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Eventful News 8/22: Microhotels, Sourcing Woes, & Digital Audiences

As planners, success is all about providing a memorable experience by harmonizing multiple facets into a holistic event purpose. This week’s news speaks to many of those facets, covering five different but equally important pieces of the event puzzle.

5 Interesting Event News Updates From Around the Industry

1. A Hotel Category Sees Growth by Making Small Stylish (New York Times)

TLDR

Microhotels are making waves in the United States, riding the wave of the minimalism movement and turning smaller spaces into the hotel style du jour. Inspired by the Japanese pod hotels of years past, much of the furniture can be folded up and stowed away in these rooms, allowing them to be less than half the size of a typical room. 

Microhotel brands like Marriott-owned Moxy are popping up in troves in expensive, urban cities such as New York and San Francisco, where they’re loved by businessmen and backpackers — but most of all by hoteliers.

Although the size of microhotel guest rooms is ‘minimalist,’ Dr. Robson said, ‘it does not mean they are not comfortable or stylish. They’re very well planned, and they make optimal use of every square inch.’” -Jane L. Levere, Contributor to the New York Times

What does it mean for planners?

Microhotel brands such as Moxy still have meeting space available, and, in fact, many compensate for smaller rooms with large, inviting common spaces that cater to networking and coworking. Especially for events with a younger demographic of attendees, these types of hotels could help planners save guests money on rooms in costly host cities — all the while delivering a unique aesthetic.

What’s next?

With the growing minimalist movement and modern attendees who want to spend more time exploring than in their rooms, microhotels will continue to grow as a segment moving into the future. This means a growing selection of shrinking spaces at lower costs to attendees, perhaps making it more likely for planners to fill their room blocks and avoid attrition fees.

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2. Finding the Right Venue Still Plagues Meeting Planners (Skift)

TLDR

Despite improvements in venue-sourcing technology, planners still find the sourcing process to be the largest friction point in planning. Skift reports that researching and choosing a venue are still among the top three most time-consuming pieces of sourcing as a whole, citing the 2019 Cvent Global Planner Sourcing Report, .

This trend toward more attendees across a large portfolio of managed meetings underlines the importance hoteliers should place on making every interaction with a planner quick and service-oriented. Planners simply do not have the time to waste on inefficiency or miscommunication.” -2019 Cvent Global Planner Sourcing Report 

Source: Cvent

What does it mean for planners?

Coupled with stretched budgets, growing attendee counts, and more events to plan year-over-year, planners are more eager than ever to streamline the sourcing process — an issue that new technological solutions haven’t yet fully solved. Meanwhile, many still experience difficulties when in contact with venues, as 44% of the 2,650 planners surveyed said that they had lost interest in a venue due to poor communication. 

What’s next?

In terms of venue elements that planners prioritize in the sourcing process, venue cost and event space layout top the chart. Coming in third and fourth on the sourcing report are location and availability for specific dates, respectively. As sourcing platforms continue to grow in sophistication, so too will algorithms that take these factors and surface a viable selection of venues to streamline the process.

Source: Cvent

Further Reading: 2019 Global Planner Sourcing Report

3. The Natural Products Expo Sets a Strong Example for Sustainability (TSNN)

TLDR

Long before sustainability became an industry buzzword, the world’s largest natural products trade shows — Natural Products Expo East and West — were already working toward “green” events. Today, sustainability is at the root of the trade shows’ identities, and a mantra they live up to by working closely with venues, environmental consultancies, and exhibitors who are committed to helping reduce the show’s footprint.

Sustainability is a focus for the shows because we all must do our part in offsetting the impact events have on the environment, and with shows of our size, our awareness and efforts are critical and we have an opportunity to pave the way for others. It’s important that every show organizer does what they can to prioritize sustainable practices, as events have a major impact on the environment and future health.” -Lacey Gautier, Show Director at New Hope Network

What does it mean for planners?

It’s not news that sustainability has become an almost unflinching expectation of attendees. Bringing sustainability to fruition remains an elusive task — one that takes time, resources, and a committed team. However, if NPE can teach us anything, it’s that sustainability is largely a product of key partnerships. For planners that have the budget, consultancies and non-profits can help map out a path to “greener” events, without sapping additional resources from the internal team.

Additionally, working with a “green” venue is key. These venues already have sustainable practices in place, putting less burden on planners from the get-go.

What’s next?

For annual events, setting future goals in regards to sustainability is imperative. Just as the NPE has committed to eliminating single-use plastics by 2022, planners need to give themselves the carrot on the stick that gives focus and fodder to a sustainable vision. These goals should be challenging but attainable — reeled in by the realities of resources, but not intimidated by them.

Further Reading: Eventful News: Sustainability, Bleisure, & the Facial Recognition Dilemma 

4. How the Pritzker Forum Designed Their Event for a Livestream Audience

TLDR

The Pritzker Forum, now in its fifth year, is a multi-day international conference in Chicago that takes place in early June. Planned by Agency AE in partnership with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, it congregates global leaders and other key decision makers to share ideas and insights that may improve the future of cities.

This year, the event broadened its reach by opening up the forum to a livestream audience. Yet they didn’t just call it good by putting up the livestream. They also made significant shifts to the event space layout, catering to the digital audience and creating a more inclusive experience.

Live stream viewers weren’t seeing the backs of heads per a typical theater-style setup but the faces of the speakers and the forum attendees sitting in the audience. This subtle shift in seating arrangement created visual interest and had at-home viewers feeling like they were part of the discussion and immersed in the audience environment.” -Elise Farrington, Senior Account Executive at Agency EA

What does it mean for planners?

Instead of traditional auditorium-style seating, the Pritzker Forum varied seating, offering theater seating, cabaret seating, highboy tables, and more — and positioning them in such a way that the audience would not have their back to the at-home audience. They also put a huge emphasis on production to create a higher-quality more immersive viewing experience. 

By allowing digital viewers to see the faces of the audience, it created more of a connection, helping digital viewers feel less isolated and pick up on the energy of the room.

What’s next?

Livestreaming is a great way to broaden the reach of an event and potentially boost attendance for subsequent years by giving at-home viewers a taste of the real deal. It’s also becoming more commonplace by the year — especially for large events, whether it’s entertainment events like Bonnaroo or conferences like the Pritzker Forum. 

The at-home audiences who tune in from afar may even be larger than the audience at the venue. As such, they need to be part of the consideration in spatial planning, and planners must find ways to walk the line between audiences to create an experience that appeals to both. 

5. Walk Score Releases the 10 Most Walkable Cities in America (Smarter Travel)

TLDR

Walk Score has just released their list of the ten most walkable cities in the United States, naming some top event cities. The report also names some of the most pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods in each locale. These cities are: 

  1. New York City, NY
  2. San Francisco, CA
  3. Boston, MA
  4. Miami, FL
  5. Philadelphia, PA
  6. Chicago, IL
  7. Washington, DC
  8. Seattle, WA
  9. Oakland, CA
  10. Long Beach, CA

What does it mean for planners?

Attendees are hungry for authentic experiences and exploration in their host cities, and walkable cities make this a possibility without additional transportation costs or logistics. While some of these cities come at a high-price point, the “walkability” provides a better experience and can potentially help large events offset costs by not having to provide additional transportation.

What’s next?

As wellness and the out-of-event experience grow in importance, walkability could become a key factor in the growing list of elements that planners take into consideration in an already-complicated sourcing process.

Further Reading: Why First-Tier Cities Aren’t Necessarily the Right First Choice

Published August 21, 2019

Come back to our blog next Thursday for another roundup of the most important event news of the week! And, find last week’s event planning news here.

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