Screenreader Navigation: Skip to Main Content

Planning Resources

Helpful Tips for Meeting Planners!

Duke event planning expert shares three trends from the pandemic that are here to stay

For more than 24 years, Diane Tighe, Area Director of Catering and Conference Services at the JB Duke Hotel, has hosted numerous worldwide groups at the trio of hotels owned by Duke University. Diane is lending her expertise to share three trends to consider before planning a conference or group event in 2022:

Trend #1: A conscientious, personalized approach is key. The pandemic accelerated a trend that was already gaining momentum prior to 2020 – creating a more personalized experience for event attendees. As larger groups begin to reconvene in 2022, providing color-coded wristbands creates an easy way for attendees to signal their individual comfort level with handshakes and social distancing (e.g. a green wristband would indicate “Yes, handshakes, please”). In addition to COVID-19 safety measures, trends around food and beverage consumption create opportunities for meal personalization. Medical conditions like Celiac disease are on the rise, and a new study conducted by OnePoll found that nearly half of Americans (47%) began eating more plant-based foods during the pandemic.

Trend #2: Hybrid meetings are here to stay. More than two-thirds of event planners think hybrid events will be more common in the future, but creating meaningful networking opportunities at hybrid events requires additional planning. One way to encourage networking is to create spaces (real, virtual and hybrid) for mini breakout sessions. Virtual attendees can join in-person breakout sessions via video conference and even serve as a “moderator” to help facilitate discussion. The primary goal is to create opportunities for virtual attendees to join the casual follow-up conversations that naturally flow from speaking sessions that they may otherwise miss as a virtual attendee.

Trend #3: Going green will be a vital part of group gatherings. Duke University has set an ambitious goal to become climate neutral by 2024, reinforcing the importance of campus-wide sustainability. This aligns with current preferences, with a new survey from Publicis Sapient finding that 58% of consumers say that the pandemic has caused them to think more about the environment. Examples of sustainable practices include relaying event-related messages digitally (minimizing signage), prioritizing vegetarian food options and serving food on biodegradable plates to reduce waste. Providing recyclable receptacles and creating opportunities for composting uneaten food are additional ways to reduce a group’s collective carbon footprint. If you are planning a department celebration, alumni dinner, or other gathering, visit to learn more about event and meeting spaces available at the JB Duke Hotel.