As an avid user of technology since the early 90s and having witnesses first hand the near demise of the recorded music industry, it is my view that the meetings industry is experiencing a similar relationship shift with technology. The meetings industry shares its resources with other sectors, and thus analysing the meetings industry on an individual basis is largely a futile exercise. The business of meetings or if you will, in person social experiences, is changing rapidly and technology is both fuelling and helping us cope with these changes. It is clear that in person meetings are still needed for all aspects of business and life, so the fear of technology taking meetings away completely is unfounded. Having said that, the threat of meetings and events that do not offer attendees good value disappearing is very real. Meetings and events are under pressure to prove their value and I believe this will have the long term beneficial effect of making future meetings and events more focussed and results oriented.
A new kind of hybrid and technology dependent events is also likely to emerge, with social media playing a large part in this trend. The usage of social media is at the forefront of any marketeer’s mind and whilst some organisations hesitate to enter the social media revolution, others are reaping its benefits at every chance. With Facebook now overtaking Google in many statistics, particularly in the amount of time spent on the site, social media is increasingly where target audiences spend time. This factor alone makes social media crucial to B2C and to a perhaps lesser extent B2B marketing strategies. The smart phone usage surrounding meetings and event also presents enticing opportunities, which are of course accompanied by challenges. The extent that mobile technology continues to change business practices and models cannot be underestimated and this is, in conjunction with social media, the focus of technology integration for the meetings industry. I am confident that the industry has much to gain from careful and strategic embracing of technology and especially social technology, because after all being social is at the core of everything we do.
Director of European Operations
SYNAXIS Meetings & Events
VP Marketing, Meeting Professionals International UK & Ireland Chapter 2010-11