We've seen a shift in client needs coming out of the last couple of years with small meetings with fewer people have come back into play. Organizations are finding themselves in need of support for one-day meetings with less than 50 attendees. Here, we speak with Nikki McLain, Director, Account Management for Meeting Solutions & Venue Search and Nate Childress, Director of Sales, Meeting Solutions & Venue Search to understand how these can be successfully managed.
How do you define Simple Meetings?
Typically, we define it to mean meetings with 50 people or less, however recent surveys have defined small meetings as anything below 25.
How has the need for small meetings changed over the last few years?
The exorbitant costs of major events like trade shows, compounded by rapidly rising prices of travel, accommodations, and food and beverage make it difficult to justify committing a large percentage of an annual budget to a single flagship event. We went from needing to meet small because of Covid to now wanting to meet small.
The numbers increased because of pent-up demand for regularly scheduled small meetings but also because a lot of people who were planning big meetings have not gone back to larger-sized meetings yet. Small meetings allow for that type of personalized design. With smaller numbers, more time can be spent on educational meetings, with more focus on attendees and less general formatting. Customization is a key factor. Small meetings will continue because small means flexible, buildable, and compartmentalized.
What sort of services typically go into Simple Meetings?
Customization and duplication are much more manageable with small meetings; however, because you are servicing a smaller segment of the necessary population at each program, you will need to hold more meetings in general to service the same demographic. This makes booking a venue early a challenge, as smaller meetings more often mean constant venue searching. At BCD M&E, it’s why our Venue Search solution is key to sourcing a larger volume of events, with a shorter run-up time. Smaller programs are requesting availability very close to their meeting dates and require quick action to confirm details. Venue Search allows program managers to submit one or several events, which they can track through the sourcing process, leaving them time to spend on the actual event itself.
Finally, attendees and planners are looking to technology to elevate their experience. Event management websites that can help the attendees navigate their program's features and geography give the event a high-end, intimate feel and can keep the attendees away from the general swirl of leisure traffic at a hotel or other public venue.
What are three things planners should know about Simple Meetings?
Think outside the big box hotel and look for venues that cater specifically to small meetings, as they generally have programs and functions designed for these program sizes.
Take the meetings out of the city and into nature. Requests for destinations with wildlife components are on the rise as well. These venues often have team-building activities built in as well.
Incorporate wellness. RFPs requesting spa packages built in are also seeing an uptick with smaller meeting sizes. Again, this adds a wellness first/gratitude element that has become a priority for many companies.