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14 Meeting Trends We Need to Let Go

Is anyone else in the swing of spring cleaning? There’s something so refreshing about opening your windows, digging into your closets, and making room for new and exciting things. Now is the perfect time to cleanse our collective corporate and meeting planning bag of tricks, too! 

While some tactics and ideas have stood the test of time, there are plenty that really need to be retired. For me and the rest of the 360DG team, it’s time the meeting trends in this article ride off into the sunset. Luckily, we’ve also provided guidance on what to do instead. Giddyup!

1. Falling for the Latest Pinterest Fad

While we’re all about staying on the cutting edge, blindly adopting new trends seldom works well. While being inspired by what you see on social media isn’t a bad thing, try not to get your heart 

set on something that might not work for your audience or your budget. Engaging a DMC partner who will build a program around you and your needs is vital.

2. Polyester Tuxedos as Event Staff Attire

It’s hot in Texas! Even in temperate climates, a tuxedo often feels stuffy rather than classy. Strike the right aesthetic note and keep everyone comfortable with something more casual but still uniform for a professional feel.

3. Farewell, Photo Booths

Thanks for all the memories! While they’ve served us honorably, no one gets excited about a photo takeaway anymore. Again, providing your attendees with an experiential moment is crucial. Interactive photo stations with custom 3D backdrops, swings, ball pits, LED light cubes, or 360 photo booths are all far more engaging options. Planning a beach event? Get a VW photo bus! Hollywood theme? Change it up with a red carpet ManiCam. 

Culinary Creativity: Reinventing the Meeting Menu

4. Boring Food Stations

When you want to wow your group at your next meeting or corporate event, remember: It’s all about the experience! Give your attendees what they’re hungry for by adding unique desserts like LED cotton candy or action food stations that enable them to engage with the culinary process. Instead of the same old bar, try to find an option that reflects the culture of your destination and serves custom drinks made with local flavors.

5. Bye Bye, Buffets

Let’s be honest — we can do better! No one wants to start or end their day standing in line waiting to serve themselves food. While the buffet has served us well, we have innovative options now. Work with your caterer or DMC to explore interactive or hanging food displays. For group meals, synchronized service or a family-style dinner of plated meals always make a grand impression.

Decor: Ditch the Predictable

6. Let’s Nix the Spandex

Did reading that last word give you an 80’s flashback? Same. While Spandex chair covers might seem like a cost-effective way to upgrade your seating, they typically cost the same as the higher-priced options once labor is factored in. Using stretchy linens to achieve a futuristic look is also passé. If you want custom, modern seating, consider ghost chairs or Chiavari Chairs with interchangeable seat cushions.

7. Filling a Ballroom with a Sea of Banquet Rounds

Nothing is more boring in a boxy ballroom than endless round tables. After all, variety is the spice of life! Mix up your layout with rounds, rectangles, squares, and smaller 2-tops or bistro tables for a more interesting look. In addition to incorporating different shapes, try varying the heights by pairing low pub-style tables with rectangular dining tables bordered by lounge vignettes. This gives a space depth and dimension. Plus, you can incorporate some linenless options to save on costs!

CSR for the Win: Recently, we had a client purchase two lounge sets (a couch, two armchairs, two coffee tables, end tables, and pillows) instead of renting them. Once their event wrapped, 360DG managed the process of donating the pieces to a local shelter! Sharing the love is always in style.

8. Monochromatic Events

In addition to the monochromatic look feeling a bit stale, we also would like to bid adieu to one-note events. Try to work in some variety and dimension into everything you do, and remember: Think about the attendee experience first!

9. Printed Departure Notes

Has anyone ever kept one of these to hang on their fridge? I didn’t think so. In addition to skipping the material waste, following-up digitally also enables you to make a more customized impression. Use your meeting app to send a push notification wishing attendees a safe ride back to the hotel or letting them know recovery kits can be found in their rooms on their return.

Inclusive by Design: Tailoring Events for Everyone

10. Assuming Attendees Drink Alcohol

From religion to health concerns to simply wanting to avoid a hangover during a busy program, there are plenty of reasons your attendees might appreciate non-alcoholic beverage options. Including a mocktail as a signature drink is a great step. If you’re planning a wine or beer tasting, make the activity optional or provide alternative tastings of non-alcoholic drinks (coffees, teas, smoothies, infused waters). Or, take drinking out of the occasion completely by hosting food pairing stations instead, where attendees learn to prepare food like sushi or dumplings and pair them with different sauces or toppings.

11. Processed Snack Foods

Nothing makes me hungrier than a long meeting or networking session. But if you’re like me, you want something a little more wholesome than a bag of potato chips or a cookie to sink your teeth into. Offer whole-food snacks like fruits, vegetables, and high-protein options that will keep folks fuller longer. A smoothie bar is a great option for an afternoon pick-me-up, and the ingredients can be customized to suit most allergies and dietary restrictions.

12. Appealing Only to Extroverts

In the world of meetings, conferences, and incentive trips, we encounter many extroverts. However, sticking to the old-fashioned model of rigid, one-size-fits-all activities and events just doesn’t cut it anymore. You don’t want anyone to feel burnt out or overwhelmed during your program, so offer various activity options that appeal to a wide range of interests and social styles. For those whose batteries are fueled by the outdoors, solo hiking, kayaking, or surfing lessons are a great option. To help recharge those who are easily overstimulated by crowds or group activities, offer spa treatment vouchers so they can get the relaxing solitude they need. This approach allows each participant to tailor their experience based on their interests, resulting in higher engagement and overall satisfaction.

13. Physical Directional Signage

While simple, directional signs are helpful, get even more granular and interactive to start everyone off on the right foot. If you’re using a meeting or conference app, incorporate floor plans and diagrams of spaces so attendees can self-guide to where they need to go. You can even push these helpful features to their LED wristbands or name badges. Most venues also offer digital and interactive signage so folks never feel like lost lambs (or herded sheep.)

Harmony in the Hustle

14. Planners Not Prioritizing Self-Care

We all know the realities of our industry — it frequently attracts those who play hard and work even harder. Planners are often asked to put on a flawless event with a smile despite enduring late nights, managing countless daily crises, or sweating the small stuff no one else would even think of. Be sure you’re allowing time for yourself to unwind and recharge, especially after a busy program!

Speaking of self-care… We love what we do, but that doesn’t mean we need to sacrifice our well-being to do it! At 360DG, we feel passionately about enabling our employees to take the time they need when they need it. We offer generous PTO, mental health days, and a robust employee appreciation program. Oh, and guess what? We’re hiring! Check out our careers page.

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