It’s April 2022, and most travel and meeting managers are scrambling to get people back to the office. Covid restrictions are being lifted daily and senior executives are looking to create a renewed sense of connection amongst colleagues and around the company’s mission. They want to do this to combat all time high attrition and get momentum in light of recessionary fears. Nowhere can this be achieved better than getting everyone back to the office.
However, reality has changed quite a bit in the last few years. A significant share of workers are permanently remote, and the rest are committing to partial attendance. Offices are expected to run less than 30% utilized in a best case scenario. Unfortunately, real estate and long-term leaseholds are not as fluid. This has left millions of square feet vacant or underutilized. Meanwhile, traditional meeting and event venues are also compressed and difficult to secure for meetings in 2022.
This confluence of factors has created an enormous shift of meetings and events — to the office. As reported by the NY Times, there are reports of widespread initiatives around onsite experiences for teams including expert crafted food, art installations, and entertainment. Travel tools are being used to bring teams to the destination. But organizing the meetings itself, booking dining and activities, and securing room blocks continues to be a highly fragmented and painful process. Current tech platforms only link to the customers’ internal meeting spaces period. That just sustains the current fragmentation model because what about catering meals, snacks, off site restaurants, etc.
To counter this fragmentation, we strongly believe that the ideal technology needs to become a unified meetings hub for onsite, offsite, and hybrid meetings. It should enable customers to load in their office locations and connect their onsite food services, catering teams, in-house teams or outsourced catering providers. Ideally an employee can login, pick from a pre-formatted onsite meeting package (or build one from scratch) and the system connects all the dots. Invites are sent out and attendee information is collected ie. food restrictions, travel requirements, vaccine cards, etc. The user can then select the appropriate office locations for their event and these requests are routed to the onsite food services provider who can respond with details and pricing. Discussions, modifications, and approvals should all occur within the platform. The right virtual tools can then be connected to the meeting to create a hybrid meeting experience. Offsite private dining and activities as well as hotel room blocks can be sourced and booked all in the same platform. The end result is a total solution for small hybrid meetings eliminating the fragmentation scenario. .
As small hybrid meetings continue to take the lion share of volume in 2022 and beyond, the inclusion of onsite meetings is critical to the future. Travel and meeting managers should address and embrace this opportunity with open arms.