Mills James cites 5 trends defining the meeting experience in 2023

COLUMBUS, Ohio — March 28, 2023 — Just three months into the new year and the meetings environment is thriving. Mills James, an award-winning, concierge-level, audiovisual services provider, is reporting that shorter, in-person meetings are growing in demand this year, with planners expecting the latest audiovisual technologies to make event experiences exceptional. From hybrid equipment and sustainable practices to always-new, portable equipment and stellar service delivery, a facility’s AV partner is playing a pivotal role in the return of meetings for the foreseeable future.

“Time is a precious resource, and in today’s economy businesses are looking for ways to cut costs while re-engaging with their remote workforces,” said John Watts, Mills James VP of Hospitality. “A lot of people are working from home. To keep them from feeling isolated, it’s imperative that companies bring co-workers together to drive employee wellness and retention, instill company culture and corporate values, improve team bonding, and increase professional development. As a service-focused AV company that works with planners across the globe, we are seeing a big demand this year for smaller, more simplified meetings, and we are finding that the technologies we are investing in for our customers and how they are deployed are making a positive impact on event success.”

Mills James cites 5 AV trends defining the meeting experience in 2023:

1. Still a Need for Hybrid Events — Virtual events were popular over the last two years, with streaming equipment becoming standard at most meeting facilities across the globe. It’s not surprising that AV providers want to leverage their investment in hybrid equipment, and business owners are also capitalizing on the spend. Despite conjecture, hybrid equipment is not vanishing from the scene. Companies are limiting off-site meeting attendance to one or two people to cut down on travel and registration costs with remaining staff participating remotely. While this is bitter-sweet to venues with guestrooms and catering departments, it is still bringing meetings back, just in a smaller way.

2. Demand for Sustainable Venues, Technology Grows — According to the 2023 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, “Seventy-one percent of respondents say their organization considers sustainability when planning a meeting or event; of those, 70% are working with a defined sustainable meeting strategy. Minimizing paper usage, choosing green suppliers, and applying energy-saving and waste reduction practices are the top three ways they meet their sustainability targets.” This year especially, planners expect greener AV gear. This includes equipment that meets the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program and the RoHS Directive that mandates hazardous substances are not built into the equipment. They also want assurances that AV equipment is recyclable. Facilities with green gear and robust sustainability strategies will minimize their event emissions and win new contracts.

3. Stationary Tech is Out, Portable is In — With boardrooms being the exception, fewer event facilities are opting to invest in stationary AV equipment for several reasons. First, its costly to purchase. Few, if any, facilities have AV equipment in their 2023 capex budgets, even though planners are demanding the latest digital tools. Second, most maintenance staff are not skilled to fix AV equipment. If gear fails, it can be difficult to service or replace – especially if gear goes down during an event. Third, no one can predict how a customer wants a meeting space to look and feel. When AV equipment is stationary (such as 85-inch TV monitors), it limits set up and can even deter a group from booking the event. Portability gives operators the flexibility they need to structure events their way.

4. New Technology Saves the Day — Planners want assurances that the AV technology they are paying for is in good working condition. The same goes for how the equipment looks. Boutique AV services providers are investing in new, dedicated inventory for every property. This sets up meeting venues for success, as most planners will opt for a facility with the latest technology vs. one that uses old rental equipment. Hotels, resorts and conference facilities do not have time to worry about managing and maintaining AV equipment. Choosing a partner that understands the importance of providing always-new AV technology for events – no matter how big or small – is a game-changing service differentiator.

5. Service, Service, Service — No matter how new the technology or how great the room looks,
it’s the service that gets events to return. Planners expect AV technicians to be trained and to care about the events and people they support. They expect the same person setting up easels can operate a camera for a virtual event. They expect the equipment to work consistently, the first time, every time. And they expect competitive commissions from a dynamic pricing model that results in substantial revenue returns.

“The pandemic forced us to rethink how people will interact and connect with each other in a business setting,” Watts said. “The good news is small meetings are playing a big role within their organizations, and as a result they are infusing new life into travel and the event business. It’s more important than ever that conference venues partner with an AV services company that is positioned for growth and technology investment. That way, the industry can migrate from smaller, simpler meetings today to larger conventions and tradeshows tomorrow.”