Clever Carly Breaks Down the 2017 Meeting Trends With Staying Power


Well, hello there, Meeting Planners, lovely to see you again! Today's topic: meeting trends and how to decipher them. From food and fashion to Pokémon and Pantone, there was certainly no shortage of trends to try in 2016—and 2017 is looking like it will follow suit. Luckily, I, Clever Carly, have sorted the helpful from the overdone for you! These are the trends with staying power in 2017.

Try Before You Buy

One of the hardest parts of our job is planning events in cities where we’ve never been. In 2016, a handful of innovative cities and venues began using augmented reality to help meeting planners scope out some far-out digs ahead of time—without the plane ticket. Virtual Discovery LA, the interactive portal launched by the city’s tourism board, invites planners to explore locations all over Tinseltown and beyond, whooshing you through the streets in just a few clicks. Expect more cities to follow suit.

Going Live (With or Without Eyeballs)

Sure, live video remains an indispensable (and cheap!) format for bringing attendees together from far and wide—but pulling it off isn’t always easy. Bad lighting and angles, as well as camera-shy speakers, can make live video at meetings and events look pretty unprofessional, not to mention hard to pay attention to. One amazing alternative that’s cropped up is Facebook’s Live Audio, which does away with the video component and just gives you voice. Way less intimidating for most—plus, audio-only formats dodge bandwidth issues certain to plague live video events, and now they’re just as shareable. Don’t read my lips: This is a win-win.

Team Building With Purpose

Experiential meetings—those that highlight compelling experiences, hands-on learning, adventure and team building—are on the rise. One way to do it: If you’re hosting your meeting in a tropical location, give your attendees a snorkeling lesson, and then reinforce the experience by introducing them to cuisine, music and art that reflects the destination. To really get the bang for your buck, your location should have something to do with the content of the meeting. So wolfing down those conch fritters seaside could actually add value and understanding if you’re trying to forge a new market in the Caribbean.


When President Obama wanted to bring together innovators for a discussion of technology and action, he took a cue from South by Southwest—and created South By South Lawn. The hybrid event was billed as a “festival of ideas, art and action”—and you can follow the White House’s lead for your own event.

These events have a formula: Bring together the most innovative and inspiring people and brands in media, science, tech, art, business, etc., in a cross-section of creative spaces and events—then add attendees. It allows these brands and ideas to engage with your guests in unprecedented ways. 

Festivalization is also a successful response to something we all know: When your event isn’t 100 percent very serious 100 percent of the time, you’re bound to be more engaged when serious business time does come around. If the attendees are allowed to have fun and be stimulated in different ways, their gratitude will shine through when it’s really time to get down to business.


Values by the Bite 

We all know that having healthy foods—organic, vegan, paleo—at events has long been a great way to promote healthy lifestyles among your attendees and show you are “with it” on food trends. Gold star. But planners aren’t stopping there anymore. Putting extra thought into the kinds of foods offered, and their surprisingly delectable pairings, can channel your company’s emphasis on creativity and openness to unorthodox solutions. So maybe that honey and hot sauce on the fried chicken biscuits isn’t just tasty. Maybe it’s downright miraculous.

Check back in two weeks for more helpful tips. You can find me on, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Until then, happy planning! 

Always your guide, 

Clever Carly