Over the past decade, the design and execution of business events, meetings, and conferences has undergone some significant changes: the introduction of sophisticated technologies, more space for networking and interactions, new learning formats and more. One aspect though that seems to have gone relatively untouched is the space in which those transformations are happening: the venue.
This change is, however, long overdue. At a time when people are used to navigate fluidly in the online world, the physical interactions must be just as smooth. Here, we outline 4 effective steps to adapt the event venue to how attendees engage with one another, the content of the event, and the surrounding environment.
People’s needs and expectations are constantly evolving both in their lives and at work, requiring an infrastructure that can change along with them. As a result, fixed, static spaces will no longer do the trick. An iterative and modular approach to space design will allow the venue to adapt and be reimagined based on the event programme but also different attendees’ needs. In the future, people will increasingly demand for spaces that are designed to be more intimate, like wellness rooms and quiet working spaces, as well as ones that are meant to excite and be loud – all within the same venue.
At business events, it is not at all uncommon to see delegates walk out of a meeting room with red eyes, an empty expression and tired face. These signs might be the result of a space not programmed with people’s wellbeing in mind. Many studies point to the ways in which environmental factors affect engagement and learning processes. For example, through preliminary experimentations led by Antonio Guadagnoli, MCI’s Global Director of Operations in Congress Management; it was found that attendees sitting on slightly more comfortable chairs rated speakers to be more convincing compared to attendees sitting in less comfortable chairs. Also, MCI’s preliminarily discovered that attendees rated temperature to be optimal between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius.
A trail-blazing example of the importance of meeting room’s wellness optimisation is the $550 million-worth development accomplished by Las Vegas’ MGM Resorts International. Its Madison Meeting Center - on top of featuring 10 flexible meeting rooms with ergonomic furniture and built-in audio-visual equipment – has also incorporated the DELOS Stay Well Meetings protocol: modern air purification, energising lightning, science-based food options and aromatherapy are only few of the feats designed to enhance information retention and wellbeing.
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The role of technology to keep on-site engagement high is here to stay. Therefore, every venue must be ready to provide the necessary infrastructure to power in-room technology. Again, the space should be flexible enough to accommodate tech devices without shifting the focus from the interactions happening in the room. The venue’s network bandwidth should be fast and reliable enough to support adoption of live streaming, apps, and more event innovations that will follow. Another key element is simplicity. An attendee’s user experience with the technology should be as simple and intuitive as possible to avoid feelings of alienation and distraction from what is happening live. Technology has to power human connections – not overshadow them.
As younger generations enter the workforce, we are witnessing a shift in the main ethical questions addressed in the business world. This means that attendees will expect and demand sustainable practices and green solutions at events. Thus, it is imperative for event strategists to include them in their event planning: going paperless thanks to technology, but also using technology only when necessary to save electricity, using recyclable materials and reducing food waste are few of the tactics that can be used to minimise an event’s impact on the planet.