Behavioural science within meetings and events – that’s smart!

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

Our experts from NYS and Capita Travel and Events shared how they apply behaviour science to create smarter meetings and events at the Meetings Show 2019.

Jonti Dalal-Small, Head of Behavioural Science, first gave an overview on the ‘behavioural science toolkit’ and how it be used for a range of outcomes such as encouraging collaboration, reducing environmental impact and ensuring delegates are at their best. Given the impact of behaviours and organisational culture on travel, meetings and events, he applied this line of thinking to ways of improving the delegate experience.

“The power of behavioural science is using insights into how people think, feel and behave to create better outcomes,” explained Jonti. “It is a way to question how things have always been done. In applying psychology to meeting and events, the power of context should not be underestimated. Ultimately, we want to create an environment that encourages a discovery mindset, so people get the best out of their experience.”

Leanne Fowler, Director of Strategic Meetings Management, then examined the different types of meetings and how applying behavioural science in our understanding of context and behaviour can impact costs. By taking the companies’ Smarter working approach and assessing the data insight, it can be used to influence more positive behaviours, such as choosing the most cost-effective meeting locations.

“Meetings average 15% of the total costs so its important companies have visibility of the associated travel time and travel costs that form part of the total meeting cost or consider the alternatives,” Leanne highlighted. “It’s about understanding the different types of meetings so companies don’t always fall back to a default of face to face, or if that is the best option, taking a smarter and more considered look at everything from the location, timing and agenda to ensure it is as successful and cost-effective as possible.”

Leanne gave examples to show how the average delegate rate can fluctuate dramatically by location when considering total costs. For example, the average delegate day rate can be over 60% less in Bristol, Stoke-on-Trent or Leicester compared to London, but the good transport links means it is just as accessible to reach.

NYS’ Director of Events, Caroline Medcalf, then took this same approach with events:

“The agenda for events is changing as duty of care becomes more prominent. We should all be responsible for challenging the defaults and disrupting expectations. "We all have a duty of care. The days of the beige buffet have definitely gone; delegates expect more. Small changes, such as scheduling frequent breaks, yoga sessions, providing watercoolers and nutritional food all support this agenda and keep delegates mentally stimulated, so events are more effective in all aspects.”

The presenters offered their own tips and suggestions to work ‘smarter’, from collaborating with partners who are aligned with the business objectives to get the most from them and tactics for reinforcing behavioural change after the meeting/event, to making bookings in advance, considering where they are travelling from and arranging schedules, so travel is at off-peak and within working times.

Delegates asked their questions about the use of mobile phones and behavioural data, as well as how to maximise feedback to improve and measure success.

The Meetings Show, the two-day event held at London Olympia, welcomed hundreds of MICE-related companies, hotel and conference venues from around the world. There were a variety of seminars on different industry subjects, where visitors could gain valuable insight, best practice and tips.

Our Smarter working approach provides companies with a unique blend of in-house specialists to help them realise the importance of their delegates’ health, wellbeing and safety. Get in touch with our team today to understand how Smarter working can help you or why you shouldn’t settle for defaults.