Meeting and Conference Trends to Watch

The workplace. A daily blitzkrieg of strategies, meetings, deadlines, and people. The daily grind can wear on a team, and have a direct effect on productivity and a healthy bottom line. Off-site meetings and retreats allow time to reflect and reset the team, while strategizing and energizing them for the future. Here are three areas to focus on when planning your 2017 off-site meeting.

Create an Experience

Nearly two-thirds of the meeting planners polled in the Successful Meetings' "2016 Trends Survey" said the "need to create a compelling meeting experience" for attendees was one of the most important trends to follow in order to create effective meetings. (1) Lounge areas with comfortable seating, custom lighting, themed events, team building / bonding, and inventive food and beverage options are examples.

“At Airlie, we offer a variety of activities to promote group participation. In addition to a high ropes course, archery and sporting clays have become popular outdoor options. We have over 300 acres, so anything is possible. It’s a lot of fun to get creative with our groups and provide them with a special experience unique to their team,” says Carol Smith, Director of Sales and Marketing at Airlie.

Culinary programs are also extremely popular amongst our meeting planners. Groups split into teams and, with the guidance of an Airlie Chef, race against the clock to create a three-course meal. Each course is judged by our culinary panel to determine a winner, and the group completes the exercise by enjoying a relaxing meal together. Participants walk away with monogrammed aprons and a take-away from our own organic garden.



Healthy Food Options

This trend that has been in style for quite some and we don’t see it going anywhere, however the term “healthy” has expanded into a multitude of sectors that event venues have had to keep up with to stay in the game and keep planners happy. Offerings such as gluten-free, farm-to-table, locally-sourced, and organic have found themselves as more commonplace requests over the last three years.

While these foodie buzzwords oftentimes denote a higher price tag, our strong relationships with local purveyors in addition to our on-site organic vegetable garden allow us to work with a planner’s budget to offer healthy options during each meal.

Organic Garden Tomatoes

Salad with Whiffletree Farm Chicken and Organic Produce

Culinary Team in the Organic Garden

Incorporating Team Building and Bonding (Yes, they are different)

While team building activities are centered around skill-strengthening and trust exercises, team bonding events (think quarterly bowling outing) allow for employees to spend time together outside the office and share an experience. Consider combining the two to connect and empower your team even further.

Christine Comaford, NY Times best-selling author of SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together says the most productive group experiences do just that in an effort to help companies achieve their ultimate goals. “For example, when we train a team in the neuroscience of leadership, participants are all learning new skills to enhance their ability to perform both together and solo. And since we know that connection between human beings fosters improved performance, health, happiness and emotional engagement, we simultaneously incorporate team bonding. Team members bond powerfully when they create safety, belonging and mattering with one another, and when they have an emotionally engaging shared mission, vision and set of values.” (2)

Options range from scavenger hunts and races to culinary, artistry, even LEGO events. Add a wellness component with a garden or yoga theme.

Comaford says,“when you want to design the future together; forge a leadership code of conduct; refine mission, vision and values; or do any sort of learning/brainstorming/creation where helping the team to connect as human beings is essential for a positive business result."



Are you thinking about planning an off-site meeting or team building event for your group or organization? At Airlie, we offer a variety of programs that can be customized to fit your needs! Examples include:

  • Artist for a Day
  • High Ropes Course
  • LEGO Team Building
  • Wine Education
  • Compass Hunt
  • Stress Burner Yoga
  • Top Chef

    ...and many more! Download our Team Building Brochure for ideas and information.

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(1) Successful Meetings: The Top 6 Meeting Trends of 2016 /
(2) SmartMeetings: Team Building: Building and Bonding / 

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