Event Design

Trends Worth Watching

As 2015 draws to a close, Convene's editors consider five trends they will be watching next year.

At Convene, our inboxes (not to mention our heads) overflow with ideas, opinions, and information about the meetings industry. As we — Convene‘s five on-staff writers and editors — looked back at the past year, we asked ourselves this question: What’s one meeting trend you will be watching next  year? And you’re invited to add your own favorite, most-watchable trends in the comments section.


Michelle Russell, Editor in Chief:

c1-cover-p5d1.indd“A number of the 20s in Their Twenties honorees who contributed to our January issue said that one of the things that excites them most about the meetings industry is the intersection of technology and face-to-face events. In that vein, I’d like to see more organizations embrace technology (through an app or online platform) as a way to extend the learning that takes place on site at a conference after that event ends.

“It’s something that struck me when I interviewed learning experts for our September issue cover story: The one-and-done model has serious shortcomings when it comes to making what we learn at a conference stick when we’re back at our jobs. We need reminders and a way to continue the insightful conversations we had at the event in order to make positive changes in our work.”


Kate Mulcrone, Web Editor:

“I’m seeing a big change in the way education content is being presented at conventions. For example, the Cervical Spine Research Society took their poster sessions digital for the first time last year.

“Some of the top e-posters were presented at the podium in short sessions, and the digital content was available to those who weren’t at the meeting as well. Using an app or mobile-friendly site to organize session and poster content also frees up space in the exhibition hall for informal networking spaces, charging stations, and workshops and demonstrations.”


Christopher Durso, Executive Editor:

cover1“Our June 2015 cover story on sleep deprivation — making the case that many (most?) meetings and conferences start too early and run too late, to the detriment of attendee concentration and engagement — helped crystallize a notion I’ve been forming not just in the nearly eight years I’ve been covering meetings for Convene but in the more than 20 years I’ve been attending them: The average meeting is overscheduled.

“There’s just too much going on — too much content, too many breakouts and workshops, too many receptions. I understand that in today’s unforgiving business climate, attendees are being pressed more than ever by their organizations to demonstrate the ROI of the meetings they attend, and in response planners feel compelled to provide more, more, more.

“But no one can take it all in, and it can be overwhelming to even think about trying. So the trend I’d like to see in 2016 and beyond is a movement toward tighter programs that, say, start at 10 a.m. and end at 3 p.m., and include select, well-chosen content that people might actually remember once they get home. That would make for a truly happy New Year.”


Corin Hirsch, Associate Editor:

“Sit-down dining has been on the outs, and in 2016, I’ll be curious to see just how casual food & beverage can get at meetings. I’ll be on the lookout for modern twists on street food and classic snacks (and drinks), such as chicken wings with gochujang, seaweed-dusted fries, blinged-out milkshakes, and wine in cans — plus increasingly eclectic forms of ’street food’ served inside venues. Paired with a round of beer pong, and you’ve got yourself a reception.”


Barbara Palmer, Senior Editor

Rendering of the ICC Sydney, now under construction

“For our July cover story, “The Inside-Out Convention Center,” we checked in with architects who talked about how the emphasis in designing convention centers has moved away from focusing on the buildings themselves to the people who will use them. Among the most refreshing results of the new design thinking is the infusion of natural light, fresh air, and green space.

“What I’m looking forward to seeing is not just how new construction is taking this wellness-centered approach, but how innovative renovations roll out, like the one nearing completion at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio. It will add acres of natural light, new open-air meeting space, and green space to the center. 

“In July, the Los Angeles Convention Center announced that an upcoming renovation will more than quadruple the 41-year-old center’s access to outdoor space and replace some exhibit space with an outdoor ballroom. And in November, the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority announced that its experimental Lawn on D — an interactive green space adjacent to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center —  will become a permanent fixture. Let the sun shine!”

Convene Editors