Hilton Worldwide Senior Vice President of Group Sales and Industry Relations Larry Luteran offers his insights on upcoming trends for the meetings and event industry in 2015.
Increased value being placed on face-to-face meetings
The discussion and development on tools for virtual meetings stems from the global dispersion of many companies today. In today’s hyper-connected world, many businesses have offices, clients and vendors across the globe. With the technology to connect with colleagues no matter their location, the business world has put greater emphasis on virtual meetings and the ease in which they connect a global audience. Decision-makers are also facing a growing list of responsibilities, and with that, the streamlined orchestration virtual meetings offers has gained broader appeal.
While a virtual meeting can accomplish many things, I still believe strongly that there’s something special about meeting face-to-face and the return on investment metrics attached to face-to-face prove it. You can’t replicate the level of understanding and connection that comes from an in-person meeting – it can be magic! While I don’t expect technology and virtual meetings to become any less important, I see them as a supplement to the face-to-face meeting. There are still many things that can be lost in translation with virtual meetings.
The bottom line is – you can’t compete with the energy and connection that comes from meeting face-to-face. Virtual meetings can be effective but shouldn’t be done solely without opportunity to meet in person. Whether a group makes in-person meetings happen monthly or even quarterly, the added value in this can have a lasting impact on reaching goals.
Holistic meeting planning
It’s been asked whether holistic meeting planning takes away from the business aspect of a meeting. We’ve actually seen the contrary. Holistic planning certainly enhances the business aspect of a meeting.
We’ve found when attendees’ well-being is taken into consideration, they’re able to contribute in more effective ways. For example, we recently had a lot of positive feedback come out of the “Wellness Wake-Up Call” workout session we hosted at IMEX, led by celebrity trainer Michelle Lovitt. Those who attended the workout said it was such a positive way to start the day and that they left feeling energized for their long day of business meetings ahead. Since IMEX, we’re seeing even more requests to host similar types of well-being events. When you’re taking note of how people feel during a business meeting and can improve that for them, they are going to be more likely to want to engage.
A recent group at our Hilton Chicago took the attendees for a nice walk along the waterfront in the middle of the day. Aside from the invigorating experience of being outside and exercising in a beautiful setting, the attendees made note of how much “white space” business discussion took place during the walk and commented on how they got more things done on the walk than at any other time during the meeting. As an added benefit, they left even more excited about the experience of being in Chicago having enjoyed the unique destination outside the walls of the hotel.
Growing recognition of the importance of small meetings
The volume of small meetings represents a prime opportunity for hotel companies and others within the meetings and events industry. Our research has actually shown that small meetings can represent 70 percent or more of the global market, making them a revenue stream we are definitely paying attention to. The impact that smaller meetings is having on the industry’s revenue across the board is absolutely a positive one. It’s a trend we are noticing and benefiting from.
Every industry and sector has “small” meetings. Bringing smaller groups together definitely facilitates action, making it easier to reach consensus to move an idea or action forward. In addition, aspects of training can be more effective with smaller groups allowing attendees a more personalized experience when learning a new craft, skill or product. Meetings provide adult learning experiences much the same way the college classroom does, and sometimes the smaller classes prove more beneficial depending on both the objective of the training and the knowledge of your attendee and their optimal way of learning.
To determine the best size for a meeting, groups should start with the objectives they are hoping to accomplish, and then take a look at who the right people to have in the room are to make those objectives happen.