If you’re in the meeting and events industry, you may have to change the way you operate. The meetings industry is perhaps the biggest victim of the Covid-19 Pandemic. As a result the way we conduct meetings has changed in a very short space of time, and even though the industry has adapted well, the pandemic will shape some of the top 10 meeting trends of 2021. It’s important to be aware of these trends if you want to remain competitive.
Let’s see what the meetings industry will look like in 2021.
1. Hybrid and virtual meetings are here to stay.
The world went into lock down quite quickly and meetings of all sizes were either postponed or cancelled.
But despite the pain, turmoil can breed creativity and innovation, and this is exactly what happened.
The industry started moving to virtual and then slowly to hybrid meetings. In fact in a Pcma study 76% of all planners said they are going virtual.
Now, I know this may not replace the deep connection you can make in person, but they are advantages to these type of meetings.
- A wider reach. The meetings or events recorded will be accessible to new viewers
- It could increase the chances of conversion from remote attendees to in person attendees. If you can entertain your virtual audience, they make come to one of your in person events
- It’s exciting for sponsors. Hybrid events have a combination of the engagement of a live audience, broadcasting online and social media buzz this is something that sponsors can’t ignore
Sounds great right? But just like everything else there are some drawbacks as well, and it’s important to be aware of them.
- Low engagement: It can be hard to get participation from a virtual audience
- Adoption: It can be a big challenge for organisations, especially since they’ve have had to adjust quickly.
- Technical difficulties: Online audiences may start to get frustrated and complain if they are any technical difficulties on day, such as inaccessibility. To make matters worse it can throw the entire schedule out of order.
With all that being said, there’s no reason you can’t have a successful virtual or hybrid meeting. In fact, even when people are allowed to meet in person again it could take people some time to regain the confidence. So hybrid and virtual meetings are here to stay and are a top 10 meeting trend of 2021.
Let’s have a look at how you can host a successful hybrid meeting or event.
- Make sure you have the right tech support and equipment. This includes LED lighting, HD cameras, microphones and an event management software that can be integrated with a streaming platform to connect with remote attendees
- The technology is important but its also crucial to have the right staff support. This may vary but the essentials would include technical staff, camera people, director, moderator and a social media team
- Get the small things right. Slides, videos and presentations that can be uploaded easily
Now that the prerequisites are dealt with, here’s how to improve engagement.
- Engage with your remote audience. Your attendees will want to interact with you and not just listen to a speaker or a presentation. Engage with them as much as you do with your physical audience, include them in Q&A’s and discussions. This will allow you to network with a large international audience
- Make your sessions short and entertaining. Use dynamic image and good examples to substantiate your point. Another great way to increase engagement is to conduct a live poll on twitter.
If you need more help on hosting a hybrid meeting or event, here’s a guide to get you on your way.
As you know data can be very valuable. it can give you insights into your attendees habits, Interests, personalities and more.
What does this mean?
It means you can very accurately tailor the experience to your attendees, and this is what they’re demanding. Let your event attendees have control over their agenda’s. This will enable them to choose their own path, learn about their interests and expand their knowledge. It also enhances engagement and creativity.
With data collection becoming even more sophisticated, meetings and events will soon become truly personalised which makes it an important top 10 meeting trend of 2021.
If you’re not sure how to achieve personalisation, here are a few ideas to help you get started.
- Customize the event app. The event app will engage attendees before, during and after an event. You’ll want to allow for complete user customisation. Eventmobi can help do this with a schedule builder which attendees can use to tailor their entire experience, from travel logistics to a unique conference itinerary
- Use AI. An attendee’s future decision can be predicted from past behaviours. Using AI can help tailor and personalise suggestions on different aspects of a meeting or event. Tools like Eventbase and TurnoutNow can help you implement AI
- Give attendees control. Attendees want items and experiences that matter to them. The best way to personalise events is to put them in the driving seat. Meetingplay helps crowd source the event agenda in real time. Event planners can also make immediate changes and adjust future events.
- Group guest personas. Grouping similar personality types and segmenting the audience can help tailor experiences to similar interests
- Create event pathways. Create pathways that tailor to specific groups. For example, an event on leadership might focus on CEO's and entrepreneurs. This will ensure everyone’s expectations are being met.
Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you create a more personalised event.
Let’s move on, shall we?
3. Convenience - Converting visitors into direct bookers
Convenience is crucial for meeting planners, having a quick and easy way to turn your visitors into direct bookers. Hence its on our list for top 10 meeting trends of 2021.
Meetingselect’s Instant Booking tool can help.
With this product if a visitor comes across your profile on Meetingselect or your own website, they can easily book meeting rooms. It is great for both parties as it saves time and increases revenue. In addition to this, you can rank higher to gain more awareness.
Click here to register with Instant Booking
Speaking of tools, technological tools can also help.
4. Technology can help with your meetings and event programs
Meetings and events are not only bigger but more complex. Technology can help with this and hence is a top 10 meeting trend of 2021.
Event technology is evolving rapidly and the pandemic has only accelerated this. Pcma reported that if budgets were to be increased by 10%, 39% said they would increase use of technology and in North America it was 23.6%.
