5 Meeting Trends for 2016

At the beginning of a new year we can always read numerous articles about the top meeting trends. Trendwatchers spend months researching and interviewing industry professionals and eventually come up with their top trends. From all the articles that I’ve come across these last weeks I’ve put together my personal top 5 meeting trends for 2016.

1. Personalisation

People are individuals and they want to be treated as such – also when it comes to participating in meetings and events. The larger the event the more difficult it is to create a personal experience, but also the more important it is. Somewhat of a paradox, but personal, tailor made experiences can make or break an event in the eye of the beholder. To maximise (marketing) efforts, personalisation should be applied prior to, during and after an event. Relevant content, flexible programme options and social interaction & engagement opportunities are all means that can be used to offer a personal experience.

one size does not fit allBy the way, personalisation is a logical development from another mega trend that we started hearing about a couple of years ago: big data. Simply said, big data refers to collecting large amounts of available data and – most importantly extracting – value from this gathered information. In other words, big data is a necessary means for personalisation and the two go hand-in-hand.

2. Crowd streaming

When we talk about Live streaming it is usually the event professional or meeting organizer who is in charge of the broadcast. The organizer keeps full control over what is and isn’t broadcast and how. Crowd streaming on the other hand is user generated content. The stream is created by attendees of the event, which means that the event organizer cannot influence the broadcast. Periscope and Meerkat, tools that both surged in 2015, show great examples of crowd streaming.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton is seen on the display of a phone as she speaks to members of the media after meeting with small business owners, Tuesday, May 19, 2015, at the Bike Tech cycling shop in Cedar Falls, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Live crowd stream of Hillary Clinton responding to questions (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Losing control over what is being broadcast might sound scary, but don’t be afraid. Crowd streaming is actually a great opportunity for the events industry. It’s a unique way to get attendees engaged, particularly those ‘attending’ remotely. Event professionals should embrace crowd streaming as a (content) marketing tool to attract (potential) attendees for future events. One thing to keep in mind though is the legal perspective for both live and crowd streaming: everything being broadcasted is subject to rights.

3. Shared economy for venues

screen shot headbox homepage

screen shot HeadBox homepage

By now most of us have embraced the concept of social sharing. Airbnb and Uber, probably the most renowned social sharing companies, have become part of our daily lives. In 2016 this trend will likely expand more specifically to the meetings industry as well, with a number of ‘airbnb for venues’ platforms popping up. HeadBox and Splacer, for example. And that is a good thing as it offers a lot more flexibility for both supply and demand.

4. Safety First

Safety always has been and always will be part of the meetings and events industry, especially for large or high profile events. However, taking into account current affairs the pressure to ‘guarantee’ a safe environment for attendees and staff is increasing. While in the past safety might not necessarily have been one of the top priorities it will definitely be on the top of the list for a growing number of events. Just meeting the basic safety requirements will not be enough anymore. Event planners will have to go the extra mile to make everyone feel safe. Communicating openly about (extra) measures taken and action plans in case of a threat will make information more accessible for everyone involved.

5. Sustainability

A few years ago Green Meetings was a buzzword. While it’s been buzzing a bit less loud these past years, it definitely has not gone away. Quite on the contrary. In light of the recent Climate Change Conference in Paris it is clear that sustainability has to become the standard, not something you do to stand out.

The difference is that we are now focussing on more differentiated trends in the meetings industry. Digital itineraries, working with event apps rather than print-outs, chosing renewable resources, opting for green transportation, working with local suppliers, giving back to the community, digital goody bags – all trends that we see in the industry. And each single one of them is part of the larger sustainability trend. This one’s here to stay.

green transportation - the Dutch way

green transportation – the Dutch way

During the next weeks I’ll take a closer look at some of these trends. In the meantime, I’m very curious: what are your top meeting trends for 2016?

Reduce the carbon footprint of your event

In the past we’ve spoken a lot about green meetings. This topic is not a hype or trend, it’s a new way of event planning. As a business you have to take responsibility. You should be aware how large the carbon footprint is of your company and how you can decrease it. I have some tips for you that are easy to implement.

green leaf

You and your team are travelling to another city or country to attend an event. I understand that you like the freedom of your own car, but it is truly unnecessary to have a few cars riding the same route and parking at an airport or venue. It can save you a lot of money on parking and fuel costs when you carpool with colleagues.

Arrange a interesting tourbus
Organising an event whereby many people have to come from far? Why don’t you arrange a tourbus that transports the attendees all at once. To really make it interesting you can ask one of the speakers to have their talk during the bus ride. This way you don’t lose extra time while travelling.

It sounds so obvious, but we don’t really do it. Recycling. After every congress, event or meeting pens, notebooks, key cords, usb-sticks and branding materials are carelessly thrown away. We should think about the look & feel of our branding materials before we produce them so you can use them for a longer period of time than just one event. Don’t hand out big notebooks, but smaller ones or just a few pieces of paper. Usb-sticks can be formatted and used again. Just think about how much merchandise you would have if you never throw anything away but recycle it!

Planning an event, congress or incentive costs a lot of money, planning and stress. Why not partner up with another company to ‘share’ your event. You don’t have to have your event at the same day, but you can use each others venues, materials etc.

Food & drinks
Of course you want to serve your attendees great beverages and food. But before you go crazy ordering caviar and bottles of bubbles, think for a second. You can decrease the amount of plastic by serving glasses instead of plastic and use real cutlery. Water glasses filled with water from a bigger water cooler instead of serving small water bottles could save you a few trash cans full with waste. And, you don’t really need to single pack every sandwich in plastic. Doggy bags are always a good idea, you don’t want to throw away good food! Take the doggy bogs home or deliver them at a homeless centre.

What other things does your company do to decrease the carbon footprint?