- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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…
- 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.
- 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.
As we say goodbye to 2010, here are the top 11 things we are
looking forward to in 2011:
The 40+ responses (thank you all!) I received reflect widely diverse views on events and the shifts in the way we may be doing business in the future. Here is a summary of the most notable:
- Spotlight on Vancouver: Following Vancouver’s Winter Olympics event producers around the world know it’s OK to be human after show maestro David Atkins redeemed his opener’s failed cauldron lighting with a funny mime routine during the closing ceremony. In July, the city also hosted MPI’s World Education Congress, dazzling attendees with natural beauty and expert logistics. Will the “Olympic Effect” continue to shine on Vancouver in 2011?
- Volcano Ash: In April, an enormous cloud from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland caused the worst travel disruptions since 9/11, stranding travelers on six continents. Meeting and travel professionals were once again reminded of the need for contingency planning.
- Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: Days after the volcanic eruption, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, sending oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. Groups steered clear of Gulf state destinations, prompting tourism promoters and businesses to apply for financial compensation. Will BP’s experience prompt more to seek corporate reparations from environmental disasters?
- Nashville Floods: Overshadowed by the oil spill, torrential rains and floods devastated Nashville. The Opryland Hotel was under 10+ feet of water, forcing many to relocate their conventions. At least one planner reported to Greenfield using a virtual tour because she had no time to fly to the new convention hotel. Could this be the start of a new way to conduct site inspections? The Opryland re-opened in November.
- Meeting Boycotts: Headaches and relocations continued as the meetings industry became a political pawn with U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva urging groups not to schedule conventions or conferences in Arizona to protest the state’s new immigration bill, S.B. 1070. While more controversial aspects of the legislation were struck down in July, one study pegged the damage at $141 million in lost revenue.
- The Rise of Mega Hybrid Meetings: MPI’s 2010-2011 Chairman Eric Rozenberg nominated SAP’s SapphireNow as an industry-shifting event which simultaneously connected 5,500 people in Frankfurt (Germany), 10,500 people in Orlando and 35,000 people on the web. While this is not the only larger-scale live-virtual event that took place in 2010, few would deny that this new type of meeting is a game changer. Will hybrid events help mitigate natural and man-made disruptions?
- G8 & G20 Meetings: Canada was abuzz with international attention again in late June as Huntsville, ON and Toronto, ON respectively hosted the G8 and the G20 gatherings. Combined these events represented the most expensive security operation in Canadian history, reported at almost $1 billion. How will this demand on public coffers sour taxpayers’ views of international meetings?
- Mexico’s Annus Horribilis: Mexico started 2010 under the spectre of the H1N1 flu pandemic, and continued to struggle with gang violence. While drug wars centred mostly in non-touristic areas, the country’s biggest industry staggered under the bad publicity. Will our Mexican friends finally be able to focus on more positive developments, such as the United Nations Climate Change Conference which just concluded with an accord in Cancun?
- European Financial Crisis: First Greece, then Ireland and now perhaps Spain. Europe is struggling under colossal debt. In 2010 the Euro has plunged, making European travel and meetings more attractive. Will North American incentive planners take advantage or shy away from the potential political unrest?
- TSA Security Crackdown: Just in time for holiday travel, the Transportation Security Administration stepped up inspections, prompting an outcry from travelers, civil libertarians and travel industry officials. Will this added intrusion fade as just one more aggravation to put up with for the sake of getting to one’s destination? Will some meetings stay away from U.S. destinations to spare attendees the humiliation?
What were your top events in 2010? Please share them with us.
In closing, let’s hope for more positive developments to make their way into our list next year. Until then, may you enjoy peace, health and prosperity!