Meetings Outlook: A State of Extended Growth

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Meetings Outlook: A State of Extended Growth

By Elaine Pofeldt | Oct 31, 2018

When 2,200 attendees showed up for the annual leadership meeting of a global Fortune 500 insurance company this past February, they encountered an unconventional centerpiece: blender bikes.

Once guests jumped on the bikes and started peddling, their action powered attached blenders that made healthy smoothies that they could drink. Surrounding the bikes were infographics, marketing collateral and ambassadors talking about the firm’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) objectives related to energy and sustainability.

“It was really a way to build awareness that the company has made these investments, while also getting you active, involved and engaged,” says Brent Turner, senior vice president of solutions for Cramer, the events and experiential marketing agency that came up with the idea. “It became a bit of an attraction. In case you were one of the people that got up on the bikes, you were in the message yourself.”

The insurance company’s use of the blender bikes brings together two key trends that stood out in this quarter’s Meetings Outlook survey: meeting innovation/engagement and a greater focus on CSR.

Events are getting slightly shorter, slightly larger, a little more frequent, a little more niche and with shorter sessions, the survey also found. The two most significant elements here are meetings becoming more niche (cited by 58 percent of respondents) and sessions getting shorter (cited by 30 percent of respondents).

Another key finding of the survey is that meeting innovation is proliferating. The survey identified 113 distinct trends—with 90 single-mention trends such as late registrations, paperless meetings and revolutionary technology. For comparison, in 2009—in the midst of the global financial crisis—only six trends were mentioned. The proliferation of these trends reflects the current market.

“The reason it’s even possible is the meeting industry is in a state of extended growth,” says Bill Voegeli (MPI Georgia Chapter) and president of Association Insights, the firm that conducts the research for the Meetings Outlook. “The meeting and event industry is healthy and has been for quite some time. Any time we have years of health and growth, we see people are able to be more innovative in their meeting design. They have a healthier market. They aren’t trying to squeeze everything into a single event.”

The increase in innovation is supported by greater employment of contractors, the survey found. When innovation is on the horizon, organizations tend to test it out with contractors, the researchers noted.

Reflecting the percolating climate of innovation, more organizers are replacing the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink type of meeting extravaganza with more frequent meetings on specific topics.

“We’re hearing a more niche-oriented event has a tendency to have more value to the intended audience,” Voegeli says.



Meetings Outlook is developed in partnership with MGM Resorts. Meetings Outlook is supported in partnership with IMEX Group. Research conducted by Association Insights.



Elaine Pofeldt
Elaine Pofeldt

Elaine Pofeldt is a freelance journalist in the New York City area who contributes to publications from CNBC to Forbes and is the author of the upcoming book The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business.