August 26, 2013
Trends in meetings covers a broad spectrum: marketing, speaker management, audience participation, networking mediums, technology, security, trade show sales, room sets, and so on. Are poster sessions still appropriate? What registration software is the most popular? How do we keep our workshop panelists from promoting their own product? Which mobile app should we be using? Are we ready to go virtual? Is attendance trending up? Are conferences trending shorter? What can we do to get more sponsors?
At Kellen Meetings, we don’t necessarily focus on what the rest of the association market is doing, but rather on what we are doing, and how well we are doing it. We look at each other and try to determine which clients are the trend setters, and which clients do things the same way year after year. And then we ask each other “Is it working?” “How are your numbers?” “How did your board react to that?”
At the Kellen Company Managers’ Summit in August, Kellen employees gathered to share some of the trends and ideas that affect our clients. In our New Meeting Trends and Technologies session, we discussed some of these trends:
- Preparing our Presenters- If you are struggling with keeping presenters in line, be more communicative. Meet with them in advance and manage the expectation. Let them know this is not an opportunity for a commercial, and to focus on the audience’s needs and questions. Poster sessions are still popular – allow your presenters to share ideas and promote their products/services in an open environment rather than in the session.
- Reaching our Attendance Goals – Attendance at our meetings is trending upward. Sure, some attendance levels are still flat, but the majority of our client events are on a slight upward incline. For trade associations, there’s still the need to come together in person to network and sell. For professional societies, as a result of research and hard work, we are keeping our audiences engaged.
- Offering Cutting Edge Technology – On the technology front, mobile apps are just starting to catch on, as the functionality goes up and the cost comes down. The cost of internet access, for the most part, is coming down, but the available bandwidth is not necessarily going up. If internet is crucial to your meeting, you need to be talking to your provider about bandwidth and access. Twitter feeds are still few and far between – it remains to be seen how they will affect attendee engagement.
- Formatting our Events – Pre-Conference workshops are starting to pick up again, and conferences length is starting to extend. Educational sessions are not getting longer; in fact they’re shortening in order to allow more networking time. Special events such as private hosted dinners with keynote speakers, optional tours, basic educational sessions for CEU credit tacked on pre or post allow us to gain a bit more traction, and a little more revenue out of our normal two-day conferences. Golf numbers have dropped, which means we have to be a bit more creative on social networking options.
We all need to come out of our silos once in a while to see what the rest of the company and industry is doing. If you want to know what’s trending, take a look at our clients’ meetings. You’ll see some very satisfied meeting attendees.