Happy New Year! What’s Trending Next?

As we welcome 2016, the Kiawah ProMeetings team wishes you a successful year and shares what we see on the horizon in our ever-changing industry. Like you, we keep up on all the meetings news and attend the forward-thinking conferences. Yet for us, the real trend-spotting happens as we interact with our guests – some of the most tuned-in business travelers in the country – and as we innovate to stay a step ahead of their expectations. That’s what drives us – and why we believe these trends are shaping the year ahead:

Face-to-face won’t be replaced any time soon. A virtual meeting may work fine for brief information exchanges, but it takes a real meeting to bring people together in a focused setting that supports learning, sparks creative thinking and builds relationships. Our meeting professionals talk to planners constantly, and a theme we hear consistently is the value of face-to-face. Even as technology leaps ahead, personal interaction continues to be the most effective communication. In fact, there’s new evidence that our digital age may actually be starving us for the rich, inspiring and collaborative experiences we share when we come together. Recent science backs this up – here’s a quick and fascinating read about the topic and what the latest research tells us: The Creative Power of Meeting Eyeball to Eyeball.

Business or pleasure? The future of meetings is both. Here at Kiawah, we see our business guests combining more leisure with their trips, staying on over a weekend and bringing along their partner or the whole family. While our gorgeous private island makes this option irresistible, this trend is widespread. Business travelers everywhere are striving harder to achieve work-life balance by mixing business and leisure, a trend that’s coined the term “bleisure.” We personally think “bizcation” sounds more fun but, whatever you call it, we’re in favor and encourage you to choose a destination where your attendees can bliss out after business like they do on Kiawah. After meetings, our guests can enjoy five championship golf coursesand amazing recreation for couples and families – or take a short drive to historic and cultural activities in downtown Charleston. Read more about bleisure and how this trend benefits companies by helping employees relax and work more productively – all with a positive impact on the bottom line.

The dynamic of meetings will continue to change. Today’s world offers so many ways to be engaged, and that expectation is now part of every meeting. Everyone wants to be a participant; no one wants to feel they’re merely attendees. Here at Kiawah, we help planners achieve that goal by sharing novel approaches and introducing new ideas. Just a few trends we see in our conference rooms are shorter sessions and speakers who actively engage their audience. We’re also showing planners how to leave passive seating arrangements behind and adopt new setups that promote discussion and participation. (For specific tips, see our recent blogHow Fresh Formats Can Spark Your Meetings.) Technology will keep moving fast this year, bringing even more apps and innovations to help planners engage participants before, during and after an event. We recommend you take a peek into this exciting future with this tech trends article.

The buzz is about “boutique” destinations. Savvy business travelers are seeking the local and the unique – and not just for their vacations. They want to weave these experiences into their business travel, too. Planners now need to look at destinations not just for what they offer, but for what they offer that’s different. In a world where many venues are so much alike, there’s a growing demand to satisfy groups’ expectations for authentic flavors and culture. If you read our most recent blog about choosing a venue, you’ll know how fresh experiences and an inspiring cultural scene can elevate a meeting and reward your group. If you missed it, click here to read The Destination Makes The Difference, complete with examples of one-of-a-kind experiences here on Kiawah and in America’s top city, Charleston, South Carolina.

Let us help you discover Kiawah in 2016 – or welcome your group back to the island again. Our team is dedicated to support in your success in Kiawah’s exceptional conference setting and showing you how to explore Charleston, the #1 U.S. City in the Conde Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards for the fifth year in a row. Act quickly to enjoy early-in-the-year savings and start 2016 off with the best meeting ever.