Personalisation powered by technology, authentic experiences and opportunities for interactivity are among the top trends for the MICE industry this year. WorldHotels' regional vice president of sales for Asia Pacific, Ganessan Suppiah, and director of sales for Central Europe, Anke Ebinger share more.
1. Virtual assistants and event apps are on the rise, amongst others
Technologies, such as virtual assistants and artificial intelligence, positively impact guest experiences. Virtual and augmented reality, web casting, live streaming and video conferencing are becoming increasingly important for venues to stay at the top of the game.
Mobile applications are also a key feature, easing event registrations and offering a mode of communication, both before and after the events.
"It is essential to ensure that our guests' journey is easy and efficient," shared Suppiah. "Technology helps to personalise experiences; it does not replace human interaction, but enhances it."
Suppiah also sees an increase in virtual event attendance. Venues need to provide opportunities, for online attendance and intervention, to allow participation from within and beyond the event space. 360-degree images and virtual reality on YouTube, Facebook and Periscope are becoming increasingly important for event promotions.
In addition, while the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force last month, will present some challenges, there will also be opportunities to improve data quality and transparency.
2. Organisers' preferences towards business meetings that offer authentic experiences
Venues that provide tranquil settings are growing in popularity, with business meetings at locations that lie closer to nature becoming more in demand.
"Go local" is another growing trend - guests desire to be immersed in local culture; authentic travel experiences are highly sought-after.
Events are required to be more experiential as organisers yearn for unique, tailor-made experiences instead of a cookier-cutter approach; having flexible meeting spaces is near the top of every participant's wish list.
"Meetings should not be dull. Spa treatments, team building exercises, cocktail courses... Venues that provide fun activities, alongside the serious business focus, will help to attract clients," said Ebinger.
3. Engaging with a younger audience: interactivity and relevance
There is a growing need for organisers to create more interaction and involvement from the audience. Younger generations may not fancy traditional speakers; people prefer engagement to instruction. Interactive elements, greater collaboration among people and information exchange sessions are now more critical.
Ebinger also noticed that the younger generations (Gen Y and Z) are more conscious of their wellbeing and health. People are opting for fresh and healthy food, instead of sweet pastries, with a strong emphasis on "brain food".
Catering is no longer solely a venue facility, but is being regarded as a platform to impress guests. Organisers are expecting creative food showcases with novel concepts, especially when they are content-worthy for social media feeds.