Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Changing Shape of Meetings

With evidence pointing toward a gradual improvement in the economy, meeting and event professionals continue to remain in a state of cautious optimism (something we’ve gotten used to over the past few years).

Mike Lyons, Event Director for AIBTM, the America’s Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibitions, recently released his take on 2013. Here are some highlights:

Meetings will be smarter: Attendance at events will continue to be penny-wise, not pound-foolish. The decision to attend events in 2013 will be based increasingly on ROI metrics. Only those events that truly deliver value will be on the travel docket. This continues to be in line with the cautionary decision-making that will take place in 2013. The smart meeting will deliver value, innovation and proven tactics to succeed.

Technology won’t replace face-to-face: We are social beings. Technology can never replace the actual sharing of needs, opinions and experiences. Face-to-face is the catalyst for business growth and shortens the sale cycle – despite what technologists and the digital marketplace would have you believe.  Business is more than ever an industry of building relationships and word of mouth influences . . . that will never change despite social media, online meetings software and streaming media.

Word of mouth will drive sales: In the new book by the Keller Fay Group, “The Face-to-Face Book,” the most effective way to drive business is through word-of-mouth conversations. With social media being the new tool for marketers to reach audiences and communities, it is the combined Social Voice (online conversations and offline Word of Mouth recommendations) that will influence buying decisions and deliver positive business results. Meeting planners (and their strategic partners) will benefit from learning from influential stakeholders who utilize both online and offline mechanisms.

Innovation: Meeting planners will have to be more creative to survive the austere mentality of 2013. Developing cooperative relationships with vendors and increasing pressure to negotiate tough and hard will be expected. But that’s not all bad. One of the things we learn from economic downturns is that a new normal emerges. Innovation is the by-product of doing more with less.

Creating value for all stakeholders: Meeting planners’ jobs will continue to be in jeopardy as attrition rates continue to rise. To accomplish what needs to be done, many corporations will look to outside consultants and part-time meeting planners to get the job done. The ability to prove your worth and deliver value, not only for your external customer, but your internal stakeholders as well will be the reward of keeping your job. Driving those personal interactions between customers and prospects and buyers and sellers will be the hallmark of success for 2013 and the future.

1 comment:

  1. The technology issues is a bit of a paradox. Though tech has made organizing meets much easier (online registration, etc), I feel it has also led people to move away from the face to face element as a marketing tool. As technology gets better, organization will continue to grow easier, while marketing may get tougher. Standing out in a sea of digital communication is difficult. A strong face to face presence can help differentiate a smart planner. Here's another good article that addresses the face to face aspect: