The meetings industry has hit the headlines again this week with the launch of the North American Meetings Industry Day. With the meetings industry contributing $907 billion to the U.S. economy and an equally respectable £39.1 billion to the UK economy, this is a sector which clearly delivers impact.
As an agency which manages PR campaigns for many major meeting, exhibitions and events across the UK and beyond, we agree! It’s also a sector that is continuously evolving. The IMEX Group, organisers of the forthcoming IMEX in Frankfurt trade show for the global meetings, incentive travel and events industry, has identified a selection of industry predictions. See what lies ahead for the meetings and events sector…..
1. ‘Play’ gives new meaning to profit
2014 was the year that ‘play’ as a tool for unlocking creativity and new sources of competitive advantage returned to business. In truth it had never left but the current manifestation of ‘play’ has a distinctly 21st century flavour. According to IMEX guest speaker, Creativity Guru, Rhea Blanken, Einstein reputedly said: “Play is the highest form of research.” Gartner has been predicting for the last few years that in 2015 up to 40 percent of Global 1000 organisations will use gamification as their primary mechanism for transforming business operations, citing Nike, Quirky and My Fitness Pal as leaders in this space.
2. 50 Shades of Apps
Apps continue to be ‘sexy’ (in advertising parlance) and their strength and novelty will be unbounded in 2015. The IMEX/QuickMobile global survey reported that 60 – 63% of all respondents had used a mobile app for at least one of their events in the past two years – and 92% of corporate event marketers had done so. Additionally seven of the 10 finalists in IMEX America’s Tech Start-up competition were apps, clearly demonstrating that this is fertile ground for fast innovation and added value.
3. Let’s Take it “Outside”
Meeting spaces and formats will go through even more of a revolution as the principles of meeting design become more firmly embedded throughout the supply chain. Where wifi allows set meetings free to ‘roam’ it also creates a subtle pressure to be ‘always on’.
Witness David Silverman of the Harvard Business Review suggesting 50-minute meetings so people have the chance to take a breath in between and actually be on time for today’s inexorable back-to-back work commitments. Contrast that with Arianna Huffington (of Huffington Post fame) who likes to hold walking meetings — supporting research from Washington University that workers are more engaged, less territorial and more collaborative when they’re working on a project while standing upright.
4. Wellness is Fit as a Fiddle
Beyond drinking water, eating protein-laden nuts and taking a quick, rejuvenating massage there is a higher level of spiritual awareness starting to make its way into meeting keynotes, sessions and formats. When both Time Magazine and Forbes give space to a topic then it has surely ‘arrived’. In this case it’s mindfulness that’s earning the “ink.” Lee Papa,wellness advocate, transformation advisor and IMEX America speaker summed it up: “I believe this is the new paradigm of business….it’s a time of moving into working from the heart and using our internal navigation to be more powerful and more authentic.”
Many of the themes above will be reflected in the education programs and initiatives on offer at IMEX in Frankfurt taking place 19 – 21 May at Messe Frankfurt, see www.imex-frankfurt.com.