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Home >  OPINIONSensory experiences, ‘wholeness’ and more for Year of the Rooster
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Sensory experiences, ‘wholeness’ and more for Year of the Rooster
Marriott’s Nichlas Maratos says local and high-sensory experiences to be high in demand, while security and sub-meetings to pose challenges for planners in the year ahead

23 Jan 2017

The Experience
Simply attending the meeting is out. The total meeting experience is in. Meeting planners are looking for a full spectrum of services including meeting registration and payment solutions.

Meetings need to create integrated value and make an impact. Experiential learning, teambuilding activities, lounges with music, themed parties, and customised lighting effects are popular choices for planners at present. A “high-sensory” experience leads to a greater emotional connection, which can drive better brand recognition, sales, client retention and meet ROIs.

Wellness and sustainability
Last year saw higher demand for the “wholeness” component of health and wellness, comprising emotional, social, and spatial considerations apart from just diet and exercise. 

Guests displayed greater environmental consciousness by enquiring more about sustainable meetings.

More companies are turning their focus towards corporate social responsibility. There have been more requests from customers for an RFP that incorporates activities that involve ‘giving back’ to the community or environment.

Catering to this, we have our coral nursery programme at The Andaman, a Luxury Collection Resort in Langkawi, where guests can learn about our Coral Reef without having to wait for low tides. A range of activities are offered here, including the opportunity to transplant your very own coral colony, or get ‘up close and personal’ with our Private Guided Snorkel experience.

Another example is Plaza Athénée Bangkok, A Royal Méridien Hotel. As the world’s first ISO 20121 accredited hotel, the hotel is certified for Sustainability Event Management System for planning and delivery of sustainable meetings.

Technology
The rate of technology change is accelerating. Meeting planners are increasingly using mobile applications and event technology – such as virtual meetings or wearable technology – to achieve increased attendee engagement, create more immersive experiences and greater event effectiveness.

We’ve taken this on-board by making it our goal to provide planners with more, high-quality information and expertise that best serves their needs.

Our proprietary tools like Meetings Imagined – a first-of-its-kind industry digital tool that assists planners from inspiration through to execution – are all designed in line with the objective of the meeting. Our Meeting Services Apps is another product that places meetings management at the fingertips of meeting planners.

Local experiences
Mid- to large-scale meetings and events typically bring in an international set of participants, who are looking to experience local culture as much as they can during the short period of time that they are in that destination. As such, there have been more and more requests for localised meetings breaks or teambuilding activities that bring local experiences to meetings venue, from Thai street food markets to Tai Chi teambuilding exercises.

Hybrid events
Technology advances have allowed physical events to reach wider audiences, increasing participation through the online tools available. Hybrid events encourage content sharing, build a knowledge portal for event participants and help market future events by sharing highlights from the current year.

Security
Guests are travelling more than ever. They travel for business or leisure to all the different corners of the globe. That being said, heightened security concerns are making some people think twice about travelling to particular destinations. This is one of the predominant concerns for anyone in the travel industry right now.

Challenges
Booking lead times have become a lot shorter. Planners have to work harder to convince their clients to commit to events way in advance.

Meetings may be getting shorter, but they’re also becoming more complex. Large meetings can give rise to many smaller sub-meetings that occur simultaneously because individuals are trying to maximise the opportunity to meet.

Advice
Be an industry game-changer. Be different and create meeting experiences that have an impact. Keep abreast and respond nimbly to the changing needs and wants of meeting planners and incentive organisers. Engage them by having a strong loyalty programme.

Nichlas Maratos is vice president of sales & marketing for Asia Pacific excluding China (Apec), Marriott International



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