Top 10 Trends For Meetings, Incentives & Events

Pacific World, one of the world’s leading global destination and event management companies, in collaboration with Access Destination Services has announced its 2017 Annual Destination Index. The Destination Index provides insight on the top industry trends for both clients and meetings and events professionals. In addition to the types of meetings and destinations groups are seeking, the index features details on what attendees are considering most meaningful.

Top 10 Trends:

1. Take Me Off the Beaten Track.

Second-tier and uprising destinations are becoming more popular event destinations, such as small villages in Tuscany, or Lyon and Champagne as opposed to Paris.

“We have seen interest for different destinations besides Beijing and Shanghai. We have been actively promoting Chengdu, Lijiang and Guilin and are currently working on new incentives products and programs. More than 30 new air routes are planned to launch from America and Europe to second tier cities, which will surely bring new visitors to unspoiled locations in China”.

Violet Wang – Destination Manager Shanghai

“Smaller meetings (up to 100 participants) and incentives have been asking for lesser known destinations, such as small villages/resorts in Tuscany or less commercial locations as Taormina. But for congresses and important corporate events, Rome and Milan remain the first choice destinations”.

Emanuele Pinna – Destination Manager Italy

 “More and more clients are requesting Thessaloniki for their conferences or incentive programs. For the Cyclades region, the requests for the small islands of Paros have increased”.

Simone Kohl – Groups and MICE Supervisor Greece

 “Unusual and unexpected is cool today. We have been promoting locations beyond the bounds of Paris, such as unique experiences in Lyon and Champagne”.

Evelyne Mancini – Country Manager Monaco, France & Italy

2. Giving Back to the Destination, Engaging Local Communities.

The meetings industry has seen an increase in Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives focusing on local communities, such as “Making a Balinese Barong,” where attendees work with villages in Indonesia to create a local craft.

“Immersive experiences where guests interact with locals and culture in a different way are a must- During harvest period (September/October)our “Cut, Jam and Taste” products give the opportunity to work and share with the villagers, learning the secrets of harvest and ham in a fun way”.

Emanuele Pinna – Destination Manager Italy

 “Bali offers plenty of options for charity and CSR experiences. This is one of the destinations secrets to be always in the top spot. “Making a Balinese Barong” is one of our client’s most cherished projects: villagers and guests create a Barong together (a giant doll made from wood, bamboo, cotton and other local materials)”.

I Wayan Sumadiyasa – Meeting & Incentive Manager Indonesia

 “We offer team builds that become true shared experiences. Philadelphia is home to the Mural Arts Philadelphia Program™, the nation’s largest public art program dedicated to the belief that art ignites change. Some of our most memorable team building experiences have included client’s participating in actual mural-making with guidance from artists and members of the Mural Arts team.”.

Maria DiBenedetto – President & Partner, Philadelphia

 3. Events with a Purpose, Incentives with a Meaning.

It’s All About Design. A strategic approach, more and more groups are requesting a return on engagement in addition to investment, creating an impact and everlasting memory.
“Events and incentives are becoming more strategic. Clients are requiring more and more elements of the meeting or incentive to be aligned with the theme (Mamma Mia or Ancient Greek) along with the company vision. Our aim is to design a unique program according to specific goals”.

Simone Kohl – Groups and MICE Supervisor Greece

 “Teambuilding activities now flow into the evening events and have a similar theme or some kind of connection, so that it feels like one continuous event”.

Jeff Nelke – Partner, South Florida

Sharing experiences is a vital part of every program. Slick WIFI access to keep

4. Sharing Memories with the World.

Creating engaging experiences is as important as providing high-speed Wi-Fi access and designated creative hashtags for social media engagement.
“Many companies are rolling out hashtags for their incentive trips and encouraging people to take photos and use their hashtags”.

Candace Bisconte – Partner, Orange County

5. Keeping It Small and Unique; Profiling and Tailoring.

Creating an event based on specific interests and group profiles is increasing in popularity. Personalization is key to guarantee group engagement. For instance, an ultra-high-end experience featuring unique and creative types of transportation works particularly well for small VIP groups, while design inspired workshops with world famous athletes or musicians match well for young audiences.

“High-end experiences are back! VIP transfers from the airport to the resort in helicopters and excursions with luxury yachts to the small islands around areas such as Spetses and Hydra Islands is an example of the high-end products our clients want to experience”.

Simone Kohl – Groups and MICE Supervisor Greece

 “Activities linked with culture and gastronomy are on the rise again. When in Paris, clients want to experience the culture and the gastronomy from a different perspective. Attending this need, we have been working on unique experiences linked to human emotions to create an engagement between guests and the destinations, and among the meeting or incentive participants”.

Evelyne Mancini – Country Manager Monaco, France & Italy

6. Culture Vulture.

More than a trend, experiencing the culture of a destination makes an event truly exceptional and is now key to its success.
“It is not a trend, it is the core and key to a successful meeting or event. The conceptualization and all the matching elements, from small details on menus, to the entertainment and the entire look and feel of the space. “China Food Street” and “Peking Opera” have been successful themes during the recent months”.

