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 In Events, Experiences

The Future of Meetings & Events: 5 Key Trends for 2024

Alison de Groot, Senior Event Lead Elmhirst’s Resort

The global business landscape is undergoing a profound transformation. The way we live, work, and interact has been reshaped in the last few years, and the ripple effects of these changes, according to Sophie Hulgard, chief sales officer for Accor Hospitality Group, create opportunities in the meetings and events industry.

Travel and in-person meetings and events are back. This theme echoed around the world in 2023. Today, significant changes are occurring in the meetings and events industry and how we live, work, and spend our time.

A recent report from Accor– Meeting Expectations: The Future of Meetings and Events (published in October 2023 in association with Globetrender, the UK’s leading travel trend forecasting agency) – explored the forces shaping this sector and the strategies essential for success in the coming years.

Sustainability has become a guiding principle for the meetings and events industry. A growing awareness of the environmental impact has spurred innovation in event planning and execution. From eco-friendly venues to zero-waste catering, the commitment to minimizing the carbon footprint is reshaping the way meetings and events are hosted, says Hulgard.

At Elmhirst’s Resort, located just outside Peterborough, Ontario, and less than two hours from Toronto, owner and General Manager Greg Elmhirst and his team have been investing heavily in the sustainability of this cottage-based resort venue for years. The resort recently achieved Platinum Certification from Sustainable Tourism 2030 through a rigorous evaluation.

Balance has become the central element in business and travel decisions, as it now serves as the defining catalyst for our work-life choices. Today’s world must increasingly seek a balance between time, productivity, well-being, cost, carbon, and commerce, adds Hulgard.

Elmhirst agrees, and the result is a waterfront resort venue that focuses on sustainable operations, farm-to-table catering menus featuring Angus beef, turkeys, and ducks from the Resort’s 240-acre farm, a wellness spa, yoga programming, and outdoor-based team-building experiences.

 Elmhirst echoes the trends identified in Accor’s recent report and has positioned the venue and his team to meet these challenges for today’s meeting planners.

Here are the five key trends for 2024 identified by Accor:

  1. Softer Productivity

“Work hard, play hard” is giving way to a growing focus on well-being, flexibility, nutrition, and time management to create a balance between life and productivity. At Elmhirst, experiences are curated around participants’ nourishment and wellness, including the downtime agenda.

“Wellness, sustainable locally sourced healthy dining, engaging indoor and outdoor programming options all work to ensure meetings and events at Elmhirst’s Resort are delivering long-lasting, meaningful experiences for our clients and guests.” – Greg Elmhirst, General Manager Elmhirst’s Resort

  1. Selling Belonging

Despite the rise of digital, human connections are still essential for business. Digital is powerful; face-to-face is valuable. In the coming years, planners will see an increasing number of planners move beyond the idea that events are simply about getting people into a room together. Instead, planners will consider how to forge deeper connections between attendees, cement relationships, and encourage repeat bookings. Along with quantifiable ROI (return on investment), companies also seek positive ROX (return on experience) to reinforce a sense of belonging and deliver a valuable experience.

“Our waterfront cottage-based accommodation offers a unique opportunity for meaningful connection for conference attendees.  In today’s era of remote and online-based work, it is more important than ever to make in-person experiences matter.  Our relaxed, natural setting creates space for focus and engagement; it’s rewarding for both companies and individuals.” – Greg Elmhirst, General Manager of Elmhirst’s Resort

  1. Designing Experiences

The very definition of an event is being rethought in terms of structure, content and venue. By creating experiences rather than simply providing meeting rooms, event venues can help embed ideas, memories and different ways of thinking.

 “The MeetingsIncentivesConferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) customer of tomorrow is looking for an experience-led but also purpose-driven brand, a brand that cares about the needs of the individual and the community.” –  Kishan Chandnani, Global SVP Premium Brands.

  1. Green Gatherings

Sustainability is now at the heart of meetings and events, strongly focusing on reducing carbon emissions and waste. Beyond emissions, sustainability also increasingly involves meaningful engagement with local communities and fostering environmentally friendly conversations – whether by recommending local transport or raising awareness of local culture and ecosystems. 

“We are the fifth generation of Elmhirsts to operate the farm, and we are thankful for what has been passed down to us. For the deep roots of tradition, it has provided and for the connection to the place and community that has been entrusted to our care. Throughout the resort and farm, we have implemented many initiatives to support the tenets of sustainability.”Greg Elmhirst, General Manager of Elmhirst’s Resort.

  1. Disruptive Technology

As AI leaps forward, it has the potential to transform the meetings and events sector through its capacity to instantly crunch data—for example, finding the best date by analyzing participants’ availability, identifying great speakers, and even writing invites and content. How can we use data to offer unique, immersive, interactive experiences? If used wisely, AI undeniably holds great value in providing possibilities for next-gen meetings and event planners.

The key takeaways for meeting and event planners in 2024 based on Accor’s report:

Sustainability should be the first thought, not the afterthought.

Celebrate the human connection.

Create memorable experiences that forge meaningful connections.

Balance purpose and productivity.

Digital has reach. Face-to-face has value. Being in the room matters.

WE’RE IN THE MEETING BUSINESS

Our conference rooms, dining areas and relaxed waterfront setting offer an ideal backdrop for any meeting or occasion.

See more of our meeting and event options here.

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