Sustainability a top priority for meeting planners

Ethical operations and sustainable practices will be one of the most important areas of focus for venues by 2024 according to IACC’s annual Meeting Room of the Future report 2019.

Released at MPI’s World Education Congress, the report showed 44 per cent of respondents believe that ethical operations and sustainable practices will be one of the most important elements for venues by the year 2024.

When asked about the biggest frustration in food and beverage offerings, a major concern raised by meeting planners was the amount of food waste that meetings and events generate and how it is disposed of, with 62 per cent of respondents said that they will look at how a venue manages its food waste before booking.

Cyber security is also a key topic for meeting planners, with 27 per cent of respondents stating that cyber security will become a greater priority in the next three to five years, and 76 per cent reporting that they are concerned about cyber security when implementing new technologies into their events.

The report also revealed a dramatic increase (up 8 per cent from 2017 to 85 per cent in 2019) in the number of meetings which are integrating new technology, such as audience participation apps, projection mapping and screen-sharing.

The report also points to the fact that the recent focus on experience creation has continued to grow. Since 2017 the number of meeting planners now responsible for creating memorable meeting experiences has grown 10 percentage points to 85 per cent.

The rise in demand for experience-led meetings is being attributed to an influx of new generations both attending events and also planning them and in turn becoming a driving force for change to meeting formats, breakout sessions and teambuilding activities.

Dietary requirements have remained the number one priority in food and beverage for meeting planners in 2019. Of those surveyed, 88 per cent had full confidence that their venues of choice will accommodate special requests in advance of a meeting or event.

However, some believe more can be done by venues when it comes to ensuring serving staff are briefed on ingredients and potential allergens, labelling all ingredients for buffet spreads but also creating more exciting dishes for those who have dietary requirements.

“This year’s report reveals some interesting new trends and shows that trends that have emerged in recent years are continuing to grow,” said Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC.

“We are seeing more critical analysis of venues and practices before booking events and, especially, a real focus on sustainability and ethical operations. These are areas we expect to continue to develop over the coming years. I am interested to see how venues and companies address the concerns of meeting planners over the next year and what changes we will see in the 2020 report.”