Violet Wang – Destination Manager Shanghai

“Local experiences or traditional team buildings linked with the territory are still the most requested. Paparazzi game (participants become real reporters going around the city) is still the most appreciated activity for us”.

Emanuele Pinna – Destination Manager Italy

“The powerful and unique Greek culture is present in every program from the selection of the meeting for incentive theme, to the selection of the venue, the activities and even the food and beverage”.

Simone Kohl – Groups and MICE Supervisor Greece

“Local food and creative setup and deliveries are a must. One of our signature events in Bali combines a sacred temple and out of the ordinary service that involves local villagers. Traditional exquisite Balinese dishes are served following the Rajalaya Royal Service: A unique and special dining concept that was originally served only within the royal family in Bali”.

I Wayan Sumadiyasa – Meeting & Incentive Manager Indonesia

“When in Hong Kong, client’s love to play games that involve the locals, such as learning a few words of the local language or bargaining with shop owners”.

Sharon Goi – Destination Manager Hong Kong

7. Catering – Farm to Table, Organic, Healthy and Wholeness.

In line with general food and beverage trends, groups are looking for healthy food elements, local and nutritious cuisine, farm-to-table options and special dietary requirements.
“Healthy food elements (fruit and juices instead of coffee & tea with cakes) and Tai Chi sessions are required to bring wholeness to individual participants”.

Violet Wang – Destination Manager Shanghai

“Local food and traditional gastronomy with healthy considerations, plus a creative set up are still in vogue for Italy”.

Emanuele Pinna – Destination Manager Italy

“Local flair and farm-to-table is common in the requests and events. Clients still ask for creative set ups and food trucks, unique and branded are in!”

Jeff Nelke – Partner, South Florida

“Special dietary requirements are at an all-time high, however the trend for some clients is being proactive in addressing the popular ones – featuring more than one vegetarian option, considering vegan options and touting local, farm-to-table menu items whenever it makes sense”.

Maria DiBenedetto – President & Partner, Philadelphia

8. Sharing, Networking — Less Formal and More Dynamic.

Meeting and event planners are putting an emphasis on sharing and networking, whether with locals, colleagues, conference speakers or industry peers. Engaging reception-style dinners opposed to seated dinners are on the rise and interactive experiences where attendees and guests have the chance to learn and experience the destination from different perspectives are trendy.
“We are also seeing less seated dinner experiences and more interest in reception-style dinners that encourage networking, organic flow and feature creative small plates and versus traditional 3 and 4-course plated menus”.

Maria DiBenedetto – President & Partner, Philadelphia

9. Mobile Applications.

The Tool for Meetings, Incentives and Events. Mobile apps have become a must-use tool for planners and guests, not only during the events but also in the planning process.
“A very unique trend in Philadelphia is the creation and usage of a venue’s own, unique mobile app. A great example of this is the newly opened Logan Hotel in Philadelphia. This luxury property boasts over 500 pieces of eye-catching artwork by local Philadelphia artists. They’ve created a cutting-edge app to allow hotel guests to take their own mini tours within the property. They can explore the hotel and learn more about the pieces of artwork that really speak to them”.

Maria DiBenedetto – President & Partner, Philadelphia

“Snapchat, RINGYA (communication application which can be used internally or for client purposes to ID individual roles, communicate individually and group chats), and WhatsApp is also popular”.

Jeff Nelke – Partner, South Florida

 “Mobile apps are taking an important role also in the emergency plans we have designed for our client’s events. For a big event in France, an app was created for guests including emergency contacts & information. We are keen to repeat this initiative”.

Evelyne Mancini – Country Manager Monaco, France & Italy

10. The Role of Technology.

Incorporating technology such as drones in meetings and events are on the rise, although sometimes challenging to implement. Groups are still utilizing technology often, including live video streaming or geolocation games.

“With more and more China based technology companies immersing in the market, Tencent, Huawei, conference exclusive APP or digital push notices and market promotion is a must in China and especially Shanghai. Live streaming is not only helping the events’ interaction, but also enhances the individual guest experience. We recently incorporated a live streaming session by drone”.

Violet Wang – Destination Manager Shanghai

 “Most of the treasure hunt type team buildings now incorporate technology, including Google maps for location purposes, iPad’s for clues, or even QR codes for hints. As the cost of mobile data is affordable in Hong Kong, it has become a trend for clients who like to include a technology element”.

Sharon Goi, Destination Manager Hong Kong

In addition to the Annual Destination Index, Pacific World and Access Destination Services release a monthly Destination Index to provide special insights for clients and industry professionals. After tracking RFPs each month, a list of the top three trending destinations is released. Recent destinations include locations such as France, Croatia, South Africa, China, Hong Kong and Indonesia and domestic: South Florida, Colorado and New York.

Source: http://www.themeetingmagazines.com/, 17 February 2017

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