3 Predictions for 2013's Meetings Industry

A search for predictions for the hospitality industry for 2013 yields lots of hope for occupancy and RevPar. This one from Deloitte made me smile for all the same stuff we've heard before and the hope with which we can begin the new year.

Although not predictions, this  "wish list" from the Central Florida's Hospitality Community may be similar to those of others around the US and no doubt similar to those around the world. It is people- and dollar- focused.

Some of us are more cautious. In the US we await new legislatures and the US Congress determining their directions for dollars that will impact tourism, meetings and hospitality. Ending 2012 with the GSA meetings brouhaha still hanging over our heads, we are unsure what any cutback in government meeting and travel spending may cause overall.

My predictions, always an unsteady limb on which to go out:

1. In spite of all that many are doing around brain research and learning (just one of many resources), in spite of all my colleagues Jeffrey Cufaude and Jeff Hurt do in joining me to promote alternative meeting formats and sites, we will meet substantially the same in 2013 with a few pockets of excitement. 

Why? The facilities we use will be pretty much the same, albeit some calling themselves "lifestyle" which for me translates to very low furniture, funky lighting, and technology everywhere. Meeting room furnishings will remain standard and AV companies (bless their hearts!) will still insist on lowering the room lighting for presentations.

The belief that "our" participants aren't ready for change will persist and we'll be afraid to rock the boat in still-tough economic times.

2. Technology will be considered the end all and be all .. still. Technology's great! I love it and I also know that people-to-people interactions, which can begin via, and be enhanced by, technology, will be a big part of why people attend meetings. But the love affair will continue as more cool stuff is released. Corbin Ball and Jim Spellos, two early adapters, will continue to teach and excite many about what can be used, And we'll all keep our noses in our devices at breaks, lessening the opportunities for serendipitous encounters.

3. Meeting formats, for the most part, will continue to look and feel like the worst grammar or high school any of us attended: home room (opening session), 15 minutes to change classes (breaks to go to workshops), run to lunch (where they'll force us to hear a speaker in spite of the desire to 'network' - that is, learn with our peers), then back to class (breakouts), etc. After school (end-of-day at meetings) we'll have optional activities that will include, at meetings, the overly loud receptions with inaccessible food and few places to sit and really talk, again hampering our ability and desire to talk with others. (Here, we'll use technology to indicate we want to meet elsewhere to have a real conversation!).

Let me add a fourth prediction: Jeffrey, Jeff and I along with a few others will continue to noodge* meetings to a greater level of inventiveness, interactivity, and appropriateness for the audiences to which they are targeted.

I hope you have predictions to add, counter these, and help us move our industry along.

To a year of good health, positive changes in the industry, and peace...all beginning with each of us.

Joan

* So nu? You thought you'd get through a blog from me without a bit of learning something new?
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