Marriott meeting trends forecast: Wearables, ‘wholeness’

What are the trends shaping the future of meetings in 2016? Marriott International and the Professional Convention Management Association partnered on an initiative that brought together experts in fields like data science, media, architecture and the sharing economy to find out.

Discussions centered around the initiative, called Meetings Imagined, produced five predictions on the future of meetings and events that experts at PCMA and Marriott say will “push meetings into new frontiers” in the next three to five years.

“In 2015 the majority of both meeting professionals and meeting venues reported growing attendance and revenues. While we are excited about these strong results, we also need to remain focused on our industry’s future,” said PCMA President and CEO Deborah Sexton. “Together, PCMA and Marriott International identified both the trends on the horizon and the actions we need to explore to prepare our constituents to leverage these trends.”

Meetings Imagined predicted the rise of five trends:

Sensory analytics: Advancements in data analytics, as well as cheaper and smaller physical sensors, are simplifying the ability to collect data about physical experiences, analyze the inputs and make adjustments in real time. The group believes that the execution of meetings and events will evolve to allow for minute-to-minute adjustments, driving greater impact, engagement and effectiveness. Luca Ranaldi, COO of Breather and sharing economy expert: “The amount of data and the quality of the technologies that allow us to collect precise data is what is going to enable the industry to keep pushing on personalization and succeed.” 

Tribalization: Consumers are moving toward “tribal” communities of likeminded individuals who can push each other to a higher level. The group expects the planning, execution and measurement of meetings will adapt in a way that fosters smaller group connections to heighten the overall experience. Matthew Von Ertfelda, vice president and team lead of Marriott’s Insight, Strategy and Innovation Team: “Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow access and exposure to vast areas of interest, and I think there’s more comfort now in how that translates into physical gatherings and communities.” 

“Content safaris”: Consumers expect content to be curated and in their control. Meeting planners may need to restructure content or manipulate a room’s physical set-up at a moment’s notice to adapt to real time participant feedback. Achieving this will create a sense of ownership and self-discovery for attendees. Sherrif Karamat, COO of PCMA: “I want to personalize my experience, and I don’t want the organizers to determine my experience for me. Instead, I want them to create a platform where I can personalize my experience.”

From wellness to wholeness: There is a radical shift in the definition of wellness to now include physical, emotional, spiritual and social dimensions. With diet and exercise options now expected, the group believes the meetings industry will have to raise the bar and offer unique ways for attendees to achieve the more holistic wellness, or wholeness, they desire. The industry has an opportunity to address meeting-goers’ existing routines and behaviors, changing the sentiment that travel and meetings are “cheat days.”

Telepresence: Immersive telepresence offers a heightened emotional and physical experience that could disrupt the meetings business and other forms of content-sharing. The group believes the meetings industry will find ways to work with new formats that seamlessly convey content and ideas with similar, if not stronger, storytelling than in-person presentations and gatherings. As the definition of attendee, speaker, and location broadens to include those participating remotely through immersive telepresence, planners will need to craft coordinated and cohesive experiences that appeal to both in-person and virtual participants.