value of those accidental collisions or conversations that
are taking place outside of the meeting room.”
Venue quality and flexibility
The venue’s ability to provide quality diverse, multi-purpose
settings, is equally important, Cooper said, and companies are willing
to pay for it. Venues will need to have collaborative workspace
environments so that employees, in between conferences, will be able to
either meet one on one or in smaller groups, or work productively on
their own for a few hours.
He reiterated the importance of a venue’s design and how this impacts
the attendees’ degrees of interaction and socialisation outside of the
actual meeting. “Are they really suitable for those sort of
conversations? Have they invested in the value of those social spaces?
Because collaboration with colleagues, human interaction is really up.“
Eco vs. econ
Sustainability is an imperative for venues of the future. Moving
forward, Cooper predicts that meetings professionals will be willing to
pay a premium for a venue that is committed to social responsibility and
the environment. “It's important, as a community, as an industry, to
invest in the future,” he said.
Dividends due from meetings
Cooper also believed that digital solutions, the ability to run
real-time, multi-location hybrid meetings, will not be going away but
instead will become even more affordable and user-friendly in future.
means that when people actually do get together for in-person meetings,
this could be happening with less frequency but that attendees will be
seeking to extract greater value out of the experience.
“The value that we need to get back from those meetings is going to
be higher than it was before, because it's going to be more important to
us,” he said.