Seven Significant Trends Impacting Face-To-Face Meetings

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Step into any public venue today and you’ll see a variety of technology tools in use.

Yet most of our face to face meetings still do not reflect the realities of our time.

The Horizon Report 2010 examines key trends that will impact a variety of global sectors in the coming five years. These key trends have significant application for conferences, events and face-to-face meetings.

Seven Significant Key Trends

1. The way we think of learning environments is changing.

In face-to-face meetings, traditionally the learning environment has been a physical space, the meeting room. That idea is changing. The spaces where attendees learn are becoming more community driven, informal and supported by technologies that allow digital communication and collaboration. Conference organizers need to start designing more informal, open public spaces where people can connect, build community, gather, mingle and self-organize around topics. Learning no longer only takes place in formal education sessions.

2. People want to participate with and in the experience instead of being a passive spectator.

The model of a conference presenter standing in front of an audience explaining content to passive listeners is becoming less pragmatic. The internet allows people to control the way they consume content and participate in digital experiences. They want that same type of opportunity in the conference environment. The participatory culture has permeated most contemporary experiences today. 

 3. Open content repositories and social networks are challenging the conference organizer to revisit and redefine their role of content and education provider.

Access to free and quality content and education opportunities has never been as abundant, commoditized, easy and open as today. More important to today’s conference participants is advice on how to connect, engage and make their own interpretations with others and content.

4. Rich media – animations, audio, augmented reality, images, QR codes, visuals and video – are becoming increasingly valuable assets in face-to-face experiences.

Immersing the senses with multimodal learning in is critical to create memorable and unique face-to-face experiences. Animations, audio, visuals and videos will help conference participants have a deeper understanding of concepts and issues.

5. People expect to be able to communicate, connect, learn and work whenever and where ever they want including at your event.

Professionals must balance demands from family, home and work in an ever increasingly busy world. Many adults perceive faster as better. They want easy and timely access to the information on their network as well as their social networks. The implications for face-to-face meetings in venues without free or inexpensive WiFi are profound.

6. Many of the technologies people use are becoming increasingly cloud-based and our concept of IT support is decentralized.

It does not matter where our work files are stored. What is important is that our information is accessible regardless of where we are or what device we are using. We are growing increasingly comfortable with browser based software that is device independent. Conference organizers must ensure that there are free, robust WiFi areas within the conference venue for attendees to use.

7. People are placing higher value on innovation and creativity.

How innovative is your face-to-face experience? Is it predictable? Would attendees say it was creative or conventional? Our conferences must reflect the growing importance of innovation and creativity both in the experience and as professional skills.

Which trend excites you the most? What are some of your recent conference experiences that showcased some of these trends?

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  2. Katie S. says:

    Hi Jeff – This is an insightful and invaluable overview, thank you!

    There are so many new opportunities for event professionals to develop and execute rich, dynamic and memorable meeting experiences. The Horizon Report 2010 trends only further emphasizes the ways that the industry continues to be redefined. Speaking from the perspective of a venue, we’re excited (and inspired!) to see that planners are working towards creating meetings that focus on building a more innovative and participatory face-to-face experience for attendees.

    The challenge (for both planners and venues) is that event execution is now more complex than ever. There are more logistical elements, prospective audiences and channels that need to be considered. It’s important for planners to take the right amount of time and steps to plan appropriately in order to ensure the right mix of online and face-to-face strategies.

    Katie S., Omni Hotels & Resorts

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      Thanks for reading and leaving your thoughts. I agree with you that event execution is increasingly more complex than in the past, especially if the meeting professional is also looking at the design of the experience for both online and face-to-face audiences.

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