by Sarah J.F. Braley | April 20, 2016

The first phase of the International Association of Conference Centres' research project, the "Meeting Room of the Future," has been completed, with results announced at the organization's annual meeting held this week in New York City. A survey of 150 meeting planners, conducted in collaboration with Meeting Professionals International, asked participants what their challenges are and what they want to see from a venue.  

Among the findings, 75 percent of respondents said their current roles involve more "experience creation" than it did two to five years ago. More than 77 percent said that access to interactive technologies, such as audience participation tools and collaborative communication platforms, are more important now, and 47 percent said flexible meeting space is more important now.

IACC's report shows that certain physical elements of the meeting room that are critical for a successful event have largely remained and will remain constant, such as high-quality broadband, strong acoustics and good lighting. However, when asked how strongly they agree with the statement, "Access to collaborative meeting space will become more important in the next two to five years," respondees agreed to the tune of an average 8 on a scale of 10, indicating the need for more creative, less traditional options.

The study also showed an increasing percentage of meeting planners' budgets are going to newer technologies such as event apps, beacon technology to track traffic and attendance, and video conferencing capabilities.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded from the IACC website here.

A second survey will be sent to the suppliers, and a third to venue operators. Stage-two results will be announced at the end of May. When the third is completed, all results will be compiled, analyzed and then announced at the IACC-Europe Annual Conference in Eindhoven, Netherlands, in September.  

The project aims to predict a clear vision of what is new for today and what solutions need to be sought for tomorrow's meeting rooms. "As the only global association representing smaller meeting and conference venues, IACC is singularly positioned to spearhead this initiative," said Mark Cooper, CEO of the association.

The two other surveys will be conducted this year, created with the help of industry observers such as tech expert Corbin Ball and Diane Devitt of the DND Group, who is an assistant professor at New York University's Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management. Other partners in the project include MPI, Microsoft, Development Councilors International, Showgizmo, Sli-do, Warwick Conferences, MGSM Executive Hotel & Conference Centre and PSAV. IACC's vision is to conduct the surveys every year, making it a continual initiative. 

IACC also announced a rebranding at the annual event, complete with a new tagline: "Exceptional meetings. Powerful connections." Alex Cabañas, president and CEO of Benchmark Hospitality and current global president of the IACC board, told attendees at the meeting, "IACC is rebranding, honoring past and creating future. IACC needs to revive the relevance and sexiness of conference centers. IACC is focused on the small meeting and always will be."