Key Trends in the Conference Industry: Venues & The Environment
The usage of meeting facilities in hotels has gradually been increasing, at the expense of the purpose-built venue spaces, with unique venues popularity remaining steady in comparison.
There has always been demand within the industry for unique venue spaces but with the move now towards a more experiential event as attendees want to be immersed, this has been predicted to increase. This will allow buyers to create a more talked about event, something attendees can share on social media and effectively promote attendance of the next event. Choosing a unique venue is another way to stand out from the crowd in such a competitive market place.
For suppliers that run unique venues it will mean increased business and opportunities to diversify from their usual business model. However, if the venues are not used to providing such events the conference market demands it will see them running into logistic issues, for the venue to be a success they will need to ensure a strong team are in place to adapt to the changing demands of buyers and provide the high level of service they require.
There has been a recent trend of corporate companies choosing venues which fit their brand, as they are keen to provide a consistent message to employees and the public and this looks set to continue. A traditional hotel or conference venue may no longer have the impact on the brand a company would like. With the diversity of venues now available it will continue to be a buyer’s market as if anything competition is likely to increase to coincide with the rising number of meetings taking place. All types of venues will need to regularly maintain their facilities to provide the fast-changing technology and demands buyers will have.
Across the globe it is an undisputed topic that a move towards a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way of living needs to be adopted. Many governments like the UK are introducing new legislation and regulations for both corporate industry and the public to follow. The global climate change issues along with the rising cost of energy has led to it being at the forefront of event literature and important for conference buyers and suppliers to consider.
The International Standard ISO 20121, is the industry standard on Event Sustainability Management and is in place to help event companies and venues become more sustainable. However, these policies differ by country and continent as there is no enforcement. With the growing popularity of sustainable practises, we are likely to see this change as buyers start to demand carbon neutral schemes, so more suppliers take it onboard. The industry standards are becoming increasingly relevant although not legally enforced as competition for business becomes tighter it will be the suppliers with industry accreditation’s and evidence of their practises that will win the business. Environmental labels such as Ecolabels is the formal method of coding these standards and a way to identify the businesses living up to the standards.
Conference facilities are starting to adopt a long-term view and want to build on their corporate responsibility to gain repeat business from buyers. We will see more ‘Green’ Conference facilities being built, the EICC is a prime example of the future of the purpose-built conference venue with the environment being part of its values. As well as the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, the first of its kind to win a 6-star green rating in Australia. The biggest impact the conference industry holds on the environment is its carbon emissions particularly from air travel, as delegates can travel across countries to attend events & the impact on host communities. With increasing air travel costs, and the growing technology trends of live streaming and Virtual reality this could be reduced in the future by delegates not having to travel to attend the conference, although the carbon emission from electricity use will also need to move towards renewable energy to have a genuine effect. It could also see the continual rise of regional circulation of conference selection rather than globally, so buyers are seen to be choosing venues that can minimalise carbon emissions from travel.
Given the nature of meetings and conferences often demonstrating the brands reputation it is likely the importance of sustainable practises will continue to rise. Although with all future changes to the event & conference industry, cost will be the deciding factor about whether a trend will be implemented across the industry. Events Industry Council recent survey found 75% of organisations will require sustainable practises to be cost saving or cost neutral for them to consider implementing them.
The conference industry is set to undergo a lot of changes in the foreseeable future and beyond. The way we see the importance of security and safety at events has already began to change with these new tighter regulations set to filter down throughout the industry. The rapidly innovation technology being released constantly will be a major part of the conference market, with the potential to completely change all aspects of the industry from planning to data collection. It could also see a new way of putting on conferences with the rise of unique venues to add to the ‘experience’ & increasing competition between venue suppliers as more will be available to bid for events. To help venues stand out in the increasing competition they will need to take on industry accreditation’s especially in areas of sustainability and ‘greening’. As well as identifying areas they can become carbon neutral whilst being cost effective as budgets become tighter for the majority of organisers.