As meeting planners work to shorter timelines, tighter budgets and increasing compliance requirements, thinking strategically with regards to meetings and corporate events is more crucial than ever. Which is interesting, as in a survey conducted by the GBTA Meetings Committee across 14 countries:
1) 50% of respondents reported that their company does not take a strategic approach to meetings management
2) Equally, 50% of respondents did not have a meetings policy in place
A key challenge highlighted by respondents was the variety of booking methods used for business meetings and the potential lack of ownership, which makes consolidation of meeting spend, data visibility and risk management a challenge. The top three booking routes identified were:
1) Individual contacts at the company (39%)
2) Dedicated meeting planners / team at the company (31%)
3) Combination of internal and external meeting planners (20%)
When selecting the location for a corporate event, bookers across the surveyed countries highlighted ease of travel and safety as the key determining factors. Given this, it is surprising that 75% of companies still do not have a risk management policy in place for meetings.
Rapid technological developments have been the number 1 driver of innovation for business meetings and events. Event organisers are using more enterprise-level software solutions than ever before, including:
- Beacon technology
- Customer relationship software
- Geo-fencing tools and
- Marketing automation
Meanwhile, live social media streams continue to link closely with events, after all:
- We post a staggering 1.8 billion photos every day (17 million of which are selfies)
- We spend an average of 2hr 13 mins on social media every day
- Livestream powers over 6 million events each year
- Mobile app usage at meetings is predicted to uplift by a further 10%
Media, PR, Digital Events and Social Media are no longer considered standalone verticals and work together to support attendee conversion and engagement.
We are also seeing basic artificial intelligence in our homes, with Amazon Echo and Google Home, and as the push for personalisation at events increases, we expect to see;
- Automated concierge services
- Dynamic content recommendations
- Crowdsource playlists
Overall, how we interact with attendees and personalise their experience will increase greatly.
The event technology industry is estimated to be worth £28bn. Coupled with a greater capacity for data collection and a changing delegate demographic, this is influencing;
- How we communicate
- How we use data to understand attendees
- And how we make their experience a customized and engaging one.
Best-in-class events technology and marketing solutions are being married together. An example of this is the purchases of Marketo and Cvent, a huge deal which brings together marketing techniques which attract attendees with a richer on-site experience.
This really speaks to the value of data, aligned with marketing, technology and logistics. Drones may move from delivering contraband to HM Prisoners, to providing novelty to the show floor or outdoor events.
We can expect a challenging year economically and may see a fall in corporate events and meeting spend, but this is also an opportunity to promote savings through effective SMMP. Experienced meeting managers will be able to capitalize on new technologies and data visibility to personalize the delegate experience and maximize ROI.