To the Point

Ensuring Solid Performance for Meetings

What disruptions and opportunities lie ahead?

As we mark another year for Convene’s Annual Meetings Industry Forecast, both current reports and future predictions are positive. I hope you take the time to look over the data, but here are some predominant trends and themes:


Disrupters to the status quo

In many ways, the potential for disruption to standard business models for travel, lodging, and face-to-face events is incredibly strong right now. Challenges facing government meetings are still significant, and the sheer number of Millennials with their different priorities is an impressive force. Independent travelers have more options than ever before (think Airbnb, Uber, and boutique-style hotels). The key here is not to spend your time bemoaning potential disrupters. Look at each disruption as an opportunity to improve, and focus your efforts on doing just that.

Potential of international markets

The domestic market is on the rise, but the most significant potential comes from the international side. Inbound international traffic increased 3.5 percent in 2014; another 4.1-percent growth is predicted for 2015, according to USTA. And, as many international destinations begin to develop their meetings offerings, there are real possibilities for new shows to be launched or existing international events to expand.

Big data

It seems like everyone is talking about big data, but only a small percentage are using it effectively. The potential for big data in uncovering marketing opportunities, customer service, and ROI is huge. But gathering this data is still cost-prohibitive for many, and even then, those who have it must learn how to use it appropriately and translate it into business and marketing plans. The good news is the International Association of Exhibitions and Events’ (IAEE) Future Trends Task Force predicts the cost of data analysis will come down over time so that it becomes affordable for more organizations. 

Role of technology overall

The ability to collect big data is just one of the seemingly infinite ways technology can improve meetings and travel. It’s now been proven that virtual meetings allow us to expand the reach of our face-to-face meetings and attract new attendees. Though it has the potential to distract, social media can help to engage stakeholders in our missions both when they’re on site and throughout the year. And new technology has practical implications as well. Similar to the way we are now able to control appliances, heating and cooling, and electricity in our homes remotely, event professionals will be able to monitor food-and-beverage supply levels, rentals inventory, delivery status, venue temperatures, and more — with just a swipe on their touchscreen.

Deborah Sexton

Deborah Sexton is president and CEO of PCMA.