The hottest meeting trends for 2014 – part 2

With a brand new year lying ahead, we are all looking for opportunities to improve our business and tackle challenges. Therefore it is important to be aware of recent developments and growing trends. In my last blogpost started to make a prediction about the most relevant trends for 2014. Here is part 2 of my conclusions.

Please let me know how you feel about this.

pope-election_a-sea-of-screens

Green meetings
Like hybrid events, sustainability has been a growing trend for years affecting all industries. Benefits like reduced costs and better PR have driven many companies to develop and implement a strategy for more eco-friendly and socially responsible businesses. Since meetings and events have a high pollution factor, planners and suppliers are forced to look for more sustainable alternatives. During the last years, many suppliers, including hotels, venues and caterers have made huge steps to provide greener meetings. This increases pressure on other parties: planners have to acknowledge and support these efforts by making sustainability a serious selection factor for suppliers.

WiFi for everyone
Compared to the US, European venues are a bit stingy with providing free, stable WiFi. However, planners and visitors will more frequently expect this service. Visitors want to share pictures and impressions of the event with the world outside. Planners want to support the sharing, since it is the best promotion they could dream of. Venues are still hesitating because they fear the high costs. Planners can help them to earn their investments back by making free WiFi an selection factor for venues.

Real time analytics
Even though the crisis seems to start fading out, ROI was still one of the most heard words this year. Meetings planners feel more and more pressure to report the effciency of every cent they invested. As a consequence, we are getting crazy about numbers. Any factor that can be measured is carefully monitored and analyzed. Thanks to modern technology, measuring goes better than ever. Like Julius Solaris writes in his blog, “Those startups that offer live analytics such as heat maps, preferences and check-in based analytics will make an impact in 2014.“

Crowdsharing
Like crowdsourcing becomes a popular method to gather ideas, crowdsharing will become the new way to spread them. Instead of promoting your event on your own channels exclusively, you let your own fans do the work. They can spread your message quicker and further, than your marketing could ever reach. Planners can use this trend by providing visitors with as much sharable content as possible. Provide special, funny or exciting experiences to get their phones with camera function out of their pockets and leave the rest to them. Crucial condition: free WiFi.

What do you think about these trends? I’d love to hear your opinion about them. All feedback is welcome, so don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

The hottest meeting trends for 2014 – part 1

I hope you enjoyed your holidays and found some time to relax. A brand new year is waiting for us and we want to make it even better than the last one. I did a little research to make a prediction about what 2014 might hold for corporate events. Here is the first part of my results, the other one will follow next week.

130331 Blog Holland Hybrid events from local to global

Gone are the times when top managers and scholars determined the leading topics, which should be discussed during business meetings. Since people are getting more selective (where and how to send their spare time), content of meetings needs to be more appealing to the target group. But what does your target group want? Crowdsourcing is a process to collect opinions, ideas and content from a large group of people. It is a great method to determine relevant topics and questions within your target group, which helps you create an inspirational and informative program.

Conference and event apps

Just like Julius Solaris described in his Event App Bible, more and more meeting and event planners are searching for options to implement apps into their event. I expect this trend to grow in 2014. The app functions vary, from customized agendas, interactive tools and digital check-in. While the interest in this topic is big, the relevance of an app can still be discussed. Meeting planners have to ask themselves how their event and visitors would profit from an app. For many of them the cost/benefit ratio might not work out.

Hybrid meetings

Hybrid meetings have been a hot topic for a while and they are still moving on. With busier schedules and lower travel budgets, more multinational corporates will choose to connect their local meetings with each other digitally and more participants will follow the event from a distance. The technology for excellent audio and video streams is getting better. In the next step we need to improve the hospitality for online participants with exclusive content and services.

Audience engagement and networking

We are living in extremely noisy times and everybody suffers at least a bit from information overload. Nobody is waiting for another lecture during a meeting. Thanks to the worldwide web, knowledge is accessible for all of us, but since the stream of information never stops, no one is able to retain and apply it. Not only do meetings offer the opportunity to get away from the office environment, they also give us the chance to exchange with others. In conversation with like-minded people, we increase our learning capacities and improve our social networks. Therefore, networking will become a top priority, which brings meetings back to their essential elements: bringing people together.

