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Engaging Today’s Attendee – 5 Trends in Unique Meeting Design

By: Beth Becker, MicroTek | Apr 2, 2019

attendee1We have all read the reports, social media posts and tweets indicating that today’s attendees are demanding more unique meeting experiences. In fact, “experience” seems to be the word that comes up most often when tasked with designing an event.

Designing the right experience for your group will require a deep understanding of the meetings purpose, group demographic and attendee expectations. Armed with this information you will be able to incorporate the design trends listed below to create an event experience that will engage and delight your attendees.

1. Venues

The use of non-traditional venues is a trend that began several years ago, and seems to be increasing in popularity every day. Loft space, artist studios, quirky museums and even manufacturing plants and airplane hangars are being repurposed into unique meeting space. Select a venue that ignites your attendee’s curiosity, or creates FOMO (fear of missing out), and you will be on your way to creating an event experience that attracts and engages attendees like never before.

2. Locations

The desire of attendees to experience new and interesting places has led many meeting and event planners to seek out second- and third-tier cities. Not only can these cities be affordable options, but many are rich with history and character allowing participants to make a deeper connection with the local community. In addition, it allows attendees to experience cities they might not normally seek out on their own. 

3. Food and beverage

Today’s event attendees are far more conscious about the food they eat, the way it is produced and how it supports the local economy. The occasional vegetarian meal accommodation is now accompanied by requests for locally grown, gluten free, whole food, zero waste and more. Moving away from the traditional buffet by offering a selection of small bites, or menus focused on locally grown offerings, can enhance the attendee dining experience. Beverage selections that include tea stations, mocktails and locally brewed beers and spirits are also increasingly popular with guests.   

4. Unique seating

Non-traditional meeting room furniture is one of the biggest trends in meeting design, according to a recent IACC study. Seating can create visual interest, support the meeting purpose and help set the tone for the event. Think bean bag chairs to create a fun, casual environment, overstuffed couches to evoke a homey feel or modular furniture that can be re-arranged by attendees to encourage socialization and choice. Furniture blocks, such as those offered by Everblocks, allow participants to build their own seating, and can double as teambuilding opportunities. 

5. The space outside the space

Having space outside of the traditional meeting area is an important consideration in your event design. Now, more than ever, attendees are seeking out areas for impromptu discussions, quiet retreat, or quick check-ins with their office, email or social media accounts. Consider incorporating small networking nooks into your meeting design, including quiet areas where guests can go to relax or meditate between sessions. Outfitting these areas with furniture that offer charging capabilities will also be appreciated by the attendee.

For more ideas or information on the latest meeting trends, check out the MPI blog or Event Design Certificate Program.

About the Author: Beth Becker has more than 20 years experience in the travel, hospitality and meetings industry. Beth works full time as the global meeting services manager for MicroTek focusing on high visibility, enterprise-wide training programs, meetings and events. Active in the meeting community, Beth currently volunteers on the MPI-CAC Marketing Committee and as moderator for MeCo. She holds an additional role as global correspondent for i-Meet. You can connect with Beth via LinkedIn.

 

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