Sensory accessibility is next big thing in event design

Mike Fletcher reveals the short-term future trends of event design as forecast by Lime Venue Portfolio’s Meeting of the Future study.

Sensory accessibility is set to become a key focus for meeting planners according to recent research carried out by Lime Venue Portfolio.

The Meeting of the Future study comprises six months of focus groups and data from over 30 industry sources. It was undertaken in response to planners who are increasingly looking to understand what is coming next for events, not in a decade’s time but more immediately, in the next three to five years.

Findings show that sensory accessibility will move further up the event design agenda as more traditional accessibility solutions, such as ramps, wider aisles and allocated parking spaces, become a hygiene factor rather than an event USP.

Simultaneous sign language and audio captioning will make content more accessible while live translation technology will appeal to more international audiences.

However, neurodivergent conditions such as autism, ADHD and dyslexia also have a significant impact on a person’s ability to engage with traditional event design such as crowded, noisy theatres or interactive networking.

Quiet rooms and sensory-friendly environments for neurodiverse attendees, plus creches for working parents and exercise rooms for anyone wishing to take time out from the show floor and fit in a workout, will all become more commonplace.

Onsite content streaming is also highlighted as an emerging trend, rather than simply broadcasting to a virtual ‘at-home’ audience.

Again, this relates to making content more accessible to those in attendance who may not wish to sit in a large, crowded room. Instead, anyone will be able to access what’s happening on various stages via screens placed in less intimidating, communal spaces around the venue.  

The Meeting of the Future also flags the inclusion of workspaces at events for companies looking to blend office work with meetings and event objectives. It underlines an evolving trend to bring remote workers together at events and recreate ‘watercooler’ moments within the traditional meeting environment.

Unsurprisingly, the study further predicts that events will continue to reach an ever-expanding digital audience.

Hybrid formats will provide virtual viewers with more behind-the-scenes content, speaker interviews and a different agenda. This will all be moderated by ‘emcee’ hosts in green-screen studios and recorded to provide on-demand content that increases the longevity of the event. 

Natural light, plus access to outdoor space and fresh air will remain important features of a conference, according to the study from the UK’s largest portfolio of venues. While event catering will continue to move towards plant-based options.

Finally, the intended legacy of individual events will grow in importance - be it charitable, local community targeted or through their messaging and content. While planners will build burgeoning communities around their activity and continue the conversations year-round until the next event.

“The findings from the Meeting of the Future point towards a really responsible industry that is taking subjects such as sustainability, inclusion, diversity and accessibility seriously. If only half of the potential we’ve seen comes true, we’ll be looking at some incredible events to come,” says Jo Austin, Sales Director at Lime Venue Portfolio.

To see more about what the Meeting of the Future has in store, watch the video below: 

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