COVID-19 Safety Update by Explore Minnesota

2019 Meeting & Event Trends

By Megan Diaz, Senior Business Development Manager, Minneapolis Northwest Tourism

In the ever-changing world of events, it is important for corporate meeting, conference and event planners to constantly be looking ahead and anticipating attendees’ needs and desires. Every year, new trends emerge, presenting both challenges and opportunities. Here’s what planners can expect in 2019 and a few tips for maximizing planner’s resources and executing an event that leaves a memorable impression on attendees.


1. Today’s workers want shorter meetings and more time with their families.

Busy career folks want to spend more time with their families, so it’s important for planners to find creative ways to pack impactful activities into shorter time frames. Consider coordinating a panel with experts who bring different perspectives to a topic. This results in a well-rounded discussion boiled into one block of time. Another family-friendly consideration is to start your event on a Sunday night at a fun, memorable location, allowing attendees to bring the family with them to enjoy a pre-conference weekend at the destination.


2. Tech is still king.

From registration to agendas to networking, integrating technology into many aspects of an event is here to stay. Mobile technology is becoming more prevalent, especially apps, as attendees are preferring things to be simple, streamlined and high-tech. Putting your event together directly in an app ensures attendees can register and take pre-event surveys directly from their phones. It is also becoming more common for QR codes to be placed on name tags so attendees can connect via their phones rather than collecting business cards. Consider integrating mobile technology into the meeting space, too. There are tons of free resources for conducting interactive mobile polls and soliciting questions from attendees.


3. Face Time isn’t face-to-face time.

While logistics are becoming more and more digital, virtual meetings are becoming a thing of the past. The digital conference trend is waning as the model is transitioning to more on-site events that are interactive and focus on in-person team and relationship building. While virtual meetings can still be beneficial for smaller groups and international teams—and can often be a cost-effective option—research shows that they result in low engagement and retention.


4. Ditch the conference room for a unique venue.

Getting out of the traditional office or ballroom and into unique venues is a simple way to shake things up and let your team connect in new ways. In Minneapolis Northwest, a Topgolf location recently opened in Brooklyn Center. It’s the perfect place to host a corporate meeting or event for large or small groups. WhirlyBall Twin Cities in Maple Grove is another fun off-site location with a full restaurant and bar. WhirlyBall is a unique “sport” that combines basketball, hockey, lacrosse and bumper cars.


5. Change the structure.

You have likely heard of it: the unconference. It is not a new format, but it is quickly becoming extremely popular. There is an element of intrigue baked in since there isn’t a full agenda for the day or weekend until attendees essentially create it. Pre-plan one engaging topic to drive attendance, but crowdsource additional topics, facilitators and information directly from attendees ahead of and during the event.



1. Connect with the meeting location’s local DMO or CVB.

Once you’ve picked a city for your meeting, conference or event, connect with the local CVB or DMO. In my role, it’s our job to provide planners with information about hotels, facilities, attractions, restaurants and activities that will best fit their group—all while staying in budget. And best of all, we’re a free resource.


2. Stretch your budget with financial assistance.

Not only can CVBs and DMOs connect you with the right people and places but many of us provide financial assistance. Minneapolis Northwest Tourism offers an event assistance fund. Ours is unique in that planners can apply it to anything associated with the event, including transportation, lodging or activities. This is great for nonprofits and association groups with limited budgets. To find out more about our assistance fund or our area, complete the short form below and we'll send you our Meeting Planners brochure packed unique event and team-building venues in the Minneapolis Northwest.


3. Refer to testimonials and referrals.

These first-hand accounts provide credibility and help ensure a successful event that’s tailored to your specific needs. It helps to put your mind at ease before committing to a location, venue or vendor.

Complete the form below to receive your FREE Meeting Planners brochure packed with unique venues to make your next event a huge hit!