How to enhance the event experience for delegates
By Louisa Watson MIDIM, director of marketing at Wyboston Lakes Resort
Now more than ever, the event experience is all about “delegate engagement” - moving away from presentations and lecture style meetings to interactive sessions that create more memorable experiences.
A recent study conducted by BBC Newsbeat on the behaviours of Generation Z found that learning and education, blended with creativity and nurturing support structures are a top priority for career progression.
Venues and event organisers have to provide the environment which allows this new generation to fulfil their aspirations in the way that fits with their way of working. What is essential is to provide great flexibility.
This generation has been brought up in a world of festival-style events, with festival style food and easy access to technology. Interactivity and experiential communication are key features of conferences and exhibitions today, so we have to help meeting planners to incorporate them.
Event organisers are looking for something different, imaginative; they seek venues that can offer something unique.
This was a key consideration in planning our comprehensive upgrade and the creation of the new Woodlands Event Centre, ensuring that we are investing in experiential meeting spaces for the future.
Personalisation plays a big part in that experience. By introducing interactive technology, delegates can experience business events at their own pace, leaving time and space for networking and social opportunities.
The rise of social media and live streaming for those attending remotely means that venues must have cutting edge infrastructure in place to meet the high bandwidth demands generated by multiple digital device carrying delegates.
When we undertook the development at The Woodlands Event Centre we understood that our key bookers are now millennials. Those browsing our web pages and making enquiries are between 25 and 34 years.
As part of a comprehensive study in how to best appeal to this market, trends indicated an approach that appealed to less productivity and more creativity. According to a 2017 study conducted by Steelcase, 77% of workers believe that in the future, creativity will be a critical job skill and 76% believe that emerging technologies will change their job.
How space is used is more important than ever to creativity.
At The Woodlands we have provided more breakout space, with social areas to work comfortably, relax or network with others. We recognise that meetings are becoming shorter with more break times, time to meet others and to catch up on external pressures (emails, family calls etc.).
The next generation wants everything to be less formal, so we have addressed our tone of voice, uniforms, bar menus and décor to reflect something with more personality, more human.
A branded coffee experience, with all the buzz and flavour of a high street coffee house but included in the delegate rate. The F&B offering has changed, no more blanket servery type dining, it’s interesting and creative, it’s what you want to eat when you go out.
Dining is much less formal, more street food, market food, and bowl food from across the globe. Next gen wants healthier eating with focus on calories and nutritionally balanced menus.
Allergens and dietary requirements have increased exponentially, along with the need for quality ingredients, locally sourced with local influences. Guests want more experiences over material goods. Presentation is an important as taste and flavour.
By providing facilities such as these, venues can make face to face events a central part of the communications and learning for the next generation.