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11 Things for the Meetings Industry to Look Forward to in 2011

As we say goodbye to 2010, here are the top 11 things we are
Moving Forward
looking forward to in 2011:
  1. Return to Healthier Business Levels – 2011 won’t be a banner year but most economic indicators point to a recovery.  According to latest MPI Business Barometer Report and the IMEX Global Insights Report, organizers are reporting increasing demand with the number of meetings and their associated budgets on the rise.  Hoteliers such as Marriott and IHG started to benefit in the latter part of 2010 with rising revPAR
  2. Changing Mindset – With business improving we also look forward to mindsets shifting from the negative “bunker mentality” of the last 2 ½ years.  But let’s ensure we remember the lesson the recession should have taught us: Never take business for granted!  Nurture and appreciate existing client relationships, but fill your pipeline with plenty new opportunities… just in case.  If you’re looking for ideas on how to do that, check out the resources at Engage Selling Solutions – we’ve hired Colleen Francis to coach our team!
  3. More Intelligent Marketing – Regardless of the economic rebound, the marketplace will continue to fragment.  One-size-fits-all, mass marketing no longer works.  More innovative and intelligent marketing practices will be required of meetings industry suppliers.  Increased focus on measuring social media ROI.  More customized, permission-based conversations with prospective clients.  We look forward to the implementation of marketing automation tools that will deliver higher-quality, sales-ready meeting and convention leads.  It’s been done extensively in the IT sector and we’re looking forward to seeing this applied to sales & marketing for the meetings industry.  To learn more, check out DemandGen Report.
  4. Better Mobile Applications – Whether it’s planners looking to attract attendees or suppliers touting their services, we look forward to the increasing shift to mobile applications.  According to fellow MPI member and social media consultant Cameron Toth:  “The most important thing that happened this year is the increased connectivity and speed of mobile technology.  From this moment on if we are looking to promote we must consider the mobile device user in our marketing plans.  From mobile friendly websites to event apps we are now looking at engaging our audiences differently and better than ever before.  New contracts will talk about cell phone reception and wi-fi.  If they don’t the attendees will.”
  5. Hybridization of Meetings – 2010 was notorious for significant disruptions to travel (see our 2010 Top 10 Events List).  But with increasingly sophisticated infrastructure, we look forward to improved virtual meeting experiences in 2011.  Click here to learn more about hybrid meetings. 
  6. Better Quantification of the Value of F2F Meetings – If the recession taught this industry one thing, it should be that we must do a better job of proving the value of face-to-face interaction.  We look forward to better quantification of how in-person meetings help establish the trust necessary for all sorts of human activity, from successful peace accords and major economic programming to  ground-breaking research.
  7. New Marketplace Opportunities – The North American meetings industry has been suffering from a dysfunctional business exchange model: the tradeshow. With IMEX and AIBTM making their debut in the USA, along with a host of other regional events by the likes of Elite Meetings and Meetings4You, we look forward to rejuvenated interactions between planners and suppliers.
  8. Rebounding Employment Levels – Cynics have said that the latest downturn was needed to cool an overheated market where younger employees were being too demanding.  We look forward to rebounding employment opportunities for all meetings industry professionals and the continuing dialogue between generations!
  9. Increased International Travel – We look forward to increased diversification of our meetings industry, with attendance from higher-growth countries such as Brasil, Russia, India and China (a.k.a. the “BRIC Countries”) as well as other developing countries.  More diverse cultural input and dialogue is what our world needs to solve its problems…
  10. The Release of the APEX/ASTM Environmentally Sustainable Meeting Standards – They’ve been long in coming, but finally, in 2011, we should have universally accepted standards for meeting professionals to produce more sustainable events.  According to the Convention Industry Council, “The standards have completed the APEX consensus process and are now being balloted through the ASTM International consensus process, granting the standards recognition through an ANSI-accredited international standards setting organization.” For more information, click here.
  11. The New Ottawa Convention Centre – Yes, we admit it.  This is a bit biased.  But we’re looking forward to the re-opening of our Canadian capital’s convention facility, right here in our own backyard.  Under re-construction since September 2008, the redesigned and expanded venue will re-open April 2011.
What are you looking forward to in 2011?  Share your views with us!