Not sure where to get started, well here are some tips.
- Utilise mobile devices. You can do this by making your website mobile friendly. Use an event app to help attendees learn more about speakers and sessions, and push out content to develop a relationship with your attendees.
- Take advantage of Social Media. Create hashtags to promote your event on social media. Not sure how to get started on social media, here’s some help.
- Virtual Experiences. Virtual reality (VR) in meetings and events can transform the industry. virtual product demonstrations, fully immersive site surveys and even virtual event attendees! This is just the tip of the iceberg. Products like Oculus Rift and Samsung gear VR can help you start using VR in your next meeting or event. These examples of how VR is used in events may help spark some creativity.
- Simplify lead capture. The hundreds of people coming to your event are valuable leads. Technologies such as Meetingselect can help capture leads right on the spot, attract bookers and automate the response to RFPs to make the whole process seamless.
- Embrace polls and surveys. Technology can help question your guests and get feedback in real time. You can do this by asking question during the event, set up a poll at your booth and send surveys after the event.
- Use lighting. Though this may not seem very ‘techy,’ but it is important. Lighting can help welcome guests and create the right ambiance.
Here is some more detail that will help you effectively use technology in your next event or meeting.
5. The need for meeting and event technologists
Since technology is a big trend in the meetings industry, it means that the need for meeting and event technologists is also a top 10 meeting trend of 2021.
CWT’s data shows the number of event websites are quickly increasing, 52% year-over-year. The number of apps has doubled since 2017.
With powerful technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and 5G impacting every industry, the meeting industry needs event and meeting technologists who understand how to leverage these technologies.
6. Millennial's are the decision makers
Millennial's became the largest segment in the US Labour Force in 2016 at 35%.
What does this mean? Well they are now the largest demographic of meeting and event attendees, which means they are the decision makers and will influence the future of the industry. This makes it a crucial top 10 meeting trend of 2021.
If you want to remain competitive then you better start catering to their needs and wants.
Here’s what millennial's want
- They want experiences over material goods
- Millennial’s like to share experiences over social media
- They are more tech savvy than any generation before them.
7. Duty of care
Few companies have embraced this, but due to the pandemic its definitely a top 10 meeting trend for 2021 as people have never been more concerned about their health and safety.
These are the things you should have in place to mitigate any potential risks
- Ensure deep and thorough cleaning is done
- Have a proper policy in place. This includes vaccinations, areas people can visit, important contacts and protocols in case of emergencies.
- Access to important data. This data should include meeting date, country and contact details of meeting party and attendees.
Meetingselect has created and innovative tool that can help you get all these things in order.
8. Sustainability will come to the forefront in 2021
I believe all of you would agree that the environment and sustainability is perhaps society’s most pressing issue.
Consumers are demanding corporations play an active role to solve this problem and the meeting industry is no exception. Hence sustainability will be one of the more pressing top 10 meeting trends of 2021. Pcma reported that 79% of respondents believe that their company already emphasises sustainability.
Want to make your next event more sustainable? Here’s what you can do
- Ditch paper products and ‘extras.’ These include things like badges, signs and notepads
- partner with spaces using clean energy. With a large variety of event spaces choose those which are environmentally friendly. You can even ask on your RFP if the venue has any green initiatives or environmental certifications. If you’re having trouble finding sustainable locations, with Meetingselect you can filter your search to sustainable venues.
- Eat local. If you need catering for your event, find a caterer who has sustainably farmed foods that are plant heavy.
- Walk or travel. The location of your event is vital, I know. But maybe next time choose a location that is easy to get to, to lower your carbon footprint.
These are just a few ways to make your next meeting or event sustainable. If you’re serious about this, here’s how you can host events sustainably in 2021.
Speaking of plant heavy foods, this leads us nicely to the next trend.
9. Plant-based diet
The next top 10 meeting trend of 2021 is part of the F&B aspect of meetings and events.
Britain’s vegan population in 2019 was 600,000 and it’s the fastest growing health trend in the world.
Have you adjusted your menus? If not then you may want to include more plant-based items. This trend could also mean costs for the F&B aspect increases as a variety of menus will soon become a necessity.
10. Second tier and third tier cities
second tier and third tier cities are beginning to make their way into the discussion to host meeting and events, and this is why they complete our top 10 meeting trends of 2021.
If you haven’t considered these cities before, these are a few reasons why you may want to.
- Affordability. Cost remains a big factor, and if you want a good bang for your buck then second and third tier cities might be a good idea. Not only that, they have great dining options, a fantastic outdoor environment and a beautiful nightlife with entertainment
- Different cities attract different types of people. For nature lover cities like Salt Lake City and Denver would be a good fit. If people like music and entertainment then Nashville and Austin would be attractive
- Warmer welcomes. Convention and visitor bureaus (CVBs) are more helpful in second tier cities.
- Convenience. Ease of travel is important to attendees
- First class venues. A lot of second and third tier cities have impressive convention centres and hotels
If you can’t decide which cities to choose from these are a few you should consider.
So now you know what the top 10 meeting trends of 2021 are. These trends will shape the industry in the coming year and it’s important to be aware of them.
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