IACC has released the findings from its eagerly awaited 2024 Meeting Room of the Future report.

The report, which combines research and insights from 170 meeting venue operators worldwide and is delivered in conjunction with strategic research partner Development Counsellors International (DCI), offers a comprehensive analysis of the industry and forecasts future trends on everything from the adoption of AI to the requirements of Gen Z and shifts in food and beverage preferences. Aramark Destinations further funds this year’s report, along with Pyramid Global Hospitality, Encore and Flik Hospitality Group & Rapport.

The report found that AI adoption across the industry remains relatively low and is mostly confined to a few specific areas (namely marketing, data analysis, and revenue management). However, a significant proportion of venues (around 35 per cent) are considering expanding their use of AI to include menu planning, food waste management, guest services, and food ordering.

The report also found that venues are adjusting to accommodate the behavioural differences of the next generation. Some incorporate more breaks and personal time into their events, while others opt for smaller group settings to encourage more one-to-one engagement. Over 70 per cent of venues now encourage connection to the natural world.

Food and beverage preferences continue to evolve, with just under half of venues noting a decrease in alcohol consumption. Additionally, venues are dealing with a rise in complex and specific dietary requests.

Venues continue to prioritise sustainability. Many have implemented programs to reduce food waste (83 per cent) and eliminate single-use plastics (88 per cent). Additionally, three-quarters of venues now hold environmental or sustainability certification.

Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC said: “This year’s research reaffirms how live meetings are evolving and venues are adapting to the kind of experiences expected by business event organisers for their attendees. Social responsibility is at the heart of many of these trends, and the report clearly shows that venues are in lockstep with the development of facilities and services.”

In addition, IACC’s Global Chair, Nancy Lindemer, said: “The findings in the annual IACC Meeting Room of the Future report continue to be a beacon for the small meetings industry. The importance of experience creation and networking and the need to combine nature and technology are the guides to how our clients want to meet, and the expectations that we as an industry need to be ready to deliver on.

“The shifts in food and beverage over the years scream flexibility and inclusion. Meeting the diverse needs of all guests in a sustainable, thoughtful way while being budget-friendly and, above all, delicious is a challenge IACC properties are delivering in creative ways.”

Download the full report here.