Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

February 17 2014

Futurecast: 20 Predictions For Meetings in 2020

By David McMillin



There is only one constant in the meetings industry: change.

A new generation of attendees and exhibitors continues to push the evolution of the industry in new directions, and planners and suppliers alike are outlining strategies for success in the future. To get a sense of what those plans should include, we caught up with the inaugural class of PCMA’s 20 in Their Twenties for a palm reading of the entire industry. As you look ahead to the meetings of tomorrow, consider these insights from some of the brightest young minds in meetings.

Rosa Garriga Mora, Meeting Designer & ROI Consultant, Independent Contractor

I believe that we will know much more about the business value of meetings. Meeting outcomes will be systematically measured, and a result, we will plan more effective meetings and they will gain greater strategic importance, as they will be seen as an investment rather than an expense.

Mindy Halpert, Conference Manager, The Consortium for School Networking

I see the "Unconference" becoming a more popular and requested part of meetings by 2020. An unconference is a participant-driven meeting where the agenda is created by attendees at the beginning of the meeting. This allows for flexibility of topics of interest in the moment, and sessions are often discussion based. I look forward to CoSN's first unconference in conjunction with the Annual Meeting next month!

Casey Carignan, Meetings and Events Coordinator, lia Sophia

With the economy still making a comeback and many budgets being cut for meetings and events, I predict that many companies will look for alternate resources and be expected to make more with less including taking on many tasks that previously would have been outsourced to third party companies.

Ryan Barth, Sales Manager, Visit Indy

The meetings industry must adapt in the next 5+ years. Organizations must begin integrating new meeting technology while knowing full well we must compete with it, too. Face-to-face meetings will never be replaced, but it's clear to me we need to aggressively market to attendees now more than ever before by highlighting up and coming destinations and promising the growth of one's career with each meeting.

Yasha Bergmann, Project Manager, uba GmbH

Advances in technology have and will continue to shape the way we do business. We can communicate faster, further and at any given time, but we are still struggling to define communication ethics and etiquette. That is something more experienced professionals are better at than Generation Y, which is why I believe that our industry’s newcomers and those already skilled in the art of meetings and events need to work together in order to use what we have efficiently and effectively.  

SEE ALSO: Busting 3 Big Millennial Attendee Myths

Shawn Cheng, Team Lead, Tourism Vancouver

I'm looking forward to see the "design the experience" approach into future meeting design and event marketing to destination selection or even ROI measurement. We are not just organizing an event/ meeting anymore. We are creating an environment and experience. Make our works meaningful, and that's the value we can offer as event/ meeting professionals.

Katie Dolan, Convention Services Manager, Ottawa Tourism

I strongly believe face-to-face will still be the number one reason why people meet. However, it will be complimented by an even stronger social media influence. I envision Twitter walls in every room. I have run quite a few Tweet-ups with PCMA over the past 3 years, and I am already seeing how they are gaining more and more traction. Moving forward, I see there being spontaneous Tweet-ups throughout the entire conference and more opportunities to 'Tweet-chat'. Other trends I see coming are incorporating music into more sessions, changing up the format of meeting rooms to be more conducive to interactivity amongst delegates, more sessions with moderators - not speakers, and an emphasis on physical activity during sessions. We're on the right track to making meetings even more insightful and beneficial for all, and it's an exciting time to be a part of it.

Vivian Fleet, Sustainability Officer, Metro Toronto Convention Centre

By the end of the decade I expect that the meetings industry will become significantly more sustainable and environmentally conscious for two reasons: clients want it and it makes increasingly more economic sense. Take for example the use of mobile apps. It is becoming easier and cheaper for meeting planners to provide information through apps, consequently facilitating the move to paperless events and notable savings on printing costs.

SEE ALSO: Does Going Green Really Pay Off For Hotels?

Rick Hyland, Exhibitor Services Supervisor, Orange County Convention Center

I think we will see a proliferation of interesting location-aware content-sharing technologies on exhibit floors and meeting rooms, specifically iBeacons and Gimbal Proximity Beacons. These technologies have the ability to reshape the way show management, attendees and exhibitors share information with each other at an event.

Alexis Kereluk, Manager, Association Relations, MCI Canada

The industry will see a shift in the way that sponsorship funds are acquired. As restrictions increase and budgets tighten, corporations are moving away from traditional exhibiting and sponsorship opportunities toward new ways of developing relationships and reaching their target markets. Enhanced technologies such as content dissemination, hybrid meetings and virtual engagement will be critical to securing sponsorship funds and will create additional revenue streams for associations.

Sam McNeill, Creative Director, Song Division

I think that by the end of the decade, there is going to be a greater harmony between technology, usability and interaction (both in-person and online). Five years ago, it felt to me as if the speed of technological advances in the meetings and events industry created a real division between generations, as well as feeling only accessible to higher budget events. Now what we are seeing and will continue to see are incredible apps, smartphones and tablets that are completely simplifying these incredible ideas, making them accessible to a broader range of attendees and therefore creating a larger sense of community within the meeting or event.

Elisa Sandoval, Sales Manager, Hotel Nikko San Francisco

By the end of this decade, the meetings industry will be greatly enriched. With more understanding of how meetings impact the world, how they enhance corporations as well as individual employees, and the unparalleled worth of face-to-face interaction, this industry will be taken to another level. I envision that our industry will be the catalyst for innovation beyond our imagination. Technology, meal preparation/concept, event design, virtual dialogue, and the list continues.  

Astrid Schrier, CMP, Meeting Manager, Association Headquarters, Inc.

I expect that the meetings industry will continue to evolve with the creation and implementation of new technology that can be used at meetings and allow for more virtual attendees at meetings. I do however believe that face to face meetings will continue to hold strong as the main avenue for networking and education for our attendees.

Kathleen Smith, Marketing Manager, etech events

By 2020, I think we'll see a full integration of the digital and physical spaces at events thanks to the speed of new technologies entering our industry. Data will drive a personalized, highly-connected experience for attendees. It'll help facilitate both education and peer-to-peer networking. We're already seeing the beginnings of this today!

Megan Tate, Manager - Event, Meeting and Travel Management, Petco Animal Supplies, Inc.

By the end of the decade I see face to face and virtual meetings continuing to grow and fulfill different needs. I don’t believe they will compete, but instead continue to enhance each other’s capabilities and scope of influence. I also anticipate that we’ve just barely scratched the surface on meeting technology; I think we’re going to see things that we never would have believed possible.

Marcela Torres Vargas, Director of Big Events, Mexico City Tourism Trust

Web tools and apps will allow the meetings industry to become more accessible with the implementation of virtual meetings; therefore, allowing to target to specific market niches and increasing the participation of people with disabilities. Additionally, these tools will simplify the exchange of information, reduce paper consumption and enhance communication efficiency. Ultimately, they will all have a positive impact on the meeting planner’s budget.

David Wagner, Meetings Manager, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Admittedly, my generation has an ever evolving attention span. In the not so distant future, meeting planners will need to adjust how content is conveyed. Gone are the days of three hour lecture style workshops and a more conversational education model will be established. Presenters will need training on how to be concise and to the point.

SEE ALSO: 4 Tips To Manage Your Multi-Generational Attendee Base

Rachel Walsh, Director of Meetings, Sentergroup

By 2020 I think the largest shift we will see is the widespread adoption of new technologies in the event space. Mobile apps will be standard for meetings of all types and printed program books will continue to wane in popularity. In addition, we should see the incorporation of virtual events within face-to-face meetings become more prevalent.

Alleeshia Williams, Coordinator, Meetings & Business Partnerships, Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)

The upcoming decade will consist less of ‘hunters’ at meetings and events and more 'farmers' who recognize the need to build relationships and sow the seeds for future success. This will allow events to not only be enjoyable to attend but also exemplify the importance of incorporating networking into each organization’s strategic plan.

Leslie Wong, CMP, Creative Account Manager, Blueprint Studios

Currently, there is an emergence of technology to complement and enhance virtual and face-to-face interaction. In the next decade, I see a more progressive version of virtual, moving into immersive 3D environments, not dissimilar to the technology Xbox has showcased for gaming. I could foresee the Internet of Things influencing meetings with 'smart’ meeting spaces developing. Think, meeting space that will adjust temperature automatically, or suggest the best time to take breaks, based on human data collected in the meeting space, and voice recognition features that will enhance the guest and planner experience.

This forward-thinking article was brought to you by Austin, Texas, a city committed to engaging and empowering emerging leaders. Click here to learn more about how Austin can create new opportunities for your attendees.

As the face-to-face industry evolves, Austin continues to stand at the forefront of innovation by leading new initiatives to support the new generation of meeting professionals. The support of the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Austin Convention Center helped these 20 leaders attend Convening Leaders 2014 and will continue to help fuel the early stages of their careers with discounted PCMA memberships and mentoring opportunities.

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