What’s on the Minds of Meeting Planners?

A recent poll from Teneo Hospitality Group reveals that a lot of things are keeping meeting planners up at night. The top six cover everything from technology capabilities to data security to dietary requirements.

Maybe there’s a task, project, or upcoming event that’s stressing you out, and as hard as you try, you just can’t stop thinking about it and running through the related best- and worst-case scenarios.

Knowing meeting planners often face this type of work-related stress, Teneo Hospitality Group recently asked top planners from across the country and across industries—associations included—what issues and concerns were most pressing in 2018.

Late last month, it revealed the top six areas of concern on planners’ minds. The results cover everything from data security and Wi-Fi to increasingly complex dietary requirements for attendees.

According to Teneo President Mike Schugt, rapid expansion of technology has led not only to new and more complex issues but also to rising prices. “Concerns about technology costs and reliability led the list of trends, and planners expressed unease with their ability to protect meeting content,” he said in a press release.

Here’s a closer look at each:

Wi-Fi. Effective, high-speed Wi-Fi is a critical aspect of today’s meetings, bringing together phones, tablets, laptops, AV, lighting, and so forth. But, more than ever, planners said they are frustrated by high prices, increasing labor costs, and lack of flexibility. Rising Wi-Fi costs often don’t align with budgets, which means some of those costs may be passed on to attendees.

AV reliability. Controlling costs and ensuring technical quality are a challenge for both meeting venues and planners. Venues must provide top-notch technical services, keep abreast of advances, and ensure that their equipment is operated by highly trained staff. But to negotiate effectively, planners said they need to be familiar with terminology and the specific needs of their exhibitors, vendors, and attendees.

Plug-in power sources. Hotels and conference centers are challenged to keep up with attendees’ device-charging needs, and planners say not having enough places for them to plug in is one of most common complaints they receive. It is no longer enough to have power sources in guestrooms and meeting spaces; today’s attendees want to be plugged in at all times and everywhere in the conference venue.

Data security. As technology expands, so do opportunities to steal information and compromise attendee data. Security problems can range from thefts of mobile devices to a full-blown hacker attack. Add to it new requirements brought on by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took effect in May, and California’s newly passed data protection rules, and you can see why planners are concerned and want assurance that attendee data is safe.

Service consistency. Even in an age of highly standardized big brands, consistency of service remains an issue for planners. For instance, Teneo said one respondent noted that it is possible to book the same meeting at the same hotel brand in two different cities and find notable discrepancies in cost, facilities, services, and staff competence.

Diverse dietary needs. While planners used to offer kosher, vegetarian, and low-fat options, their menus today often include gluten free, lactose intolerant, halal, pescatarian, and vegan. And as attendees become more ethnically diverse, dietary requirements are likewise expected to diversify further, making it even more challenging for planners to ensure that their menus suit all attendees’ needs and preferences.

Schugt said these are all valid concerns and complex problems, requiring realistic and long-term solutions that venues and planners should work on together. “Whatever economic factors are involved, [both] have the same goals,” he said. ‘’These issues will be with us for the foreseeable future, and we should unite to solve them.”

Which of these concerns is top of mind for you currently? Please let us know in the comments below.

(max/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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