The Future of Meetings in Hospitality
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The Future of Meetings in Hospitality

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The hotel meetings and events industry is going through a radical evolution due to new communication technologies, Millennial psychographics, and a rethinking of the overall purpose and value of......

The hotel meetings and events industry is going through a radical evolution due to new communication technologies, Millennial psychographics, and a rethinking of the overall purpose and value of meetings. Pop culture phenomenons like TED and SXSW are also changing the perspective of what’s possible at conferences. But are meeting planners and hospitality executives jumping on these trends fast enough?

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  • 1. The Future of Meetings in Hospitality The hotel meetings and events industry is going through a radical evolution due to new communication technologies, Millen- nial psychographics, and a rethinking of the overall purpose and value of meetings. Pop culture phenomenons like TED and SXSW are also changing the perspective of what’s possible at conferences. But are meeting planners and hospitality executives jump- ing on these trends fast enough? SKIFT REPORT #13 2014 This material is protected by copyright. Unauthorized redistribution, including email forwarding, is a violation of federal law. Single-use copy only. If you require multiple copies, contact us at trends@skift.com.WWW.SKIFT.COM
  • 2. Get the twice-monthly Skift Trends Report for the latest intelligence on the travel industry. Each edition in our new series of reports will brief you on a specific trend, providing insight into the current state of the market, the con- text around the trend, and where the industry is heading in the near future. After you subscribe, you will receive 24 reports direct to your inbox for an entire year. Reports are delivered as a downloadable PDF. Subscrib- ers also receive access to our archive. For any comments or questions, email us: trends@skift.com. Subscribe and check previous reports at: Skift.com/travel-trends. Subscribers have access to the Trends Report archives for the issues covered in his or her subscription Subscribe to the Skift Trends Report
  • 3. Table of contents About Skift Skift is a travel intel- ligence company that services to professionals in travel and professional travelers, to help them make smart decisions about travel. Skift is the business of travel. Visit skift.com for more. Executive Summary 3 Introduction 5 Legitimizing meetings (again) 8 Q&A with SVP of group sales/industry relations at Hilton Worldwide 9 The evolution of event technology 10 Technology driving the planning 11 Tech vendors 12 The rise of web-based meeting platforms 13 The rise of the hotel meeting website 14 The Pinterest planner 15 Getting serious about Wi-Fi 16 REN Meetings 17 A network of networks 17 Tech trends from Dave Nostrand, VP of sales, the Americas for Marriott International 18 Deconstructed meetings 18 Family meetings 19 Next generation strategy planning 20 Economic impact of meetings 21 The rise of outdoor events 21 Unique and small spaces 22 9 takeaways for smarter meetings 23 Further Reading 26 About Skift 27 The Future of Meetings in Hospitality SKIFT REPORT #12 2014 7
  • 4. Wildly popular events such as the annual TED Conference, South by Southwest in Austin, Oracle’s OpenWorld in San Francisco, C2MTL in Montreal and others are beginning to influence the traditional meetings industry. Integrating new technology platforms, myriad programming themes and alternative education delivery systems, the meeting of the future is focused on improving engagement among continually fracturing and distracted attendee audiences. This report examines the evolution of the meetings industry, specifi- cally through the lense of hospitality. According to the latest Con- vention Industry Council report, which tracks trends and collects data across all segments of the meetings market, 85% of meetings in the U.S. are conducted at venues with lodging, generating more than 275 million room nights annually. The traditional breakout room lecture and theater-style ballroom seating configuration are not going anywhere. However, there is a drive to supplant that with crowdsourced, co-created, hybrid events Executive summary The Future of Meetings in Hospitality SKIFT REPORT #12 2014 3
  • 5. with mobility and technology driving the change. While this shift is still in its nascent stage, innovative meeting planners, hotel groups and hotel conference services staff are developing programs to add new dimensions into the overall meeting scheme. As is the case in leisure travel, Millennials/Generation Y are driving these systemic changes in the meetings industry with their crav- ing for speedy career progression and connected digital communi- ties crossing personal and professional boundaries. They expect to cultivate as much professional development opportunities for them- selves at business events as they do for their employers, and they’re much more focused on physical/mental wellness and work/life bal- ance than previous generations. The advancement of technology in meetings is helping to cut costs, improve efficiencies and open new communication channels. Ho- tels are desperately trying to keep up with broadband demand and fully integrate their front- and back-of-house departments. At many hotels, meeting planners and hotel staff can now manage every aspect of large meetings in real time through cloud-based apps and web platforms. Social media is another major topic of discussion about how to en- hance the productivity and level of engagement in meetings. How- ever, it’s hampered by the reluctance of older generations steadfast- ly unwilling to embrace it. The rise of multi-generational meetings with three age demographics in attendance at any given event, each with different ideas of the role of meetings today, is becoming a sig- nificant challenge for the meetings industry. With the rise in demand across all age groups for more experiential, authentic and local travel experiences, no longer solely the purview of the leisure traveler, hotels are becoming more integrated with their local communities. This is one of the most wide open spaces for evolution in the hospitality industry, with more immersive edu- cational opportunities and networking experiences offering a strong return on time and investment for companies and attendees. The Future of Meetings in Hospitality SKIFT REPORT #12 2014 4