Welcome to the meeting room of the future

As companies bring employees together for quality face time, what are their meeting rooms going to look like?

IACC CEO Mark Cooper examines the post-pandemic trends that are contributing to the meetings evolution.
IACC CEO Mark Cooper examines the post-pandemic trends that are contributing to the meetings evolution. Photo Credit: GettyImages/peterschreiber.media

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.”

IACC CEO Mark Cooper examines the post-pandemic trends that are contributing to the meetings evolution.
IACC CEO Mark Cooper examines the post-pandemic trends that are contributing to the meetings evolution.

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.

Which 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.



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