Expert insights

Meeting room trends of the future are revealed

10 August 2017

From beanbag chairs and outdoor spaces to chalk-paint walls, here’s what delegates want in their meeting room of the future according to IACC international survey.

Home-style settings and open-air spaces that give delegates the freedom to network were cited by venues as popular requests in an international survey, IACC Meeting Room of The Future, by the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC) – and it seems that its findings were spot on.

More than 65 venues across four continents took part in the study. It found that 55.7% of venue operators think it is their role to provide a memorable experience for customers and their delegates.

The more creative meeting room

Meeting-room providers are certainly rising to the challenge of fostering creativity.

Hotels are making sure they leave an impression with themed interiors. Take the new ibis Styles Manchester Portland Hotel, which opened earlier this year. With interiors themed around the British weather, it includes a lobby decked with giant upside-down umbrellas, and rooms dedicated to sunshine, rain and autumnal breezes.

Themed events are also in demand by many bookers. For example, following the worldwide success of Game of Thrones, gala dinners and team-building exercises are increasingly adopting the theme. Meanwhile airlines are reporting increased bookings to Game of Thrones filming locations such as Northern Ireland, Iceland, Croatia and Spain.

Are you sitting comfortably?

When it came to seating, venues that participated in the IACC survey said that the ‘cosy’ factor was high on the agenda for meeting rooms. It seems that beanbag chairs and other funky touches are no longer solely in the realm of  advertising agencies, but increasingly popular in modern meeting spaces.

Modular furniture and ‘fireside chat’ style seating allow attendees to meet and interact in flexible, informal settings that can be reconfigured to suit the situation. Many venues reported adding facilities such as chalk-paint walls for scribbling on, or arcade-style video gaming, to meet delegates’ demand for fun, quirky touches that allow for more informal, sociable meetups.

Spaces such as Virgin Atlantic’s Clubhouse lounges are a great example of how recreational facilities, such as fußball and pool tables, can be integrated into smart settings.

Take it outside

The ideal meeting room may no longer be indoors at all. One study by Center Parcs discovered that 89% of workers indicated that they would like to spend more time outside during the working week. Meanwhile the University of Exeter found that access to green spaces increased productivity by 15%.

The amount of meetings happening al fresco is increasing, with many operators now offering outdoor meeting rooms, as well as other physical spaces and activities that promote blue-sky thinking. If you’d like some tips on putting together a successful outdoor meeting or event, read our expert tips.

Surfing and snacking

In terms of sought-after tech facilities in the events industry, gaming equipment, interactive white boards and charging stations were among the most popular meeting room additions reported in the IACC survey; but the number one priority across the industry remains high-quality broadband internet.

This demand for fast WiFi won’t go away, and reflects delegates’ need to connect with the outside world and keep in touch with colleagues and family at all times. Regular breaks and informal snacking at meetings make it easy for them to get online regularly.

In terms of food, healthy finger food is increasingly the norm, while fresh, locally sourced produce looms large on snack menus.

Making it memorable

“Delegates want a more memorable experience directly relevant to them and their own personal development, with a degree of flexibility in terms of the way they interact with the meeting and the content they take away,” said IACC chief executive Mark Cooper.

With creativity and well-being at the fore, it’s never been a more exciting time for business travellers and venue operators to organise a meeting.

Interested? Let’s have a chat about your company’s travel, meetings and events objectives - from the stuff that keeps you awake at night, to the everyday experiences of your employees! Call us on 0330 390 0340, or submit the details below, with an idea of the times that suit you for a call.