The Future of Meetings: Flexible Event Spaces

Many meetings now require transformable venues—and these four planning tweaks can make it happen

Fixed seating? No, thank you. Long gone are the days where meeting spaces were one-size-fits-all. Today, events require adaptable venues with layouts that ebb and flow alongside a meeting’s agenda.

In fact, a report from Marriott and the PCMA Foundation, called “The Future of Meetings & Events,” predicted that 30 percent of all commercial office space will be considered “flexible”—in other words, easily adaptable to fit an event’s specific needs—by 2030.

For planners, this trend shows the importance of designing meetings with change in mind. Statistics show that a third of venue operators already have rooms equipped for a flexible setup, but should your meeting layout lean more fixed, here are four quick fixes that make for a transformable meeting space:

Find the right furniture: Lightweight pieces, furnishings on wheels and modular, buildable components can all be easily moved or adapted to switch up a room’s layout at a moment’s notice.

Go light on décor: Lots of design objects might look nice, but too many pieces can create a hassle and clutter in spaces that are ever-changing. So, stick with a décor style that eliminates frivolous design elements. Now, that doesn’t mean your meeting setup should be boring—just that ice sculptures on every table might not be necessary. 

Offer a variety of seating options: For venues that are less adaptable, try including varying seating options—think a combination of pod-style, lecture or soft seating. That way, even if the space isn’t physically changing, attendees can move around the room and experience the event from a different perspective.

Leverage technology: Similarly, immersive and sensory technologies, such as virtual or augmented reality, can transport attendees to another world—or at least offer up a transformative event experience that might not be available in your physical space.  

Interested in where else the meeting industry is headed? Learn more about Marriott and the PCMA Foundation’s research, and stay tuned for more on the future of meetings from Meetings Imagined.