New Delhi, 12 December 2013: In line with the business boom in Asia, meeting planners expect the demand for meetings hosted within the region to grow by 6.6% in 2013 with more meetings being hosted in the emerging economies of Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines. According to International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA), India is 27th in the global meeting market.
India's huge population and increase in purchasing power are attracting businesses and more business visitors than ever before. MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) inbound arrivals accounted for over 4% of the total number of arrivals in 2012, and this proportion is expected to grow further in coming years.
The art of organising meetings is fast evolving to meet with the dynamic changes of the business landscape. Adapting to emerging trends and insights is crucial to introducing innovations in order to keep pace with the developments in the meetings and events space.
Crowne Meetings Directors, Crowne Plaza hotels' dedicated event planners, share five insights that they foresee driving the future of business travel and meeting trends.
1. The Changing Face of Meeting Spaces
Future meetings will be less structured, allowing for more time and free space for participants to brainstorm and network. Traditional boardroom walls are coming down and non-traditional venues are increasingly grabbing attention of meeting planners. The trend is changing and now meetings are taking place in outdoor spaces or in small and cozy nooks that create conducive settings to foster productivity, interaction and creativity.
According to Kirti Singh, Crowne Meetings Director at Crowne Plaza New Delhi Rohini, "There is a tremendous change in the meeting trends today and companies are now looking beyond traditional boardrooms. Most patrons prefer an outdoor seating arrangement as companies feel it helps in more participation. In recent years, we have organised meetings with a floor seating, on the terrace, by the pool, or even in a lounge. We offer a variety of opportunities to help clients stay active all through the meeting by incorporating activities such as games, group-walks or stretching at breaks - activities which encourage people to get up and move."
2. Making Virtual Connections
While live meetings are definitely here to stay, today's evolving business environment can harness the power of technology to extend the reach of any meeting to audiences who cannot physically attend the event. These hybrid meetings, a combination of face-to-face interaction and virtual connectivity, also serve as an effective forum for knowledge sharing across countries and time-zones.
According to Singh, "With improved infrastructural and enhanced technological standards in India, the demand for virtual conferences is on the rise. It is more of a necessity and the clients are comfortably using video conferencing facilities for not only imparting lectures but also engaging in live presentations. As virtual meetings continue to evolve, they are also are becoming more cost effective too."
3. Technology with a Human Touch
Meetings and events are now expected to empower guests to be more mobile tech-savvy than ever - with instant connectivity and real-time meeting updates. Meeting-dedicated Facebook pages, meeting apps on smartphones and easily accessible mobile sites have become essential elements of every meeting package. Also, free wireless connectivity is now not an option, but a necessity in every meeting.
Kirti agrees that there is a need for meeting spaces to keep pace with the latest technologies to meet the ever-changing demands of meetings but insists on the importance of human touch and personalised service. "High tech meeting spaces allow clients more independence but we'll always be on standby just around the corner so that support is readily available when it is needed."
4. The Need for Green
Amid a growing consciousness to eat healthy and care for the environment, people are preferring hotels that think and act green.
As meeting planners seek a variety of sustainable options to reduce the environmental impact of their event, Singh shares, "At Crowne Plaza, we implement an innovative programme called Green Engage, which is an advanced online system developed by IHG for its hotels to measure its impact on the environment from its day-to-day operations. We use Green Engage to be more aware of our waste levels and energy usage, so we can be empowered with the right information to make our practices more sustainable."
In terms of food and beverage offering, a healthy culinary trend in the meeting space continues, with the more health conscious demanding gluten-free, sustainable cuisine or an authentic dining experience with wholesome local cuisine. "We encourage healthy meal ideas that will energise meeting participants and help them stay active in the course of long and engaging meetings. We ensure that clients are competently served healthy meals that can strike a nutritious balance all day long."
5. Meetings Remain a People Business
In the face of changing demands and evolving trends in the meetings industry, one thing will remain constant-meetings are, and always will be, about people. It is important for event planners to understand exactly what client wants and doing all it takes to make it happen.
As Singh explains, "Planning a successful meeting or conference relies on three main factors: the right meeting room space, appropriate technology and an environment that allows one to focus, while also offering opportunities to relax. A good meeting planner is able to take all a client's requirements and tailor their event to their needs. No meeting is ever the same so having flexible venues and the most modern technology available means we are able to deliver all three of these factors."
About IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group)
IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) [LON:IHG, NYSE:IHG (ADRs)] is a global organisation with a broad portfolio of nine hotel brands, including InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo® Hotels, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn® Hotels and Resorts, Holiday Inn Express® Hotels, Staybridge Suites® Hotels, Candlewood Suites® Hotels, EVEN™ Hotels and HUALUXE™ Hotels & Resorts. IHG manages IHG® Rewards Club, the world's first and largest hotel loyalty programme with over 74 million members worldwide. The programme was relaunched in July 2013, offering enhanced benefits for members including free internet for Elites across all hotels, globally. IHG franchises, leases, manages or owns over 4,600 hotels and 678,000 guest rooms in nearly 100 countries and territories. With more than 1,000 hotels in its development pipeline, IHG expects to recruit around 90,000 people into additional roles across its estate over the next few years. InterContinental Hotels Group PLC is the Group's holding company and is incorporated in Great Britain and registered in England and Wales. Visit www.ihg.com for hotel information and reservations and www.ihgrewardsclub.com for more on IHG Rewards Club. For our latest news, visit:www.ihg.com/media, www.twitter.com/ihg, www.facebook.com/ihg or www.youtube.com/ihgplc.
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Contact: Vinay Narang - Director - Corporate Communications, India, IHG
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