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Meetings industry trends 2014

Jan 30, 2014 | Blog

In December our editorial highlighted the positive upturn on bookings within the event industry during the second half of 2013. This trend is set to continue into 2014 with the UK expecting to see an increase in the quantity of meetings, meeting spend and delegate numbers, according to research by American Express Meetings & Events.

The firm’s Global Meetings Forecast predicts that London will remain the number one meetings destination in Europe for the second consecutive year.

Despite the improvement there are still challenges facing UK venues including keeping costs to a minimum and ensuring flexibility and competitiveness in an ever increasing market. Embracing new digital technology is set to become one of the most important factors for venues in the years to come. This was highlighted by the Global Meetings Forecast which identified increased pressures to use social media and mobile apps to communicate with attendees before, during and after meetings. These apps have become essential event management tools, and they also provide a valid paperless solution that aids the growing call for sustainable events.

Live technology will continue to be a crucial tool in gaining real-time feedback during events.  Event planners are now able to tailor and adapt events to suit individual attendee requirements, from personalised invitations, to bespoke mobile itineraries on arrival, to interactive voting at the event. This feedback can be used to shape the agenda of the remainder of the event to make sure attendee needs are being met.

The increased use of social media surrounding events will impact upon venues, whose customer service will have to become more reactive as a result of the immediacy of potentially viral interactions such as Twitter comments and Facebook posts.

Other trends highlighted by the Global Meetings Forecast included keeping meetings closer to home and using in-house facilities; increasingly complex and more rigorous meeting approval processes, and a 2.5 per cent increase in the use of non-traditional properties, such as outdoor venues, universities and public attractions.

VisitEngland also revealed that the use of unusual venues increased during 2013 and this trend is expected to continue. Event organisers are looking for venues that take delegates out of the boardroom and into more natural environments that will help to stimulate creative thinking.

The UK has a vast array of unique event spaces including historic houses, religious buildings, castles and unusual outdoor spaces like wildlife parks, activity centres and zoos. These venues can often incorporate options for out of the ordinary team building exercises onsite, including tours of the historical sites, high ropes or zip wire courses or orienteering, which can aid creativity and energise attendees.

Clients and event planners are also increasingly expecting venues to find ways to balance luxury with sustainability and a green ethic. A recent survey by VisitEngland revealed just what a foodie nation we have become, with nearly 8/10 (76%) of us wanting to dine at restaurants serving local dishes. Locally sourced produce is becoming popular within the corporate world as it ticks the corporate social responsibility box. Many venues are reflecting this in their catering menus and this trend will gain momentum throughout 2014.

These trends demonstrate a clear need for venues to continue development in the areas of event technology, sustainable practices and utilising innovative and creative event spaces and activities.

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