THE EVOLUTION OF MEETINGS
The meetings industry is one which is often met with ambivalence and disinterest by some, but bubbling under the surface is an evolving culture which is slowly but surely taking on an exciting new form.
What strikes us odd as we visit many venues, is the standardised, often traditional, formula of meeting spaces. We don't know about you but who wants to be 'standardised'? We want something 'memorable'.
It's quite clear that meetings often need a corporate ethos but as the rise of start-ups and creative industries hits our cities, we do need to consider a new approach to the traditional meeting environment. We all need chairs, tables and AV, that's a given, but so much more can be achieved in inspiring, bespoke, creative spaces with atmosphere and style- and even chairs and tables can be exciting, trust us!
As a corporate event planner or a PA tasked with booking meeting space, consideration will be given to the merits of each venue. A professional will always and go back to our previous principle of choosing 'the right fit'. For example, a tech start-up pitch to an investor in a stately home just doesn't 'fit', however, use an industrial, contemporary backdrop and bingo! Of course, it depends on the people- what they like, what they expect and what they are accustomed to, but we firmly believe you should always exceed expectations and push boundaries. Sometimes a break from the norm can fuel a sense of excitement among the most monotonous topic or seemingly traditional venue.
So let's take a look at what clever MICE experts are doing today...
Space to think
Unique spaces are popping up all over the place and this is great news for meetings and event planners. Variety is the spice of life and wow, have we got choice. Originally earmarked purely for the capital, unique meeting spaces are sprawling around the country and they're pretty special:
-Malmaison hotels offer Pod meeting rooms from £35 per hour - unique and very affordable
-Jump in a Green & Fortune sea container along the South Bank for a modern meeting with stunning views
-CEME Conference Centre have a batch of contemporary meeting rooms, traditional in format but modern in design (we like their canary yellow themed room)
-The Aviator have capitlised on their unrivalled views onto Farnborough airport's runways from their breakout spaces.
Appetite for change
Food and drink is evolving too with a variety of options up for grabs:
-Try out some brain food. The Arch in London has some great advice on what will stimulate delegates' tastebuds
-Grab a quick meeting and a bite to eat in an igloo overlooking the Thames with Coppa Club
-Many venues now offer self-serve communal delis, allowing delegates to grab a bite to eat while mingling with those attending similar events in the venue- perfect for networking.
Rest and recharge
And if you need a stopover, group bookings are no longer a pain in the neck. Ok, so you may need to use a travel management company if you are large corporate but there are many chain options which are now pushing the boundaries:
-Take a look at Travel Lodge's new Super Room option which offers upgraded rooms with all the mod cons you'll need after or before a big meeting
-Holiday Inn has launched a new Hub collection which are cool bolt-holes for meeting-packed trips to cities
-And if you think sharing accommodation may be the best way to solidify modern business relationships, why not try a natty named 'boatel'; Gainsborough Wharf is a great example of canal accommodation.
Now don't get us wrong, business is business and we all need to approach corporate events sensibly. However, some of the more creative industry driven clients are demanding spaces that are more aspirational these days. To capitalise on this, being 'different' and remodelling meeting spaces can help keep a venue's cash registers ringing.