Spending on corporate meetings and conferences has increased over the past few years, allowing companies to design meetings that generate more productive, impactful outcomes for attendees. As the number of participants increased, so has direct spending for both companies and participants. This means that not only are more meetings and conferences being held—but they are being attended by more people! So how does one create more impactful and creative experiences to cater to the growing audience?
It is no secret that with an increase in millennials planning and attending meetings, there is an expectation for planners to create shareable experiences. Audiences are making a clear statement: “We want more!” The traditional ‘good experience’ is no longer good enough. Both meeting and event attendees want to leave inspired. They want to share experiences with audiences on Instagram, they want to be able to connect with fellow attendees, and they want to feel like they have immersed themselves into the overall experience of the event. So the question remains, how to do you create shareable experiences? Meeting and event planners alike are essentially competing directly with experiences their target audiences create and share every day online. Those same people who were once content attendees to your meetings are now arriving wanting…no, expecting more than the status quo. How can you make sure that you can deliver?
Of course, you want to respond to the growing demand with more substance and authenticity with your events. Creating a program that encourages active participation and active experiences bolsters learning and networking. Design and furnishings also can play a key role in creating experiences. Leveraging principles of design can help planners transition from run-of-the-mill meetings to immersive, impactful experiences.
Generic ‘theater’ seating for meetings are a thing of the past. Collaborative culture is in. Create spaces that not only delight the senses but create a collaborative team environment conducive to learning, networking, and brainstorming. Experiment with different seating arrangements such as pod seating or mixing lounge seating to make your space feel comfortable and inviting. Create pods using Hexagon Ottomans or Island Double Sofas that encourage groups to sit and exchange ideas. Smart space planning, comfortable seating, functional furniture, accent décor and color themes all contribute to an overall immersive experience.
When designing a space, make sure you plan your furnishings in a way that allows for easy movement and flexibility. Consider using round seating such as pieces from the CORT Endless Collection that will allow for constant flow around the furnishings. Bar table groupings are also a great way for small groups to gather and work together on a project. Planners should also consider incorporating non-traditional seating around café tables such as Marche Ottomans to incorporate color and functional swivel seats. Introduce textured seating and different colors of seating to keep the ambiance exciting for attendees. Wagner Chairs and Vibe Cubes are a great way to add texture and color to a space while still maintaining comfort and style.
Staying connected and charged is a hot button item for audiences. The importance of not only being connected to our devices but to also maintaining accessibility to charging capabilities cannot be stressed enough in the current business environment. When attendees rush to find seating by wall outlets to charge their phones or other electronics, it is disruptive to the overall experience. Instead, incorporate powered seating into your meeting designs. CORT’s new Tech Tablet Chair not only offers comfortable soft seating, but also a swivel table, built in charging panel with USB ports, and an under-seat shelf for purses or bags! Introduce a variety of powered furniture to your meeting space to create communal workspaces that foster a team environment and encourage collaborative strategic planning.
Creating breakout sessions? Think casual set ups with comfortable seating. Comfortable soft seating will not only keep your participants comfortable, but also encourage them to participate. Define breakout areas with Miramar Dividers or Boxwood Hedges to allow for private meeting spaces for intimate sessions conducive to thoughtful collaboration.
Experiential design is at the top of everyone’s mind. Planners constantly must evolve meetings and rethink how they develop, design, and deliver events and experiences that will leave an impact on attendees. Make your meetings and events more effective by thinking outside of the box with design. By doing so, you can create meetings that inspire and uplift attendees. Strategic design helps ensure memorable breakout sessions for your guests. Chances are, if they remember the meeting, they will remember the content.