The Future of Events: Meetings with a Message

Attendees don’t want you to support a cause—they expect you to

Sometimes events are all fun and games, and while entertaining guests is an important part of a meeting, a study from Marriott and the PCMA Foundation found that attendees want more than amusement—they want meaning, too. 

Now more than ever, guests want to understand the values and issues that are important to a brand. But talk is cheap: They don’t want to just hear about it, they expect proof that organizations are acting on their word. In fact, 64 percent of consumers will not buy a brand’s products or services if the brand doesn’t align with the political or social issues they care about.

Now, your event might not be selling anything, but this trend highlights attendees’ desire to better understand your meeting’s values—and should those values connect with guests, you’ll boost loyalty, increasing the chance that they’ll attend and support future meetings. 

So, take a stand. Here’s how to make your meeting’s message shine through. 

1. Rally around one core message.

Be it taking a stance on a political issue, supporting a local organization or vowing to be eco-friendlier, focus in on one central message, and choose your words wisely. Blanketed, vague messaging can confuse guests, or worse, make your event seem wishy-washy. Be clear with your intention, and attendees won’t have to question what the event’s all about. 

2. Weave that message into every detail.

Once you have a message in tow, it’s time to show your dedication to it. You wouldn’t want to say you’re hosting a sustainable event without it actually being one—consistency is key. So think about how you can infuse your message into every detail of your meeting. If you’re deciding between two décor themes, for example, which one resonates better with the issue your event is supporting? The answer might be as simple as picking the color scheme that matches your cause’s colors.

The same kind of thinking should be the backbone of all event decisions, both what attendees see and what they don’t. How can your internal processes support your message, too? In our sustainable event example, maybe you host a paperless event or food waste is composted. Whatever the end result may be, being transparent about back-end operations will boost your credibility and prove to attendees that they can take you at your word.

3. Let attendees know their impact, too.

Just as attendees want insight into what you’re doing to better a cause, show them how their actions can cause change, too. For example, many refillable water stations at airports include a digital ticker that counts how many disposable plastic bottles were spared. 

If your meeting’s message doesn’t correlate with specific actions, consider donating a specified sum to a charity related to the cause every time an attendee exhibits positive meeting behavior: showing up to a session, arriving early or exchanging contact information at a Network event.

Interested in where else the meeting industry is headed? Learn more about Marriott and the PCMA Foundation’s study, “The Future of Meetings & Events,” and stay tuned for more on the future of meetings from Meetings Imagined.