APR 2018

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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Page 12 of 67

A P R I L 2 0 1 8 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 13 It's a fact: the corporate meetings sector is changing along with the rest of the world. Topics such as security, sustainability and technology have moved to the forefront of society and the corporate meetings world has transformed dramatically with the times. Interactive meetings, a focus on going green and planning a secure event are just some of the elements that are trending right now, trends that are leading the transformation of ordinary meetings into extraordinary experiences. CORPORATE MEETINGS According to the Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT) 2018 Meetings & Events Future Trends report, "Organizers should consider more precise planning of the agenda and space, a better understanding of the culture and wellness needs of the attendees, and additional customization" in order to provide the most engaging event possible. Take a look at the top five corporate meeting trends that are the leading edge of engaging events, positioning planners and attendees as corporate event rock stars. The Experiential Experience "The key to experiential is making the attendee feel like you have truly thought about and care about their personal experience," said Hillary Smith, CMP, CSEP and partner at Koncept Events headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "Experiential experiences make the attendee feel like more than a number. They feel special because certain aspects of the conference are specifically tailored to them. The attendee will then associate your brand and your conference with a positive feeling that will last longer than a traditional event experience. Suddenly, you've created all of these brand ambassadors with a stronger bond to your event and message who can—and want—to help share your story. Done well, the ROI for companies who are starting to embrace this trend is incredible." When it comes to creating those experiential components, Smith emphasized tailoring the event to elevate the attendee experience. "Gifting is a typical component of any client conference, incentive or sales meeting," she said. "It used to be that guests were all given the same item or gift bag. Those days are pretty much gone. Now, planners are crafting pop-up shop experiences for guests to choose from a selection of options that have been chosen, whether that is from local brands or a recognizable name such as Tommy Bahamas with a wide range of products (e.g., home décor, scarves, shoes, sunglasses and apparel). The other option is personalization of a gift such as monogramming and/ or onsite stamping of jewelry." Photo booths are interactive and fun for attendees but, Smith said, "We see a lot of engagement opportunities at evening functions that go beyond the photo booth. Some of our clients are incorporating gamification (virtual on app and in person) and VR (virtual reality) in order to stimulate their attendees but also to get them to interact. We've set up PlayStation lounges within meal breaks and VR stations at expos as well as silent DJ headphones at after-parties or in meditation and yoga/wellness rooms." During a corporate event for a financial company at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Fla., this past November, Koncept Events created a Bro Beer Garden. "While the event was indoors, the look created a feeling of a trendy backyard where you'd hang out with friends on a Friday night," Smith said. "Cafe string lights and Edison lights created a warm, intimate vibe within a large ballroom, and mixed seating of picnic, communal and hotel tables allowed small or large groups to congregate. Of course, yard games were a draw as well. One of the event's highlights, though, was a wooden tap wall bar of locally crafted beers. It was great because not only was it a local experience for the attendees, it 'tapped' into a current consumer who loves hanging out at the brewery and trying the varieties. It also helped the attendee experience, having something locally loved in Florida right within the ballroom of the hotel. Food and beverage is actually a great opportunity to take something from typical to experiential and typically very affordable for the client, so this event also featured a 'Get Twisted' custom pretzel bar." The Foodie Focus Experiential elements, as Smith pointed out, often incorporate extraordinary food and beverage adventures into the mix as a focus on sumptuous cuisine and luscious libations has now become widespread in the meetings sector. According to the CWT trends report, "there is actually a move away from providing snacks ► 1 2 Bro Beer Garden, by Koncept Events Shelby Soblick

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