Hybrid work is fueling these 9 conference venue trends | The Planner

As more companies have embraced hybrid and remote work arrangements, the need for conference and meeting venues that foster connections among colleagues has grown. What does this mean for conference venues?

Premier Hotel & Resorts report that, increasingly, this shift has seen many clients seeking innovative alternatives to the conventional office, boardroom, or conference setting. Attributes such as outdoor event spaces, flexibility, and being high-tech enabled are just some of the trending requirements for conferences in 2023 and beyond. Read on, for all 9 on-trend venue requests.

1. Indoor vs outdoor opportunities

Thanks to the shake-up of the Covid-19 pandemic, companies are now open to using a blend of environments – including outdoor settings. There are many health benefits to experiencing the outdoors, while the break away from traditional classroom-style setups is often welcomed by attendees.

The exterior of Premier Hotel The Winkler at night
The exterior of Premier Hotel The Winkler at night

2. Flexibility

Another trend us a shift from large theater-style set-ups to smaller, more intimate group sessions. Versatile seating arrangements, breakout areas tailored to the specific needs of each conference or team-building activity, adaptable scheduling and time-keeping, and all-round flexibility are some of the many changing requirements of conferences.

Another trend us a shift from large theater-style set-ups to smaller, more intimate group sessions.

3. Tech support

Events are increasingly relying on technology to streamline, professionalise, and improve various processes. As a result, conferences venues need to be able to support this technology effectively.

A robust audio-visual setup and high-speed uninterrupted WiFi are increasingly prevalent, while smart TVs, projectors, audio setups, connectivity cables, and ample plug points are must-haves. Conference units must host built-in microphones and video cameras for a seamless experience when connecting to platforms like Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams.

Finally, and critically, the tech professionals must be on stand-by to assist with troubleshooting issues that might arise.

4. Culinary experiences

In the quest to boost focus and productivity throughout a conference, traditional starch and sugar laden menus are falling away. Instead, healthy and nutritious options have taken centre stage, with a preference for offering a pick ‘n choose menu so that diverse dietary requirements and preferences can be readily – and pleasantly – catered for.

Another trend is to incorporate restaurants, gourmet catering services, and wine tastings into conference programmes. This can greatly add to the attendees’ experience, while also being a chance to showcase regional cuisine or sample award-winning wines during breaks or networking sessions.

5. Unique and captivating settings

South Africa has a lot to offer when it comes to beautiful landscapes, and taking an event to an appealing destination is a sure-fire way to increase attendee interest and excitement.

Additionally, it’s important that the venue itself is also appealing. Adequate space, ample light and fresh air, comfortable design and furnishings – all of these features improve attendee engagement and performance.

The Pool Deck at Premier Hotel OR Tambo
The Pool Deck at Premier Hotel OR Tambo

6. Team-building activities

Increasingly, many venues are offering a range of on-site team-building activities that can be seamlessly integrated into conference schedules. This type of convenient add-on is a great tool to foster camaraderie and encourage collaboration within teams – which for remote teams is even more valuable.

7. The ‘Bleisure’ trend

Finding a conference venue close to tourist attractions and activities, such as wildlife reserves, golf courses, hiking trails, or historical landmarks, gives conference attendees a unique opportunity to combine business with leisure, ultimately enhancing the whole conference experience.

Premier Resort Sani Pass in the Drakensberg
Premier Resort Sani Pass in the Drakensberg

8. On-site accommodation

For multi-day conferences, on-site accommodation is a significant advantage. Not only does it eliminate the time and hassle of daily travel, but it also creates more opportunities in how the programme is designed, and is a more effective way to keep a group together for networking and relationship building.

9. Location

Location – in terms of ease of access – is always a key consideration when choosing a conference venue. Safe, easy, and with minimal travel time are all valuable factors that clients consider.

The Premier Hotel OR Tambo's meeting room Boeing 2
The Premier Hotel OR Tambo’s meeting room Boeing 2