Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

August 08 2016

3 Key Quotes That Will Shape The Future Of Meetings And Conventions

David McMillin

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Meetings, conventions, events, conferences, symposiums — all types of experiences share one trait: they’re changing. While the future holds plenty of uncertainties for meetings and conventions, leaders from the industry united at DMAI’s Annual Convention to look ahead. Here are three important quotes from Minneapolis.

1) “We have to learn how to maintain business in a world where there will be uncertainty.”

Martin Sirk, CEO, ICCA

We are living in a new normal marked by tragedy. As attendees read headlines of attacks in places from Orlando to Istanbul to Paris, the panelists discussed that we all must take extra steps to understand effective crisis management. Recent events are taking a serious toll on tourism, but the panelists pointed to the need to create a sense of calm in a world dominated by 24-hour breaking news reports and social media reports. “Acknowledge the fear is real, but you also must point to factual information,” Sirk said. “You have to get the balance right when communicating with your attendees.”

David DuBois, President and CEO, International Association of Exhibitions and Events, said that IAEE is supporting a new initiative to assemble a group of security experts that will meet with SMG, AEG and a range of venue operators to develop standards and guidelines to protect attendees. Read more about the initiative here.

MORE: Confronting The Realities Of Travel In The Terrorism Era

2) “The traditional housing block model is broken.”

Deborah Sexton, President and CEO, PCMA

Still solely using room nights to define the value of your group? That practice must come to an end. Some attendees use online travel sites to find the right hotel room at the right price, and others use alternative options like Airbnb and HomeAway. With that in mind, the panel agreed that convention organizers and destinations need to work together to create a more holistic view of each meeting’s economic footprint.

MORE: Will Airbnb’s New Ad Campaign Resonate With Your Attendees?

3) “If you want to own the education in your space, you have to deliver it in multiple ways.”

Martin Sirk, CEO, ICCA

Associations no longer have any kind of ownership of adult education. Sure, they may be able to offer continuing education credits, but there are so many more opportunities to learn in every profession. “An association used to be the place you went for knowledge,” Sexton said. “Now, you go wherever the knowledge is best presented and where you can meet up with thought leaders.”

“The competitive marketplace is changing,” Sirk added. “Destinations are looking at their own intellectual capital and creating their own meetings.”

So what does this mean for associations and societies? It’s time to elevate education— more online courses, more social media forums, more exclusive on-site sessions with speakers that won’t be found at other similar events. As destinations and for-profit competitors recognize the potential value of offering learning opportunities, associations will have to stay ahead of the curve with a 365-day engagement strategy.

What do you think the future holds for meetings and conventions? Share your comments below.

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