The Future of Meetings: AI, Sustainability, and Appeasing Gen Z

IACC’s “Meeting Room of the Future” report illuminates evolving trends in the event industry

The way we meet is evolving, and conference centers are taking note. According to a new report by the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC), the industry is embracing new technologies, adapting to changing attendee preferences, and prioritizing sustainability.

The IACC’s “Meeting Room of the Future” report, based on insights from 170 global venue operators, highlights several key trends:

Limited AI Adoption, Big Potential: While AI use is still low, with most applications focused on marketing and data analysis, there’s significant interest in expanding its role. Menu planning, food waste management, and guest services are potential growth areas.

Catering to Gen Z: The report acknowledges the next generation’s meeting habits. Venues are incorporating more breaks and fostering smaller group settings to encourage interaction, a shift likely aimed at appealing to Gen Z’s preference for collaboration and informality.

Nature Connection is Key: Over 70% of venues are now actively incorporating nature into the meeting experience. This could take the form of access to natural light, outdoor meeting spaces, or biophilic design elements.

Shifting Food and Beverage Trends: Meeting attendees are drinking less alcohol, and venues are grappling with a rise in complex dietary needs. This necessitates a focus on flexibility, inclusion, and sustainability in food and beverage offerings.

Sustainability Takes Center Stage: The report underscores the industry’s commitment to environmental responsibility. Waste reduction programs and the elimination of single-use plastics are commonplace, with three-quarters of venues now holding sustainability certifications.

“This research highlights the ongoing transformation of live meetings,” said IACC CEO Mark Cooper. “Venues are adapting to create the kind of experiences that business event organizers and attendees are demanding, with social responsibility at the forefront.”

The report serves as a valuable resource for the small meetings industry, according to IACC’s Global Chair, Nancy Lindemer. “The importance of creating engaging networking experiences and integrating nature with technology is crucial,” she said. “Meeting planners and venues alike need to be prepared to deliver on these evolving expectations.”

The full report can be downloaded from the IACC website.

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Photo by: Unsplash+ In collaboration with Getty Images

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