3 Pivotal Trends That Will Shape The Future of Gathering

As humans, we are social beings. We like to spend time together and have been doing so for Millennia in places of worship, pubs, clubs, conferences, dinners, and events. Even the neanderthal cavemen gathered around campfires! As such, gathering is a crucial part of our basic “DNA.”

There is, therefore, no doubt that we will find ways to fulfill that need and gather again once the current pandemic is over. At The Room, we have been reflecting on what post-pandemic gatherings will look like. We believe that three trends will fundamentally shape how we will gather around the world in a post-COVID future.

Historically, conferences have been focused on content — characterized by one-way communications from influential “experts” on stage to the audience. We believe that in the future, content alone will no longer determine what a great conference is. Content is fast becoming a commodity — just think — how many free webinars have you been invited to in the last 2 weeks alone? This trend will continue post-COVID — content will be delivered to audiences in the comfort of their homes.

Instead, conferences will focus more on bringing people together to genuinely connect with each other around shared interests. Democratized, Peer to Peer discussions will be the flavor and not the one-dimensional stage speeches and panels we had grown accustomed to. There will be much more time at the gatherings for networking, long lunch breaks, and evening events filled with music and entertainment. Conferences will explicitly enable socializing so that attendees can form the authentic relationships and bonds needed to build social capital and foster tangible, valuable collaboration.

One of our mantras at The Room is that “Constraints drive innovation”. We believe that a new era of smaller gatherings of no more than 10–15 of like-minded people will emerge for two key reasons. First, the world will be cautious as it opens again and health regulations will prevent gatherings of more than 50 people. Second, post-COVID, people will want to create deeper and longer-lasting bonds with fewer people instead of shallow engagements with many. We will see a rise in experiences like “salons” on key topics over a 3-hour dinner or 2-day retreats with a few people. There will be a focus on quality over quantity and depth over shallow engagement within curated events.

People have always convened at more ‘permanent’ physical spaces like the local pub or the country club. Today, businesses that people typically used to gather like restaurants, clubs, and even retail stores are being forced to jettison their long term commercial real estate leases. As such, businesses will become more risk-averse and avoid being tied down to long term commitments, instead, they will set up spaces temporarily to test market demand and operate so that they can pivot quickly in case another outbreak occurs.

We predict a rise in temporary “pop up locations” — restaurants set up for just a week, country clubs just for a weekend, and stores for only a month around locations and spaces in different cities. The popular early adopters of this model are Rapha Cycling Club which brings its community together at pop-up clubhouses in temporary spaces around the world,

In line with these trends, this is how we will change the way we gather as a community.

At The Room, we look forward to enabling you to host your own intimate gatherings through the infrastructure we have built. However, we will also curate a few intentional and personalized events (once we can safely gather people) for you to connect with each other and enable you to build the social capital you need.

For example, we’re planning an intimate gathering at a New York City loft with Daily Show host Trevor Noah to cap off a weekend event in New York with Room members from all over the world. Room members from across the globe will also convene in Los Angeles, California, for our first Room Global Summit. At this summit, don’t expect keynote addresses; instead, you’ll connect over discussion-provoking breakouts enhanced with an abundance of experiential lunches, dinners, and social events designed to provide the time needed to forge strong, authentic bonds.

We have also planned an upcoming trip to Havana for about 15–20 people to engage in a guided immersion into Cuba’s eclectic cultural, culinary, artistic, and musical treasures. We are also collaborating with Richard Branson’s team to co-create a leadership retreat for just 40 Room members on Necker Island — his private oasis in the British Virgin Islands. Space will be limited to interested members seeking the ultimate small group gathering to form lifelong bonds.

Necker Island

Finally, we are looking forward to inviting you to The Room’s “clubhouses.” These are spaces where members can gather in multiple locations around the world. Initially, the Clubhouses will be temporary pop-ups where members can socialize, build relationships, experience cool entertainment, and even host their own intimate gatherings. Pop-up clubhouses may last as little as a weekend or as long as a month or two. As we start to see large clusters of members in key cities, we might make some of these clubhouses permanent. Our goal is to remain agile while enabling members to have access to intimate spaces where they can build relationships with each other

This is just a glimpse of what the future of gathering will look like in The Room. We recognize that now more than ever, community and belonging are critical to accelerating our missions.

We are on the precipice of a new day in how the world meets, listens, learns, and leads. We can’t wait to see you in The Room and in-person.

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