With the first quarter of 2018 having recently closed, and spring—the season of new beginnings—right around the corner, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the trends of this year. BENCHMARK, a global hospitality company, has rounded up the top 10 trends for 2018. Which of these have you already used in your planning strategies for the year?
1. Meetings That Matter—Making it Personal
Attendees want to be empowered by meetings and planners are looking to hotels and resorts to help facilitate that. Meetings should focus on openness, honesty, engagement, introspection, and transparency, all of which are mutually beneficial to the attendee and the organization. Properties can inspire these types of results by providing a little whimsy that stimulates appreciation, spontaneity, joy and fun during meeting experiences.
2. Technology: The New Normal
Technology is always going to on the forefront of meeting trends, and that is no exception this year. Apple TV, dedicated Wi-Fi, personalized apps and streaming live are all revolutionizing meetings and becoming the new normal.
3. Locavore Teambuilding
Culinary team-building initiatives in hotel kitchens are here to stay. They are both the most requested by meeting planners and the most approachable for meeting groups. A new variation of this trend? Bar wars, where teams create signature cocktails and then sample their recipes.
4. Fab Food. Lights Up!
2018 is bringing a focus on food and lighting. Keep attendees nourished with creative, participatory and healthy food options—event better if the snacks are locally sourced. Bring food to your event with food trucks, an Iron Chef competition, unique refreshment breaks and customized dining experiences. Then, make sure your room is lit perfectly with modern illumination and a focus on natural light.
5. What’s Shaking in Your Hood? Planners & Guests Want to Know
Groups are excited to get off the property for a few hours and visit the unique aspects of the location where they are gathering. It’s important to planners and attendees to discover places that the locals recommend and explore the under-the-radar aspects of what makes a destination special. This allows them to return to days of meetings refreshed and invigorated by the local flavor.
6. Free and Private On-Property Experiences
Meeting attendees desire free time—not just time away from meetings, but also time away from other members of the group. Many wish to utilize this free time with state-of-the-art recreational facilities. In our fitness-focused society, challenges workout options need to be available and complimentary to groups on-site and for all 24 hours of the day.
7. “I’m Busy; Email Me”
Professional meeting planners are busier than ever. While face-to-face meetings are preferred, time doesn’t always permit in-person visits. Because of that, email has become the main source of communication in this industry, and many others. It’s also a great and efficient way to spread the word about special opportunities and promotions.
8. Meeting Packages Pack Value
Value for the meeting dollar never goes out of style. Properties need to continue selling value-packed meeting packages covering all of the basic needs of a meeting, whether it’s a modified package or a full-on CMP.
9. Demand Holding on for 2018
Group size and meeting demand are both steady to last year, with some planners predicting considerably larger group sizes for meetings later in the year. This is also leading to a need for shorter meetings. The average meeting for 2018 is projected to last two days, with offshore or remote meetings running longer due to transportation logistics. This means a lot needs to be accomplished in a shorter amount of time, making every meeting minute essential.
10. Pharma-Healthcare Tops Business Segments for 2018
Healthcare, combined with major pharma, will still dominate demand for this year. Mixing it up a bit from previous years, education is in a close second place, followed by financial services, associations and technology.