Editor's Blog

What’s on the menu? Bar wars, amongst other things
Mon 19 Aug, 2019 at 12:00 am

Technology is revolutionising meetings in 2019 in ways never seen before! Properties are being asked to create apps for a specific meeting on demand during the meeting, to launch live streaming of sessions to remote points so team members outside the conference can participate, to send up-dedicated WiFi signals for specific meetings or sessions within a meeting and to provide Apple TV on demand. It’s the new normal, you say? Yes, they are the new normal: Apple TV, dedicated WiFi, personalised apps during meetings, streaming live!

Despite all the unique team-building programmes out there that have moved well beyond the streamlined courses, culinary team-building initiatives originating out of the hotel’s kitchen remain by far the most popular across the globe, the most requested by meeting planners and the most approachable for meeting groups. What’s on the horizon?  Bar Wars, where a team creates its signature cocktail and then samples the recipe. A big hic-hic-hurray for the winning teams. But then, there are only winners in this game.

What are top priorities with meeting planners going into 2019? Superb, creative, participatory and healthy food options sourced locally and that may include food trucks on property, master chef competitions, customised dining experiences and highly creative refreshment breaks. After the body is sufficiently and creatively nourished, the mind needs a perfectly lit environment for productive learning and planners are demanding 21st century lighting in all rooms – not just the meeting space, complemented wherever possible by Mother Nature’s natural illumination.

You know what else matters to planners in 2019?  What’s happening in a property’s neighbourhood – importantly, what the locals recommend as the quirky, under-the-radar highlights of their destination. Many groups like to get off property for a couple of hours or for an afternoon and explore the unique aspects of the locale where they are gathering. Afterwards they return to the meeting refreshed and invigorated.

Complimentary on-site and state-of-the-art recreational amenities providing tangible unique experiences for meeting attendees are another of the top requirements requested by meeting professionals in 2019. Though this may seem obvious, in today’s fitness-crazed world, recreational facilities are expected to include state of the art and challenging fitness options that are complimentary and readily available to groups around the property—and able to be experienced at the guests’ leisure, increasingly on a 24-hour basis. For the first time, ‘privacy’ is a top demand from planners and I don’t mean private workout sessions. As business becomes increasingly competitive, privacy within meetings and apart from all other groups on property is essential and demanded by planners.

Professional meeting planners are busier than any previous year with more on their plates and fewer team members to deliver expected results. Though they love personal visits when schedules permit, severe time constraints dictate email communications as their preferred method to stay in touch and learn of opportunities and special promotions. And yes, you can text, too, if you know the planning professional well.

No matter how hot the economy, value is always in vogue and properties best remember this and negotiate accordingly. How to meet this challenge? Sell value-packed meeting packages as meeting planners love packages for their components covering all the basic needs of a meeting. Value for the meeting Rupee never goes out of style. Why, because new supply is coming online in multiple markets, creating pricing pressure for everyone and planners are using this to negotiate best value pricing with no hidden costs.

Meeting demand is healthy worldwide, with select markets looking to exceed last year’s numbers and select mature markets falling a bit behind. The expectation, though, is for demand growth in 2019. Meeting lengths are tightening up and the average meeting for 2019 is projected to last just two days. Off-shore or remote meetings are longer, given transportation logistics getting to islands or more distant resorts. A lot needs to be accomplished this year in a shorter period of time, making every meeting minute important, including off property and culinary experiences.

My engagement the event organisers reveals that planners are looking to hotels and resorts to create meeting environments that empower attendees to be introspective, inspire engagement, openness, honesty, transparency and epiphanies that are mutually beneficial to the attendee and their organisation.

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