Shackman Associates DMC Discusses 2014 Meeting Trends

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The James New York
The James New York

Founder of Shackman Associates New York, Karen Shackman has been in business almost 25 years as a destination management and event planning company. We spoke to her about shifting trends in New York and some of the interesting programs she puts together for her worldwide client base.

Seeking to stay ahead of the curve, Shackman’s office sent out an overview of six meeting trends in 2014, which are listed below. We called Karen to delve a little deeper into these trends.

“What we are finding is, and we work with companies coming from all over the world, there are certain industries in certain countries which seem to be ahead of the curve in trying to create much more lifestyle or experiential programs for groups,” she says. “So we constantly on the search to find new things to offer people, whether we’re finding rooftop gardens in New York, or driving Ferraris.”

According to Shackman, clients are still very much negotiating on rates, “which I don’t think will ever go away,” she says. Annual meetings are typically being booked at least a year out, but for pop-up meetings and incentives, she’s seeing a very short window of time between the the decision-making process and date of arrival.

“We’ve seen a little bit of a change in demographic and industry, and based on that, we’re seeing a change in the type of hotels they’re meeting at,” explains Shankman. “Obviously the more young demographic, the more tech-oriented demographic, or the beauty and creative worlds, they are looking for hotels in the funky trendy neighborhoods. Those would include downtown Manhattan in the Meatpacking District and the Williamsburg area in Brooklyn.”

Screening rooms are becoming popular due to the demand for more interesting group venues, plus they provide good value and typically excellent A/V and projection.

We asked Shackman about Millennial travel behaviors, and if she’s seeing any challenges planners are having trying to cater to various age groups in one program.

“It does create challenges in a way because they have very different immediate needs,” she answers. “Some of them, because of the rise in mobile devices, have a tremendous amount of information at their fingertips, so it is a challenge to come up with things that keep them engaged.”

Here are Shackman Associates’ view on “Hospitality Trends in Destination Corporate Meetings,” with commentary provided by Karen and her team:

Luxury, Sensory, Convenient Art

Destination meeting planners have been seeking hospitality options that reflect their attendees’ own personal senses of style, and New York City’s hotels are responding with high-end art on the property. In some cases, art is being directly commissioned by the hotel. For example, The Archer Hotel, which is scheduled to opened shortly, will feature Brooklyn-based artist Thomas Broadbent. His show’s overview reads: “The perception of scale in this work has created a metaphor for the attainment of knowledge, depicted as a stack of books with a ladder to climb.”

I also love what The James Hotel is doing. Thanks to in-house curator and artist Matthew Jensen, the hotel features a very unique travel-inspired art collection. He has also worked with the collective Artists Space in SoHo to devote each of The James’ 14 floors to an emerging artist. It’s like having a art gallery in every hall throughout the hotel.

And perhaps no hotel is best suited for hospitality art than the Kitano New York. Bearing the same name as the famous museum in Japan, the hotel features permanent pieces throughout the mezzanine and bronze sculptures by Fernando Botero. It also has launched an “Artist in Hospitality” program.

Furthermore, art studios in SoHo are becoming exciting luxury venues for galas because their unique design elements often include hip furniture for a lounge feel and garage door fronts that help make it an open-air event.

Screening Rooms Instead of Board Rooms

Hotels are taking notice of the explosive growth in film events in New York and and have incorporated beautiful screening room venues into their list amenities for both film festivals and corporate meetings. This is an especially hot trend at the boutique that have opened in Brooklyn.

In addition to the screening room, hotels have developed multiple, adjacent rooms that accommodate receptions and cocktail hours. You don’t need to be showing films to make a screening room a major component of your next corporate or incentive meeting. With the latest digital technology, they are ideal for interactive presentations and Q&As.

Evocative Meeting Rooms

Designed and wired to inspire creativity and optimize productivity, these venues feature a state-of-the-art A/V systems, comfortable luxury furnishings and highly versatile decor to quickly get attendees in the mood to innovate. In some cases, they feature corner windows to optimize winter meetings and include multiple couches and breakout rooms

Interactive Private Technology

While there is continuing debate on how to use social media during business components at conferences and large association meetings, we are seeing a trend that creates a hyper-intelligent, private system to deliver very targeted results.

The key is to provide moderators with more control over questions, answers and even who gets asked the questions. With this kind of technology, association meeting attendees can now ask unlimited questions, and moderators can quickly filter out ones that don’t make sense or disrupt the flow. Furthermore, because speakers can clearly see the questions being asked, they do not get lost among the noise of status updates.

Exporting data into a spreadsheet or PDF format is now a one-click process. Moderators and speakers can also create components for live polling, discussion capture and event feedback. And finally, we are seeing an opportunity to run meetings without requiring attendees to download apps that might work differently on the iPhone versus a Galaxy.

Offsite Experiential Luxury

Younger destination meeting attendees don’t want tours and instead seek experiences. For adrenaline junkies, we found a popular option close to New York that puts them behind the wheel of a Ferrari F430 or Lamborghini Gallardo. Attendees can drive three laps and hit the last straightaway at high speeds in one of these two spectacular vehicles and get their photo behind the wheel.

The new Russian- and Roman-inspired baths that accommodate meeting groups are a huge departure from the tech-driven team-building games, but some old fashioned hedonism has lots of appeal to younger attendees seeking a break from being wired 24/7. One Roman Bath in Tribeca features electricity-free villas and bathing coaches that hand-pour olive oil, red wine, or cava upon request. The hottest dipping pools are 107 degrees and the cold plunges are quite refreshing icy at 50 degrees.

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