Some Trends We Didn’t Foresee

Here are some new developments in technology — possibly for events — that have caught our attention.

Author: Michelle Russell       

female news anchor in virtual newsroom

Hour One’s technology allows users to select from a range of 3D newsroom environments in which to place their virtual news anchor — who can be based on themselves. (Hour One via PR Newswire)

Michelle Russell headshot

Michelle Russell
Editor in Chief

For more than two decades, Convene has published in our November issue a compilation of data and industry perspectives in exhibitions, travel, and lodging. (We took a break from publishing a forecast during the pandemic for obvious reasons.) Over the years, we’ve tried to make this less of an almanac and more of a forecast, and we’ve folded event technology and the future of work into the mix.

This issue is a first — almost entirely dedicated to the forecast with no additional content. Except, in keeping with our forward-thinking theme, a snapshot of PCMA’s 2024 events around the world in PCMA Today, and There’s a Meeting for That, about an event focused on the future of ground travel, as well as our sponsored content on the latest destination developments. We kick things off with our own proprietary data, the results of our Meetings Market Survey, followed by what we’ve culled from other sources.

We hope our forecast will put you in good stead for the year ahead. But as Deputy Editor Barbara Palmer and I found in the news bits that follow on this page, some things you just don’t see coming.

That’s Freudian

Instead of focusing on how AI will replace jobs, The Wall Street Journal recently explored new roles created by the explosion in generative AI, from prompt engineers and large language model developers — to AI psychotherapists who “will evaluate a model’s upbringing, by scrutinizing its training data for errors and sources of bias. They may put AI models on the couch, by probing them with test questions.”

Chatty Much?

AI-powered software and apps increasingly are being used during video meetings to generate summaries, analyze key points, and list follow-up actions. According to a Wall Street Journal story, they now can deploy chatbots to let participants know when they are monopolizing a conversation or interrupting others. One downside to the tools’ supercharged abilities to stay on top of what’s going on in meetings: More workers are sending AI note takers to attend in their place.

Anchors Away

Could this be the future of broadcasting hybrid and virtual events? The use of virtual news anchors, first introduced in China and South Korea, is growing, debuting this year in India, Greece, Kuwait, and Taiwan, reports The Guardian. A “virtual human,” Zae-In, designed by South Korean AI company Pulse9, anchors a Seoul Broadcasting System news program — her AI generated young face syncing with the physical movements and facial expressions of human actors.

And in a press release, Hour One describes how its technology platform allows users to choose from a selection of virtual news anchors or create their own — including one based on themselves.

Count me out on that last bizarre option. I see more than enough of my own face on Zoom and Teams calls, thanks very much.

Lighter Loads

It takes a special skill, I think, to imagine how one new trend may have multiple downstream effects. Take, for instance, the rise in popularity of Ozempic and other semaglutides that people are taking to lose weight. Bloomberg reports that slimmer passengers would mean less fuel needed for flights. One analyst predicts that if the average passenger weight falls by 10 pounds, United Airlines would save $80 million a year in jet-fuel costs.

Head over to the travel forecast for more — and perhaps less eyebrow-raising — insights about what else to expect in the air and on the ground next year.

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.

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