IACC, formerly the International Association of Conference Centres, released the results of its annual Meeting Room of the Future research, which emphasizes that venues must continue to adapt to meet planners' and delegates' expectations on food and beverage and Internet infrastructure. The survey of planners and suppliers, the latest in a series conducted by the association since 2016, was conducted to see how venue operators, industry experts and suppliers are responding to the changing expectations and needs of meeting planners as identified in IACC's 2017 report on buyers.
"As the industry evolves and expands, just as meeting planners must continually evaluate all elements of the meeting experience, operators and suppliers must also ensure they are meeting and anticipating the changing needs of planners," said IACC's CEO, Mark Cooper. "The survey was designed to highlight these growing needs; we looked specifically at experience creation, meeting-room space and design, technology and Internet capabilities, as well as culinary trends."
The quality of a venue's Internet infrastructure will be the most important meeting element, Cooper noted. The survey found more venues have created Internet disaster-recovery plans since the 2016 supplier study, "a sure sign that venues and planners understand the important role that the Internet plays in meetings collaboration and connectivity," he said.
Concerning meeting breaks and F&B, more operators said they are offering continuous refreshment breaks this year than in the 2016 research; however, while planners agree that the format of breaks and meal times needs to evolve, they were divided on whether there should be more frequent, shorter breaks so attendees can get back to the classroom, or longer breaks and meal times to allow in-depth networking.
More than 50 venues across four continents, as well as suppliers such as global meeting-space designers, architects, technology companies, furniture manufacturers and nutrition experts participated in the study.