Event Management

Meetings Are Back But Look Different

Skift Take

Pre-pandemic playbooks have been kicked out the door. Instead, today’s events embrace experience while focusing on connection, community, and content. 

Meetings have returned, and many are now more of a conversation than a lecture. It’s all about face-to-face engagement and connection. Attendees expect to leave inspired and connected or will be reluctant to say yes to future gatherings. 

Challenges persist. Onsite staffing shortages, cost increases, and short lead times are a reality and impact catering and operations teams. However, with these changes come gatherings that are more fluid and flexible. 

Food trucks and street fairs are trending as the festivalization of today’s group experience is an old trend that is new again. However, there is less attention on spectacle and more on experience and wellness. The bottom line is companies are looking for more than just a meeting. They want a complete event experience. 

Aimbridge Hospitality, a global hospitality company, and Knowland, a data and hospitality technology company, collaborated on a report that tracks these changes in sales and catering. 

“All previous rules are out the door. Hotel group sales and catering and event teams are navigating the new normal and thinking outside the box to be creative and deliver on memorable events or create the next Instagram moment,” said Jeff Bzdawka, CEO of Knowland.With the resurgence of in-person meetings, celebrations, and events, the pandemic has reshaped how we work and gather, with new opportunities to create engaging experiences and unforgettable connections.”

There are several interesting trends that the report identifies. They include:

Flexible Meetings

Gone are the days of theater style or shoulder-to-shoulder classroom meeting spaces. Instead, flexible agendas are preferred to enhance learning and stimulate the senses. In addition, gamification is a popular way to ensure interaction and employee engagement. 

Social Media Worthy 

Catering and operations teams must be more creative with an eye on providing Instagram-worthy moments. Unique presentations are especially popular and include butter boards, sugar displays, and charcuteries. “Today’s successful meetings deliver differentiated experiences that live beyond their conclusion providing attendees with extraordinary Instagrammable moments,” said Jen Chauvin, VP of catering and event management at Aimbridge. 

Meetings Not Relegated to the Meeting Room

One of the most significant impacts of the pandemic is remote work is now becoming the new normal. As physical offices close or downsize, there is a greater need to bring employees together for face-to-face interaction. This has resulted in restaurants, outdoor patios, and more being converted into spaces for gatherings.

Wellness is Not a Nice to Have but a Must Have 

Groups are holding meeting professionals accountable for building agendas in spaces that support physical and mental health. With this trend comes an emergence of executives with titles such as chief wellness officer. As a result, employee well-being is of paramount importance today.

Photo credit: Andreea Avramescu / Unsplash