December 20, 2010 by Jeff Hurt
What do the next ten years have in store for conference and event organizers? Plenty.
Image by ex.libris.
As 2010 comes to a close, many conference and event professionals have been looking ahead to the 2011. Here’s a look into 2011 and the next decade.
The successful will be able to navigate rapidly changing times with increased flexibility. The ability to be nimble and make quick midcourse corrections will be highly prized and valued.
Attendees want education that provides a deep-dive and is customized to their unique needs. Large conferences that provide a buffet smorgasbord of overview offerings will suffer. Those that can provide customized, innovative, unique content for sub-specialty groups will succeed.
Our fears of digital events cannibalizing face-to-face experiences will be replaced with designing experiences for both on-site and remote audiences. More organizations will flip the paradigm and have presenters participate virtually to a live audience.
These software applications will become increasingly intuitive and invisible with the ability to predict the intentions of past attendees.
Collaborative partnerships with large conferences will increase, as small niche conferences bring innovative formats, organization agility and intimate customer knowledge.
Conference organizers will see a shift of traditional employed attendees that fall into one or two registration categories as untraditional employment becomes the norm. With an increased flexible workforce of consultants, contractors, free-agents and freelancers, conference organizers will redefine distributor and supplier registrant categories.
Organizations will increasingly see the value and savings of a contract workforce.
Organizations will place higher demands on experiences that have an emotional impact and align with their brand. Logistics by itself will not be enough.
Baby Boomers will be “unretired” and actively engaged in a profession. Some may start new careers. GenY will mature and be fluent in mobile and social platforms with the global grid at their fingertips. Organizers will have to address both audiences.
Attendees will become increasingly bored with talking head lectures that could have been shared online. Association members will demand that traditional annual meeting bylaw requirements be moved into business meetings outside of general sessions and luncheons.
Smartphones and mobile devices will be the standard for computing. Attendees will expect to connect and do business while at your meetings as well.
As these economies grow, more meeting professionals will leave their American/European jobs for these high-paying experiences. Competition for experienced professionals will increase.
The high cost of exhibiting and changes in how goods and services are procured will open up new areas of potential outside of the show floor.
ROI of meetings and events has come into its own in the past five years, increasingly looking at the bottom line. Some talked about profits and impact to the planet. In the next ten years, we will look at profit, planet and people.
They will increasingly want more customized, personalized information that they can afford. Their comfort with digital learning will force conference organizers to provide real-time, on-demand options.
What would you add to this list? Which one of these trends are you already seeing at your conferences?
Filed Under: Event Planning
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Though I think sustainability (or your #14 about triple bottom line)should actually be higher on the list as I see this as becoming a core value of event planning, I think this is a great list. Passing it on to our event marketing team.
Great forecast. I am enjoying your posts and passing them along to my network of speakers as well as social media friends.
Thank you Jeff! Yes this is right on target! And yes I do see some of these trends already taking shape. I don’t know why but it seems many event planners, conference organizers and attendees do not see the “light” – yet we are all in a real period of change and the change is coming quickly. I look forward to the challenge!
I can’t see face to face every being impacted by Digital. I do see digital enabling face face meetings though. Great post Jeff!
Great list Jeff and one every planner should take to heart! Although I’m biased, I’d like to add the use of video to your trends. Of course we’re all looking at how virtual meetings are going to impact our future but what I’m predicting is an explosion of video-rich resources to better inform, explain, enlighten and yes, entertain our attendees. If a picture is “worth a thousand words” then imagine the possibilities with many images put together in a clear, concise message.
Best to everyone as we move forward in these exciting times!
🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting.
We appreciate you passing along the information. Thank you!
Yes, we are in the era where change is the constant. I’m not sure why some event and meeting professionals have not seen the “light” yet either. It’s clearly bright pink! 😉
I like what you said, “…I do see digital enabling face to face meetings.” I’m with you on that one.
How could I omit video?!?!? That was a major faux pas on my part. I’m with you that the internet is increasingly going video. Meeting and event professionals need to start embracing its rich resources now or be left behind on that one!
Nancy’s #15: Conference and event organizers need to keep their fingers on the “pulse” of their community.
Demonstrate passion, pulse, interaction, engagement, quantification,understanding all drives a better ROI experience for both attendees and exhibitors/sponsors.
Those who don’t will produce “just another event”, and devalue f2f marketing, and eventual disappear. Please don’t because any negative f2f experience works against the entire industry.
[…] From Jeff Hurt – 14 Conference and Event Trends for the next Decade! […]
#14, the “new” roi of profits, planet and people is really important and I know of one group at Washington U. in St. Louis, at student led group, that is running a consultancy for campus events to ensure they are green. Great group! Great Idea!
Also, as a triathlete, I love “Athletes for a Fit Planet”–doing the same thing for triathlons.
I think there’s another slice that will cut across a lot of the changes you talk about. Similar to the “community orientations” that we talk about in our book on Digital Habitats, conferences will develop different styles of participation according to whether the emphasis is on “ongoing conversation,” “project,” “access to expertise,” etc. Those styles of participation determine lots of other things, like the technologies that support a conference, that connect people before and after, etc.
Also, I think the business models for conferences will become more complex.
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