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A Roadmap for Successful and Inclusive Meetings & Events in 2024

How to foster inclusivity in your events

In our increasingly diverse and interconnected world, the importance of hosting inclusive meetings and events is essential. By doing so, we create a safe space where all individuals, regardless of their backgrounds, abilities, or identities, can actively participate in the meeting experience. Such environments ensure that attendees are not only present but are also valued, heard, and respected. By including diverse voices, you can benefit from a variety of ideas and perspectives which all lead to greater innovation and success.  

Inclusive Trends in Meetings and Events

The landscape of meetings and events is constantly evolving, and inclusivity is at the forefront of this shift. Some of the most notable trends I’ve noticed recently include:

Multilingual Signage: Events are increasingly incorporating signage and materials printed in different languages to cater to diverse attendees, while also making everyone feel welcome.

Dedicated Spaces: Renewed emphasis on inclusivity has also encouraged venues to offer designated “Mother's Rooms” for lactating mothers, quiet spaces that often serving as “prayer rooms” or meditation spaces, and sensory rooms.

Accessibility: Planners are allowing ample time between sessions and breaks to facilitate smooth transitions for guests with limited mobility. 

Inclusive Services: Sign language interpreters are also becoming available for event sessions, and receptions are expanding their beverage options to include little to no alcohol cocktails and non-alcoholic beer options to ensure there’s something for everyone.

Ensuring Venue Accessibility

When researching or booking venues for inclusive events, planners should ask specific questions to guarantee accessibility. For example: 

  • Does the venue offer ramp access for the stage and risers?
  • Is the setup adaptable to accommodate people with mobility aids?
  • Is the location and destination LGBTQ+ friendly and welcoming?
  • For offsite events, are there accessible transportation routes to and from the venues?
  • Can the venue accommodate dietary restrictions and offer faith-based dietary needs (e.g. Kosher foods), if required?

Collaboration Is Key

To ensure every detail is meticulously planned and executed, collaboration between planners and venues is essential. Pre-convention meetings are instrumental to having a successful inclusive meeting or event. This will allow all parties to ensure that every detail is well planned and expectations are met. During this time, the venue staff can present how they will be advocates for every attendee. It will also allow everyone to talk through all possibilities and outcomes before arriving at the venue the day of the event.   

While pre-event surveys can be helpful, it’s recommended that a planner begins with identifying the primary audience and defining the conference’s goals. Tailoring the event to meet the diverse needs of each and every attendee is essential to creating a truly inclusive experience.

Additional Considerations for Inclusivity

Initiating discussions on inclusivity early in the planning process is critical, as it requires thoughtful strategy from beginning to end. Planners should also be mindful of attendees with specific sensitivities or needs, such as those prone to seizures, as lighting will need to be carefully considered. For individuals with chemical sensitivities, avoiding strong scents and chemicals is important to ensuring their comfort and well-being. 

Ultimately, hosting inclusive meetings and events is not just a trend but an integral part of modern event planning. By embracing inclusivity, planners create environments where diversity thrives, innovation flourishes, and everyone can participate fully by bringing their whole self to the event.

Kate De Master oversees sales and marketing at Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront which offers 951 guest rooms and well-appointed suites overlooking the St. Johns River. Prior to her current role, Kate held similar titles at Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor and Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago. As an experienced hospitality professional, Kate enjoys traveling with her husband Nick and exploring new destinations around the world. 

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