Cover Story

Meetings Industry Forecast: Human-Centered and Fueled by Tech

Our forecasts on lodging, travel, exhibitions, and more are filled with news of technological change — which doesn't eclipse the very human art of bringing people together.

Photo Illustration by James Yang

Plug in the search terms “AI” and “fear” and 113 million results turn up on Google in under half a second — and, yes, we get the irony that Google’s search engine is powered by AI.

It didn’t take much longer than that for artificial intelligence, machine learning, and a host of other technologies to turn up — and take an outsized role — in our research for this year’s Meetings Industry Forecast. From lodging to exhibitions to travel, rapidly changing technologies are changing the face of, well, face-to-face events. 

And while our forecast doesn’t look at any of these advancements through the lens of fear but rather that of opportunity — see Technology: What to Focus on Now” — we wondered: What part of bringing people together to learn and connect can’t be taken over by technology? 

For that, we turned to Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering, who reminds us that event design isn’t primarily a logistical challenge. It’s a human one. And while we increasingly rely on tech to optimize event experiences, no tool can tell us our purpose, or translate the reason why we are bringing people together. That’s on us.

You can view and download a PDF of our 2018 Meetings Industry Forecast, with outlooks for lodging, travel, exhibitions, and event technology sectors, below.

Convene Editors