A Glance at the Meeting Room of the Future Study 2024

June 13, 2024
Man pointing at post-it notes

The latest edition of the Meeting Room of the Future, a research study conducted by DCI in partnership with the International Association of Conference Centers (IACC), provides first-hand insight from meeting venues as they deal with new client priorities, technology and meeting goals and objectives. 

Now officially in a post-pandemic era, we’re seeing many changes that are here to stay.

1. Client goals for meetings are shifting and adaptability is key.

In the digital and hybrid world, meeting attendees are prioritizing face time with their team members and building interpersonal connections when they have opportunities to come together in person. Professional development is still a key aspect of meetings and events. Many venues, however, report that their clients ultimately want to see increased connections more than they want to build knowledge. 

Breakout rooms and smaller intimate spaces for informal gatherings are becoming more important. Most respondents reported that breakout rooms are being used more today than they were three years ago. As client priorities shift away from learning and towards connections, having plentiful informal spaces to gather, communicate and collaborate becomes the new norm.

2. Generational differences are more prominent.  

Twice as many venues in 2024 compared to 2020 had a workforce made up of over 75% of individuals classified as Millennial or Gen Z. As the younger generations age into a majority of the workforce as venue workers or meeting attendees, nuances specific to their generations are becoming more important.  

Notably, venue operators report that attention spans have declined among younger attendees. Venues have successfully addressed this by breaking up a day of meetings with shorter sessions and more frequent breaks. Additionally, scheduling time for attendees to emotionally refresh with personal breaks is also seen as critical.

3. Flexible furniture and room layouts are becoming a requirement.

As venues seek to provide more dynamic schedules and meetings, flexible furniture is becoming an essential tool. Furniture that is re-arrangeable, like modular sofas or expanding tables, and furniture that is on wheels and lightweight allows a venue to quickly turn a ballroom for a keynote speaker into a series of pods for collaboration.  

Teams can break out by moving tables while staying in the same room. Newcomers joining a conversation can pull up a comfortable chair without disrupting the group. Venues with more static configurations have an opportunity here to innovate and develop new possibilities to meet these needs.

4. Sustainability is more imperative now than ever.

Single-use plastics and food waste have long been issues within the hospitality industry. As business events grow, concerns about the effects of climate change deepen, trickling into all aspects of planning.  

Venues continuously seek to limit their food waste and reliance on single-use plastics. According to the study, 83% of venues in 2024 have a formal plan to reduce food waste, and 32% donate unused food to local community outreach programs, compared to only 23% in 2020. Destinations must continue to encourage widespread sustainable practices across meeting spaces.

5. Consumer behaviors are a moving target.

Dietary preferences and restrictions are a growing logistical challenge for venues. Many venues identified key challenges in this category, including the delayed reporting of dietary needs and preferences. Additionally, they find it increasingly difficult to accommodate preferences rather than  true dietary restrictions 

Ensuring food quality and timeliness becomes much more challenging when accommodating food preferences at scale. 

Almost half (44%) of venues reported lower alcohol consumption at their events. Bar inventory and staffing are costly, and lowered consumption can be challenging for venues. However, industry leaders are pivoting by developing non-alcoholic adult-beverage menus to offset those costs and provide a similar experience for those who do not wish to consume alcohol. 

Download a copy of Meeting Room of the Future for more insights. 

To learn more about adapting to trends and expectations of meeting planners, get in touch with Pamela Laite at [email protected] to learn more about how DCI’s business events team can guide your destination’s marketing efforts.

Written by

Robyn Domber

Senior Vice President, Research