As we put a bow on 2023 let’s take a look back on the trends and surprises in the planning industry – AI and mobile technologies are two that stand out the most. Who would have thought AI would be such a buzz word for the planning industry, but it really did revolutionize personalization and take a strong hold on marketing concepts. Mobile technology has brought attendees together and created platforms of communication that connected people during, pre and post events. Let’s not fail to mention the convenience of agendas, maps and off site options right at your fingertips. If you were at a conference or convention in 2023 you now know there is an app for that! From where I stand there are no brakes on those two technologies, and we will be seeing how they evolve for us this year.
Reviewing those moments begs the question; what else is in store? As we enter 2024 and all the wonderful functions we are planning, it is exciting to know what attendees are valuing and how they want to spend their time away from home. Here is our planning watch list:
Drive To Destinations
They are easy on the budget and the traveler. Somewhere that is only a few hours away ensures attendees’ logistics are simple, it removes the drama of air travel and takes a lot of stress out of the trip. Our favorite part, they are better for expense reports. Less out of your travel budget means more opportunity to enrich your program with food and beverage experiences, add on events like team bonding, or off-site adventures.
More often we hear people want healthy food options and wellness movement additions like yoga or kayaking in their meeting programs. Building in a lifestyle aspect of great food and some fun mocktails embraces the person your attendee is outside of work and gives them the ability to be comfortable in the event and travel environment. This also bodes well for the caliber of your company as you have included their wellbeing in the footprint. Health is dominating conversations and decision making in our culture right now, plus it’s a fun way to take your event to the next level.
Travel is about connection and experiencing an authentic area for what it is. Finding unique options celebrates the local community, while also immersing your team in the full experience of a destination. This can be as simple as a menu of regional food and beverages, or activities that celebrate the locals’ pastimes – for example, in Ocean City this would be boating, fishing, hiking, and just in general taking in the natural beauty that surrounds the area. Hidden gems are what gives communities personality and keeps your attendees captivated.
Covid was terrible because we missed each other! Bringing the gang back together and hosting off-site events is one of the many pleasures we didn’t know we were taking for granted before the pandemic. And it’s pretty obvious to us that people are thrilled to be back at it again. We say fully embrace it, ditch the virtual as much as you can and get people connecting face to face at your events. Receptions, ice breakers, activities that make you move around and have a physical component brings so many elements together. This provides ample time to learn from one another, which is of course, why you have an in person event to begin with. If you could gain understanding and empathy for your team members through an email, you wouldn’t be hosting the event.
So, will technology continue to elevate us and rein supreme in the world of trends? Absolutely, but so will slowing it down, really honing in company culture, leaning into wellbeing initiatives, and embracing work life balance for team members.
We are looking forward to seeing all the wonderful progress we make in hospitality and events in 2024!