2021 is Here: What Meeting Trends Can We Expect to See?

(4 min read)
Staying abreast of shifting trends in the meeting and event industry can feel like chasing a moving target. This quick summary brings together the most prevalent predictions and recommendations in one place so you can hit the mark every time.

Create Hybrid Events

The Zoom fatigue created in 2020 cemented the effects of social isolation. Your folks are hungrier than ever before for human connection. Event planners are increasing value and distinction by integrating virtual with on-site programs. The technical learning curve of the past year lends itself well to streaming video and content-on-demand to online registrants while focusing on engagement from the stage and the attendee tables. Some associations will continue using Zoom while those with bigger budgets will level up their production, technology, and platforms. The integrated format also accommodates the new normal of virtual learning for those that don’t want to travel to live events for cost, time, or safety reasons.

Promote Safety

While waiting with baited breath for vaccines and the pandemic to subside, attendees need to feel safe if they are going to register for your event. Your organization will stand out if you have a plan for enforcing masks, social distancing, sanitizing, communication, and testing.

Emphasize Well-Being

The rates of depression, anxiety, and burnout are on the rise.  Although prevention is the best way to stay healthy, there's also a lot of “medical distancing” going on during the pandemic. In short, people are distancing themselves from doctor visits, checkups, and procedures they actually need. The interest and need for good well-being programs have never been higher.

Offer immersive Experiences

Attendees want more meaningful connections, content, and entertainment. Associations will build value and ROI through member dialogue. Active listening will result in more targeted programs, dynamic speakers, and ongoing community building on-site and line for all stakeholders — attendees, sponsors, and speakers. It's also important to remember to continue to leverage social media and technology to offer inclusive experiences. Some examples include an application that recommends sessions for attendees based on the sessions they've already attended, an opportunity to take social media photos and hashtag the event, and interactive polls throughout sessions.

Be intentional about diversity and inclusion

Your commitment to diversity and inclusion should be evident throughout all aspects of the meeting or event:

  • panels should be comprised of speakers with diverse backgrounds
  • all experiences should be available to those with disabilities and limitations
  • food options should celebrate diversity and include meat-free dishes
  • commitment to diversity and inclusion should be spelled out in conference materials

When it comes to venue, think outside the box

Meetings and events have been hosted by hotels since the beginning of time, which is a good indication that it's time for change. Explore unique venues with participant comfort and engagement in mind. Natural light, comfortable seating, and great design can take your meeting or event to the next level.

Bring work-life balance into the agenda

Work-life balance might be a buzz word, but the statistics don't lie: millennials will soon comprise 75% of the workforce and millennials are looking for work-life balance. The desire to find balance doesn't end when employees attend a meeting or conference, so looking for ways to build rest, socialization, fresh air, and self care into the agenda will show a high ROI. Some components to consider that might create the desired balance include:

  • a 15-minute guided breathing exercise mid-day
  • an early morning group walk for those who are interested
  • flexible scheduling, where attendees can come early and leave early or start their day later and leave later
  • opportunities for socialization
  • on-site drop-in childcare
  • clean, private areas for expressing breast milk
  • private, fully-equipped workstations for those who need to step away for their work responsibilities

Be thoughtful about speakers

The single most impactful barrier to event attendance is often the agenda. If you invite HR professionals, for example, and schedule keynotes and breakouts on diversity, ADA compliance, FMLA management, and how to address the need for gender-binary restrooms, those invited have heard it all before. And although this is the most common-sense recommendation on the list, most industries miss the mark every single time. It's critical that you think outside the box to provide new information or a new perspective on old information and make it worth the investment for attendees.

For a fresh perspective that your attendees haven't heard before, engage Scott Foster of Wellco for your next meeting or event.

ABOUT

Scott Foster is CEO of Wellco. Scott is a frequently-invited expert and speaker regarding wellness, engagement, & leadership.  Wellco provides award-winning solutions to measurably improve health engagement and outcomes. For more information, contact Wellco. 

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Scott was the closing speaker at the NBCH Annual Conference. His presentation exceeded all expectations with his interactive, engaging and knowledgeable style. I would highly recommend him for both large and small meetings/conferences.

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Looking for a great keynote? Scott Foster is a fascinating speaker who knows how to connect with an audience. He peppers his talk with personal stories and tailors his presentation to the needs of your group. Expect comments like "most valuable session," great job presenting all sides to the issues" and "loved his presentation style". I highly recommend him!

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