Sustainable practices and data security were among the top priorities shared by meetings professionals around the world in the next five years, according to a report released last week.
Almost half of respondents (44%) indicated in the 2019 IACC Meeting Room of the Future report that ethical operations and sustainable practices will be one of the most important criteria for venues.
Food waste was the biggest culprit cited, with meeting planners concerned about the amount being generated by meetings and events and how it is disposed of. Majority of planners (62%) said they will look into how a venue manages its food waste before booking.
The survey drew responses from more than 250 meeting planners and industry experts from five continents, including suppliers.
"We are seeing more critical analysis of venues and practices before booking events and, especially, a real focus on sustainability and ethical operations. These are areas we expect to continue to develop over the coming years," said Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC.
Cyber security was another growing concern for meeting planners, with more than a quarter of respondents (27%) stating it will become a greater priority in the next three to five years.
More than three-quarters of respondents (76%) also report a greater concern about cyber security when implementing new technologies into their events.
"Events are vulnerable to a variety of cyber-attacks that can occur both prior to and during an event so organisations will need to take a holistic approach to security that addresses each type of threat," said Matt Harvey, vice president of internet services, PSAV.
"Event software developers, venues and Wi-Fi operator partners will be faced with the escalating challenge of improving security without diminishing the ease of use which will be key to the implementation of new digital technologies," he added.
The report also found that various meeting technologies have become mainstream, with 85% of respondents saying they are integrating platforms and tools such as audience participation apps, projection mapping and screen-sharing.
This is a dramatic spike in adoption from just two years ago, where only 8% reported using such tools.
The recent focus on experience creation, a trend driven by younger attendees and planners, has continued to grow. A majority of meeting planners (85%) now taking up the main responsibility, compared to two years ago, shaking up meeting formats, breakout sessions and teambuilding activities.
Dietary requirements have remained the number one priority in food and beverage for meeting planners this year. Of those surveyed, 88% felt assured that their venue provider of choice will accommodate special requests in advance of a meeting or event.
However, some believe more can be done by venues, such as ensuring serving staff are briefed on ingredients and potential allergens, labelling all ingredients for buffet spreads but also creating more exciting dishes for those who have dietary requirements.
The full report can be found here.