As the current Director of Sales and Marketing at Hotel EMC2, which opened in 2017, I have seen it all when it comes to hotel meeting and events. Throughout my current role, I have learned how important it is to incorporate the property’s identity to provide a unique atmosphere. As an art and science inspired hotel, we have many of one-of-a-kind features including our on-site library of 12,000 books and robot concierges, which I make sure to highlight when meeting potential clients. From small corporate meetings to elaborate receptions, I have been a part of the planning process from beginning to end for a diverse array of events. Throughout my career, I have learned that it is a necessity to stay on top of hospitality trends to drive in new and recurring business. Trends seem to change as fast as the season, which has instilled in me how important it is to be able to adapt. These are my thoughts on what I believe will be trending in hotel meeting and events for 2020.

Bookings: The industry will see more team building events in 2020. There are numerous ways to communicate via technology or get stuck behind a computer. Face-to-face communication seems to be limited and has been restricted in the past ten years. Additionally, incentive events are an opportunity to share appreciation for a company’s top producers. Stepping away from the daily grind can make a large impact on future productivity and motivation when team members feel appreciated.

Set-Up: When event planners are looking for unique seating arrangements and informal settings, they tend to steer away from traditional hotel ballrooms. Spaces with character or open spaces tend to work well, such as warehouses, lofts, museums and creative spaces with “Instagrammable” backdrops. Utilizing an assortment of seating or renting lounge furniture will also be popular. In mid-size lecture style events, I see event planners layer their seating from front to back with couches, chairs and then high boys for guests to mingle and move around, which creates a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. The main idea is to create spaces for brainstorming and networking.

Motivating Decisions: I believe the strongest motivator for event planners will be value. Creating memorable experiences, exceptional service, delicious food and creative spaces all provide value to the event planner. Some have tangible value, and some are subjective. However, knowing the business objectives and expectations of the client allows hotels to create a custom package, which also adds value to the event planner.

F&B: Event planners love choices, especially when they are planning events for many people and do not know attendees’ favorite foods. Most event planners are very conscious of dietary restrictions and allergies, which helps create custom menus when needed. Being flexible and creating customized menu choices is essential for event planners to meet the needs of all guests in 2020.

Sustainability Features: Sustainability is a hot topic for many companies choosing to partner with a hotel venue. Most hotels have focused on making smaller changes to the guest experience through water conservation programs, recycling and waste reduction, mobile check-in instead of room keys and fresh or seasonal produce in food and beverage programs. I believe this trend will continue to grow into 2020, considering some of these programs have become a determining factor when patrons choose a hotel venue. These features are not time consuming or expensive to add and have a positive impact on the environment.

Technology: The expectation for all technology is for it to be “easy” and “issue-free.” Since people are surrounded by technology all the time, event planners would prefer to operate the technology themselves, instead of an onsite technician – for simple, small meetings. I foresee streaming devices and connectivity being an important feature in 2020. Live streaming will become increasingly important, so attendees do not have to physically travel to the meeting, which the industry is beginning to see more of. Although amplified gamification and VR content has not been requested or available at most venues yet, I predict that these will become a new trend over the next five to ten years.

I believe the above six insights will make a difference in the event planning industry in 2020. To stay ahead of the curve, it is important for hospitality professionals to incorporate these trending items into their yearly plans to potentially drive an increase in bookings. These leading decision elements, when implemented correctly, may help hotel meetings businesses flourish in the upcoming new year.