2012 predictions: Sustainable Meetings and Events, part 2 (of 3)
On what we will see more of in the coming year
Earlier (this post), our list of predictions for 2012 was introduced. The thinking is informed by many conversations, readings, client requests and a dash of common sense.
- Technology: As with all sectors, the meetings and events industry will see a rapid evolution resulting from the increased usage of event-specific smart phone applications. These apps provide individual delegates personalized, customized mapping to optimize their event experience, saving time and increasing productivity. Social Media, as a platform for two way communication between even owners and event participants (‘what’s with the air conditioning?’ ‘The Audio Visual is awful’) provide real time opportunity to address any event improvements needed to enhance participant experience. Social media makes it possible for the event to begin at the time of registration giving real value to sponsors and exhibitors to engage event attendees in constructive dialogue before the official event start date. 2012 will see an industry awakening in the practical use of simple-to-use-yet-powerful social media as a meaningful resource for planners and delegates.
- Virtual presence: Regional events connected internationally: Ok, so this is a technology thing, too, but the easy availability of ever-improving-and-affordable technologies will create a shift to more events creating ‘hub and spoke’ formats. Not only will this reduce costs (time, travel expense) but can also provide meaningful focus on regional issues. 2012 will see increases in the number of event planners who understand that allowing virtual audiences increases stakeholder engagement in their organizations (rather than, as many worry, compromise attendance). Regional ‘nodes’ which connect at focused times during their respective events can be highly engaging and offer exciting opportunities to share knowledge while reducing costs and carbon emissions from flights and other transport. The Green Meeting Industry Council webinar (Midori Connolly and Jessica Levin) and Event Camp Vancouver provide recent example not only of evidence of how well this can work but also ‘how to’s’ for integrating such technology for positive effect.
- Community Actions: Social programs are fundamental to any meeting or event. The change we will see in 2012 will be in what planners offer as activities. Rather than invest exclusively in more traditional activities such as theme parties or cocktail mingles, planners will offer more examples of socially responsible actions which give back to community. Participants in these sessions are moved to enthusiastic expression of these sessions being a highlight of their event experience as they offer highly personal connections not only with the charities supported but also other attendees. These sessions completely change the networking dynamic so that attendees interact as people with a shared interest and not just representative buyers and sellers. Also, greater effort will be made to measure social responsibility. Hours worked, funds raised, meals served, media hits, etc. Measurement of social responsibility is increasing in importance as organizations work to provide stakeholder groups concrete examples of how they are responsible and worthy of trust.
Thoughts on these? Look for a consolidated list of all 7 predictions later this week!