media. Food preferences are likely to be for
all-day grazing rather than formal meals,
with a focus on quality and sustainability.
“When it comes to learning, the style is
increasingly collaborative, with cabaret
seating preferred and engagement with
the speaker continuous and interactive
through apps such as sli.do,” he says.
“Learning durations have shortened, partly
driven by generational preferences and
partly by [corporations] seeking to cut the
overall costs by reducing course durations
and encouraging delegates to make their
own overnight arrangements.”
Stewart believes that urbanization is a
key trend in conference center learning
as well, strongly driven by the Millennial
generation and its preference for ample op-
tions when it comes to lodging, transport
and numerous dining and entertainment
choices following a day of meetings. He
adds that etc.venues has witnessed tri-fold
growth over the past eight years, spurred
by this trend, and now hosts 700,000 yearly
delegates at its 14 venues—and that other
conference centers are taking heed as well.
“In the U.S., Convene is growing rapidly
with a specialized urban venue concept,”
Stewart says. ”In France
and other Euro-
oped a City
These “challenger” brands are taking
market share off hotel groups as they
move quickly with modern, well-designed facilities that are making some of
the older hotels and residential venues
look like yesterday’s product.”
Another seismic shift in conference meetings—whether at venues set in bustling
downtowns or at remote rural settings—is
getting groups into less-formal settings, the
great outdoors included.
Kapellerput, a highly innovative venue
and estate sprawling across 25 acres in the
southern portion of the Netherlands, is an
overseas conference center among IACC’s
many Euro members that are helping
change the “cookie-cutter” perception of
The unique venue couldn’t be much
more “outside the box,” hosting unexpected workshop subjects ranging from sheep
herding and fencing to ice-carving, plus
unusual spaces like its KABAN treehouse
venue—partially perched over water and
home to two boardrooms and alfresco
areas as well.
“We need to think more holistically
and create meeting environments where
our clients feel comfortable to work,
learn and exchange experience and
ideas.” says Jeu Bressers, Kapellerput’s
director. “The meeting environment is
much more than the sum of rooms, bed-
rooms, beamers [projectors] and meals.
It is the total experience that counts.
“A lot of [today’s] facilities are still based
on the way Baby Boomers used to learn:
in one direction, inactive and without fun.
[That includes] boring teaching environ-
ments with chairs and tables in a row or
square,” he continues. “Today’s meeting
environment should be inspirational. We
In the current event landscape, Bressers
opines that top conference venues must
not only stand out from other meeting
ETC. VENUES, LONDON
ACTIVITIES ROOM, KAPELLERPUT, NETHERLANDS
When it comes to trendspotting, there seems to be a number of definite common threads een across North America and Europe in regards to conference training and education. Here’s a quick look at a few key waves.
MILLENNIALS MATTER. Generation Y is having an impact on conference venues and events.
Planners and properties are responding to the generation’s need for lighter fare and more-casual
dining events; cutting edge high-tech; spaces and experiences focused on collaboration; and outdoor networking as well as physical activities.
LIFE IS A CABARET. Standard theater-style seating is
out, and cabaret seating (tables in rounds) is in, with circular meetings and “meetings-on-the-go” also on the rise.
EVERYONE COUNTS. Company and organizational
hierarchy is becoming less-emphasized at modern conference meetings, as more groups are seeing the importance
of spurring ideas from all of their attendees.
TEAM-FRIENDLY TECH. Technology, as always, is trending, with the current wave showcasing collaborative tools
and gadgets that spur collaboration and engagement.
GETTING SMALL. Larger groups are more often looking
to break into smaller groups that meet in intimate spaces,
in order to foster better brainstorming and networking.
CAMPUS DE CÉLY CHATEAUFORM, PARIS
Jeu Bressers, Director,