Remember what meetings and conventions looked like 10 years ago? There were no iPhones. Programs were packed into massive, 100-page books. Talking heads ruled at the front of ballrooms lined with standard seating arrangements.
By David McMillin
Over the past decade, everyone has been racing to keep up with constantly evolving attendee behaviors, and the rate of disruption is not slowing down. At Convening Leaders 2016 in Vancouver, Dan Berger, CEO of event software company Social Tables, gave an audience of planners and suppliers a glimpse of the possibilities for the future. Here’s a look at some of his most exciting predictions.
1) Coordinating event logistics will be automated.
When he speaks of “logistics”, Berger isn’t just talking about arranging rooms or deciding how much coffee should be served in an afternoon break. He believes that automation will help eliminate tough decisions for attendees, too. “For example, imagine if content could be automatically curated based on the LinkedIn profiles of attendees,” Berger said.
2) The event business model will change.
While your organization’s operating budget may be based on x-number of annual meeting registrations at a set dollar amount, Berger believes that the future may eliminate high registration fees for access to the entire meeting. Instead, he contemplates a model that allows attendees to pay a fee per session.
3) There will be fewer site visits.
Tired of spending so much time away from home scouting out potential places to host your next conference? As virtual reality soars in popularity and centers and hotels develop more robust digital tools, Berger predicts that planners will be able to leave their bags unpacked. “We’ll be able to get a virtual experience of what’s happening in the environment,” Berger said.
Site inspections, however, will not disappear.
4) Traditional event apps will no longer exist.
Everyone’s talking about mobile apps, but Berger believes that apps as we know them today will no longer exist. Rather than a stand-alone app for one trade show or convention, imagine an app that works for hundreds of face-to-face experiences and even suggests new meetings for users. Other organizations may be able to invest in a more robust mobile web experience, and attendees will simply find their information in their browsers rather than downloading or installing a new program.
5) Hotels will do mostly group business.
Hotels may be enjoying big business from leisure and business travelers today, but Berger expects the sharing economy to make traditional properties rely on group business more than ever before. He believes that more travelers will turn to Airbnb and other alternative lodging options when traveling on their own, and hotels will be full of large blocks of attendees.
6) Group business will be booked mostly online.
Many meeting planners may already use eRFP services, and in the future, Berger forecasts that they will turn to the digital space for additional decisions. “Just like Amazon makes recommendations on which productions you should buy, online engines will suggest places and venues to consider for your group,” Berger said.
What else might the future hold for meetings and events? Check out Berger’s “Predictions for the Meetings Industry in 20 Years.”