Across the country, meeting professionals have predicted many trends that will pervade the planning process this year. In Chicago, we're focusing on five trends that stand out among the rest.
1. COLLABORATIVE SPACES TO ENCOURAGE INTERACTION
This year, networking will be a big focus in Chicago. Expect to see informal set-ups like couches grouped together, whiteboards on wheels to easily move wherever attendees need them, technology hubs near exhibit floors and lounge-like "coffee shop" spaces. (Read more about how to encourage attendee interaction
2. HEALTHIER FOOD OPTIONS
In 2013, a huge culinary trend will be the focus on nutrition and health, as it's been dubbed "the year of the vegetable" — this will translate into catering and menu offerings that center around fresh vegetables and produce, gluten-free options, vegetarian selections, locally sourced fare and low-calorie dishes.
3. MORE ACTIVE TEAM-BUILDING OPTIONS
Not only will catering and food options focus more on health-conscious offerings, but non-meeting activities will take a more active turn as meeting professionals plan outings that get groups moving. A few examples: City Running Tours
, PGA-instructed golf lessons
, winter ice skating in Millennium Park
(a sport that combines lacrosse, hockey and basketball with bumper cars).
4. INCREASED TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Technology reigns supreme in 2013 as more and more meetings go high-tech. This includes more streaming media offerings, increased use of hashtags for events via websites like Twitter and Instagram, encouraging employees to check into their meetings via Foursquare and the increased use of mobile apps for attendees
5. GOING GREEN BECOMES A BIGGER PRIORITY
Meeting professionals have long enjoyed green meeting spaces and technologies, but this year will see much more of a focus on these elements. In Chicago, this includes selecting LEED-certified buildings like McCormick Place, hosting events on green rooftops, planning meetings at green museums like The Field Museum, booking rooms at Green-Certified hotels and providing plenty of information on public transportation for attendees. (Read a few examples of how Chicago is committed to going green
and how other meeting professionals hosted socially conscious meetings in Chicago
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