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What’s up …? 8 emerging trends in corporate meeting and event planning

The times, they are a changin’ … and they are a changin’ faster than ever.

The traditional construct of corporate meetings and events is experiencing a technology- and audience-driven culture shift that will be fun to watch – and adopt — as 2018 marches on. There are some very interesting, emerging meeting trends for those who host or plan business gatherings; some you may already have experienced, and others you likely will before long. Let’s take a look …

“Mood Management …?”

Anybody who’s successfully planned or hosted even a single corporate meeting or event knows that there are myriad logistical details that must be tended to for a program to be successful. Most assuredly, the devil’s in the details. Well, add “mood management” to the mix. A report from Eventtia says there’s an increasing focus on pandering to the personal well-being of attendees; things like adding more organic foods when menu-planning, building in rest breaks (even optional relaxation and meditation sessions), allowing smart devices in all sessions, and doing periodic “temperature checks” with audiences to make sure they’re in, or close to, their “happy place” so content is effectively absorbed and embraced.

Focus on Focus

While smart devices are not only allowed and are more and more integrated into the meeting or event curriculum, they have to be managed. One company starts each business session by asking people to put down their phones and tablets, or close their laptops, then shut their eyes and be completely still for 60 seconds of silence and quietude. This helps attendees disengage from technology and opens up space for greater focus on content about to be delivered.

Co-Creation is the New Collaboration

Traditionally, business meetings and events have been based on one-way “telling and selling” knowledge and solutions. In the future, there will be a shift to participants helping to create that knowledge and those solutions, with much of it done “on the fly”. Expect there to be less Sermon on the Mount and more roll-up-your-sleeves sessions with facilitators, experts and participants huddling and co-creating knowledge and solutions, as well as action plans. This approach tills the soil of embracement and buy-in, and everyone feels like a contributor. Reminds me of the little girl in the old Hamburger Helper commercials, “… and I helped!”

Tell Me a Story

There’s a reason why Biblical messages were often framed as parables (a proper-sounding word for stories). People listen more closely and embrace more readily when the knowledge or lesson is presented in story form. Not much has changed in a couple thousand years. When the mind’s eye – the ability to let go and allow one’s imagination to wander – is engaged, people learn faster. And with attention spans at an all-time low, the need for strategic story-telling is intensifying. It’s all part of the push to engage audiences on an experiential basis. Like any good movie, book or play, you set the stage, introduce characters, weave together a compelling plot line with various roller-coaster ups and downs, and leave the audience with something of true value. In corporate business meetings and events, this can take place as onstage role-playing, timed business simulations with built-in challenges, or small group sessions in which participants work together to develop their own story before presenting to the group at-large. Of course, everything is rooted in the needs and priorities of the business goals and objectives. It’s true … time flies when you’re having fun (and learning).

“We’re going where …? Cool!”

In addition to the increased focus on generating compelling content and meaningful engagement, one of the hottest 2018 event trends is a shift away from hotel ballrooms and conference centers for more unique and memorable meeting spaces. That’s not to say the hotel industry is hurting, not at all. In fact, it’s booming right now. But there’s an emerging trend in the desire to stage select gatherings in non-traditional settings. Who wouldn’t remember General Sessions held in a Wisconsin barn with breakout sessions in the hayloft, or outdoors in a grassy pasture? What about a Napa winery with smaller-group sessions on a sunny, vine-draped hillside? This desire to go someplace different is expanding from the after-hours social settings which have long been held in local museums or hip venues, even cocktail receptions at Alcatraz, marine aquariums, refurbished warehouses, etc. Younger, more restless, entertain-me-now audiences are fueling this trend. They want everything to be an experience and this is is a great way to deliver on their expectations.

In wrapping up, allow me to switch gears …

For those within the corporate meetings and events industry looking for an entree or a fresh start, there are also some interesting career-based things happening.

More Opportunities for Younger Workers

While there’s no substitute for seasoned, knowledgeable meeting planners (after all, we know where the landmines are buried, having learned from painful experience), companies are warming up to fresh-faced candidates who can offer insight into new marketing and digital tools that can be adopted to attract and connect with increasingly younger audiences. More and more often, the words “entry level” and “internship” are appearing in meeting planning-related job searches.

Being “In the Office” Often Means Working Wherever You Want

According to a recent article in The New York Times, nearly 45% of Americans across all industries spend at least part of their work week toiling from somewhere other than “the office”. A Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) study says that number is significantly higher in the M&E industry, topping 60%. With commute times across America increasing (not just in major urban areas) and per-square-foot lease agreements costlier than ever, companies are realizing “working from home” isn’t goofing off (or “golfing off”) and there are considerable savings in time and money that can be realized.

Doors Are Opening!

With the current economy, monthly jobs report, and stock market trending (for the most part) in a positive direction, an study revealed 61% of U.S. employers anticipate hiring more people in 2018, particularly in roles that support business growth. As we all know, when business is booming, the need for meetings, events and conferences booms along with it.

At dynami, we’ve expanded our team to best manage that increasing activity. Lauren Kolve, CMP recently joined our team as Manager, Event Marketing. Lauren has an amazing track record, having managed more than 70 events worldwide as an event specialist at high-profile organizations such as Oracle, KPMG and Conway.  She has a unique understanding of the growing training and conference sector of meetings and events and, most importantly, she has a knack for designing and executing unique and highly effective attendee experiences while keeping a close eye on your stated budget. Welcome aboard, Lauren!


The traditional construct of corporate meetings and events is experiencing a technology- and audience-driven culture shift that will be fun to watch – and adopt — as 2018 marches on. Resist the same ol’, same ol’ and shake things up at your next corporate meeting or event!

No doubt, 2018 will be an interesting year for those of us who host or plan corporate meetings and events. What are some of the event trends you’re seeing … or what’s a future trend you’d like to start? Feel free to weigh in!