Claire Rowland, Director of Marketing at QHotels shares her
thoughts on the conference market in 2014.
"As the recovery takes hold, we have seen conference enquiries
grow since last year, we envisage this trend will continue into
2014 as the economy improves and business confidence
ROI will continue to be an industry buzz word and this is a trend
we see continuing as a long term recessionary impact; businesses
will continue to push for the best quality and exceptional service
but for the best value for money.
Another trend that we see continuing is faster shorter booking
cycles and shorter conferences - again another long term impact of
the recession. The challenge for venues here is to deliver a
quality and memorable event in a shorter space of time both pre and
during the conference. Interestingly as a result of the trend for
shorter conferences, we predict more focus will be placed on
conference dinners and team building or extra-curricular
We have seen this trend start to take hold in 2013 with businesses
investing more in entertaining and engaging delegates with special
VIP dinners and exhilarating or unusual team building exercises.
This all stems from the fact that people are under increasing
pressure to be the best versions of themselves they can be: to eat
healthily, spend carefully, live ethically and achieve. But
as the pressure increases, so does the need to let off steam.
Businesses are recognising this and seeking ways to help their
employees escape and switch off. As such, extreme events that take
people to their limits have become a popular and fun way of
releasing pressure. QHotels has answered this trend by launching
its very own Mudference package where delegates are put through
their paces and miles of mud by an ex-military trainer to develop
team building skills, mental and physical strength.
In addition to this, we predict a change to meeting space itself
as businesses look to move away from traditional 'boardroom-style'
space and create more innovative environments for their meeting or
event. The focus is on creating more productive settings, it's
becoming more commonplace for delegates to break out of the typical
boardroom environment and try something new and engaging in order
to increase productivity and get the most out of a conference. This
reflects a more collaborative approach to business that we are
seeing and is evident in conference technology too, with more
delegates dialing in and requiring AV equipment and support.
One of the biggest trends we predict for 2014 is in conference and
event food - this year we have seen many special requests for food
and we think this will continue to develop - after all food plays a
key part in ensuring a conference or event is memorable. Also, as
organisations become more concerned around the health and wellbeing
of employees we will see a move to more healthy conference food and
a focus on locally sourced, imaginative and inspiring
And finally, green credentials have now become a prerequisite for
many Blue Chip companies when choosing conference venues, but this
will develop beyond the green agenda to a more broader corporate
social responsibility requirement, as the demand for organisations
to operate responsibly and be transparent takes hold. Starbucks and
Amazon tax scandals are great examples of this. People now care how
corporate brands operate and will avoid buying from them if they
think they are corrupt in any way - this impacts customers at all
levels from consumer through to trade - and so conference venues
must work hard to promote their reputation and act