Anybody out there remember the Ouija Board? You know, that silly game you’d consult for answers to all those deep questions in life, like will Jeremy ever kiss me or will I finally make the cheer squad? At the risk of sounding ancient, I’m willing to admit it was quite popular when I was growing up.
Segue to 2016. There are more sophisticated ways to make predictions — opinion polls, surveys, audience response systems, voting, tabulating, reviews, studies, examinations, investigations, assessments and analysis.
You name the topic. We ask pertinent questions and transfer the newfound data to white papers, charts, Excel spreadsheets, executive summaries, reports, statistics, flow charts, graphs and PowerPoint presentations. When finalized, we digest the results over and over and over again. This is the American way. We believe in our opinion polls. Right?
Truth be told, my forecasts for 2016 are not scientific. I have no official data to back these predictions but all were taken from headlines in national publications. With that said, here are a few educated bits of forward-looking advice for those of us in the meetings and event industry:
- Meetings need a defined purpose. If they don’t have one, you risk no one showing up.
- Stay on top of travel trends. Travel costs are escalating, so they must have a perceived and real value, much like the way we need to show attendees the value of face-to meetings.
- Network like you mean it. Advance bookings are back in vogue; pop-up meetings are still the norm. What to do? Work your supplier relationships like your life depends on it because it really does. This is how you open doors and get space moved for last-minute contracts.
- Embrace hybrid meetings. You must do this if you want your numbers to soar. Options for videoconferencing, webinars, live-streaming and post-conference opportunities to purchase what’s been recorded appeal to diverse generations and mean you need to offer price tiers to meet the demands of those coming and going for different portions of your program. Don’t fight to make them stay for the entire event. Go ahead and give them options instead.
- Start with a smooth, efficient registration process. The faster I can understand my options — deadlines, pricing structures, session selections etc., — the faster I’ll commit. Use Amazon’s one-click-purchase as your ultimate role model. We all know it works.
Finally, no matter your age group, your relevancy must keep pace with the changes coming at you. Embrace reinvention or be prepared to age out of the industry.
What do you see as the trends facing meeting and event planners in 2016? Please share your comments in the box below.