Diversity and Inclusion

Conference Quiet Rooms a Growing Trend

Skift Take

Quiet rooms may be designed to support those with some form of neurodivergency, but they end up benefiting all because, let's face it, conventions can be overwhelming. 

Exhibition company CloserStill Media has started including quiet rooms in its events and exhibitions to support those with mental health conditions or neurodivergence.

The quiet rooms are open during the show and build-up and breakdown, so contractors, visitors, suppliers, staff, and exhibitors can all have access.

The spaces feature soft furnishings, sensory lighting, mindfulness stations, fidget/sim toys, event streams, and ear protection. Trained staff are also on-hand to support when needed.

Addressing a Need

According to consultancy and auditing firm Deloitte, up to 20% of the global population has some form of neurodivergence, including autism, ADHD, dyslexia, epilepsy, and Tourette Syndrome. 

CloserStill Media runs more than 80 exhibitions annually in the learning, healthcare, technology, and veterinary sectors. It is committed to diversity and inclusion, accommodating each person’s needs, and plans to expand these continuously evolving spaces.

David Kelly, CEO of The Learning Guild, part of CloserStill Media, will have them available at all three learning conferences, each of which gathers more than 1,500 attendees, with the largest gathering 4,000.

“It is a space to leave the hustle and bustle of the conference floor to pause and reflect,” said Kelly. “With 4,000 gathered, a space that offers a break from the show is a welcome respite.” 

The quiet room is not the place to catch up on emails or work on a laptop. “It is a space to sit and relax and close one’s eyes if need be,” said Kelly. “If someone is tapping away at their laptop, it defeats the purpose. Think of a quiet car on a train. We control that level of quiet.”

Positive Reactions

In the UK, CloserStill Media has collaborated with EventWell, which offers supervised mental well-being hubs and quiet rooms. EventWell recently created a quiet room for the International Confex 2023. Attendees could put on noise-canceling headphones and listen to a Calm or Headspace meditation. They could also do mindful coloring, release any tension with fidget toys, or sit back and enjoy peace and quiet. A mental health and neurodiversity-trained EventWell Host was at hand for help and support.

“I attended the Learning 2022 show and overheard many attendees talking about how glad they were to see the quiet room there and how they felt it was such a smart and much-appreciated concept,” said April Walsh, vice president of U.S. Vet and new ventures for CloserStill Media.

The Be Well Lounge at IMEX Frankfurt is a staple of the show. It has run for multiple editions providing attendees with a quiet space as well as guided meditation sessions.

Photo credit: Miguel Neves / Midjourney