ADNEC’s the Hive new MICE destination


ABU Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) has revealed a new experience in the meeting and conference sector – The Hive. Offering 865 square meters of versatile space, the venue was designed as not just a space for hire but one that enhances the benefits of face-to-face engagement for its clients.

Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri, Group CEO of ADNEC, said: “Abu Dhabi’s rapid rise through the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) global rankings for the number of events hosted clearly shows its acclaim as a world-class MICE destination. Regardless of that success and recognition, ADNEC is not resting on its laurels. We are committed to developing and growing the conference and meeting sector. Among the key observations we have made at meetings was the insight that audiences are becoming increasingly distracted with traditional meeting formats.”

He added: “Our view is that one-way dialogue – where a presenter lectures an audience – is losing its ability to compete with the distractions of mobile technologies. The Hive is a significantly different environment yet one that complements the existing conference and event facilities at ADNEC. It also gives us the opportunity to fully align with our clients’ objectives and work together to enhance learning, engagement, innovation, networking, training and creativity.”

The Hive is an outgrowth of ADNEC’s Innovation Lab concept, a space originally designed with the objective of providing ADNEC staff with a place within their building to come together to exchange knowledge and to work on internal projects related to innovation.

Robin Miller, Director of Sales for Conferences and Events at ADNEC, said: “The objective was to create a space where everyone is welcome, and all ideas and problems are heard. There was a general understanding that ideas could be challenged. Mistakes could be made, and cross-departmental teams could discuss areas of mutual concern from different perspectives, all with the aim of identifying proposed solutions. These ideas are validated and new, refined iterations challenged through the same process.”

ADNEC realized that if its own meetings felt different in a different space, a client’s meeting or event would also result in a different experience.

Miller added: “It led to a major rethink on the part the venue plays in the outputs of our clients’ events, and how critical that space and experience is to all parties.”

To validate the theory, ADNEC allowed clients to use its Innovation Lab while observing the interactions. Each Innovation Lab session was followed by a survey.

Miller said: “We found that the number of attendees contributing to the conversation increased in the Lab, and so did the linger time.”

However, having established that the venue would be met with enthusiasm from the client base was only one rung on the ladder to climb. Before work on building The Hive commenced, the ADNEC team took into consideration various aspects, such as the colours in the rooms, the weight of the furniture and ways of deconstructing a regular meeting structure into something more free-flowing.

The result of ADNEC’s experiment is The Hive, which consists of an 80-seat auditorium informally named The Collaboratorium, and The Lab that offers 320 square metres of configurable space as well as three meeting rooms offset from the main area. Across the main hall, The White Rooms are a separate meeting area and comprise three meeting spots.

No two rooms are alike. Furniture varies and color palettes change. Even the textures of the floor, ceilings and walls differ from area to area.

Because survey results pointed to clients being wary of having to spend money on fitting out empty rooms and building their own infrastructure, the ADNEC team went to great lengths to make every accommodation it could think of available, including multiple display panels (up to 7x4m in size) and state-of-the-art sound and video systems. Floor-to-ceiling glass panels separate the rooms, and most of the eclectically colored furniture is on wheels so that attendees can personalize them as needed.

Furniture not movable, such as tables and chairs set up like swings, brings a different vibe. It is no longer a meeting – it is friends getting together to literally ‘get into the swing’ of sharing ideas. This illustrates ADNEC’s thoughts on deconstructing and rebuilding a venue.

Its reimagining of lunch and coffee breaks resulted in an area where attendees can ‘graze’ anytime they want. This ‘grab-and-go’ concept keeps meetings going when things may be starting to get interesting.

And because such a new kind of venue experience needs a different view of how a meeting should be conducted, ADNEC recognised that an understanding of the multitude of methods of managing meetings was an essential component of the experience of working in The Hive. This has led to the creation of the ADNEC Meeting Format Directory, which guides discussions between the venue and clients to ensure an enriched participant experience and enhanced outputs of events. To further develop this collaboration between venue and client, The Hive provides a dedicated Experience Manager to assist with all aspects of pre-event planning and of concierge services when the event is live.

One of ADNEC’s key messages about The Hive is “The space is here, the buzz is yours”, but the company has done no small amount of thinking on ways to keep the bees inside busy.

Al Dhaheri added: “ADNEC is keeping an open mind about who will use The Hive, and the many purposes it can fulfil. Truly, this is an experiment and disruption of the age-old meeting room concept, where we work with our clients to envision the future of face-to-face events.” — SG