What do you think about these trends? I’d love to hear your opinion about them. All feedback is welcome, so don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

Find the best venue for your kick off meeting

Only a few weeks to go before the year 2013 comes to an end. Companies all over the world are planning kick-off events and christmas parties. Most of these events will take place in a special venue, away from the familiar office environment. When choosing a venue for your event, many factors play a role, like location, price, size and relationships with the suppliers. While all these factors are important, many planners forget another crucial aspect.

As the Dutch meeting planners Mike van der Vijver and Eric de Groot write in their book „Into the heart of meetings“, the venue you choose can have a substantial impact on the success of your meeting. The size and look of the room, a building and its surroundings influence, how we feel and behave: when you enter a church you act differently than when you visit a pub. Use the impact of your venue to support the goals of your kick-off event. Make yourself clear which message you want to bring across during the meeting and then choose your venue wisely. In this blogpost I share some tips for great venues when…

Blog Holland Venues Mill

… you look back on a very successful year:

You got the big project this year, you made more profits than all competitors or you celebrated a 10th anniversary. Big milestones in the history of your company deserve a special location. Historical venues often have an impressive and festive charisma and your guests will instinctively know, that this is a special event.

Hidden Secret: ‘Kyck over den Dyck’ is a 300-year old windmill close to Rotterdam. In contrast to deluxe meeting rooms, the mill has a warm and cosy atmosphere, which is perfect for small celebrations.

More venues: Holland has many great historical venues. Click here to view my favourites.

Blog Holland venues creative

… you search for new product ideas:

You want to use 2014 to come up with innovative products and services. Therefore, your employees need inspiration that brings their creative juices to flow. To stimulate their creative and imaginary brain cells, you must take them away from the familiar and common and show them something extraordinary.

Hidden Secret: The Playing circle in Amsterdam can help you get your employees out of their routine circle. Next to an old rubber factory, a concert hall and a theatre, this group can offer you a variety of stylish venues with a homely charme.
More venues: Since many Dutch people work in the creative industry, Holland has a variety of creative venues. Check my tips for inspiration.

Blog Holland venues industrial

… you need to cut costs.

Low budget for 2014? Or do you think that your company could work more efficiently? Your employees might have great ideas how to cut costs and save money but you need to bring them into the right mood. Industrial venues are a great place to talk about development and efficiency. Old factories remind us of the great productivity and thriving economy from earlier times and stimulate goal-oriented thinking.
Hidden Secret: Van Nelle in Rotterdam was a great coffee, tea and tobacco factory and its building is European Cultural Heritage. The spectacular views from the tea room will impress visitors.
More venues: Holland has many industrial venues that show off the new Dutch Realism Movement. Let me show you my favourites.

Blog Holland green

… you want to become more sustainable.

More and more companies are discovering the benefits of  sustainability. If you want to jump into this trend, you will need the support of the whole company. A natural, green venue in a beautiful place could help stimulate their green thinking.
Hidden Secret: The Glass House is a pleasant meeting place surrounded by peaceful gardens. Part of this venue was built in a former greenhouse.

More venues: Looking for a green venue in Holland? My digital venue finder can help you.

I hope that these tips help you find the right venue for your kick-off event. Do you have other suggestions for great venues? Please let me know.

Who is your green meetings pioneer?

Column Holland Green Meetings

Green meetings and events are on the move. Thanks to the Dutch chapter of the Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC) I get endless tips and advices for more sustainable meetings. This is great, because I truly believe that the future of our industry is green and I’m not alone. Many hotels, restaurants and caterers are Green Key- or Green Globe-certified and still looking for more ways to be eco-friendly.

As every trend, green meetings need a pioneer, a role model who shows us how to do it. For the event industry these are ID&T (Welcome to the Future Festival) and Whole Earth Festival in Davis, California. Do we have such a pioneer in the corporate meetings sector? Can you name a meeting planner you would suggest as a role model for green meetings? Why did they impress you and what can we learn from them? I would love to hear your opinion on that topic.

Sustainable meetings: numbers tell the tale of green

In the last weeks we have explored a lot of options to make meetings and events more sustainable. Every step that you take towards green meetings, is a step in the right direction. But in the end you might want to know what the result of all your efforts looks like: numbers tell the tale. Therefore you will have to measure; even more if you are aiming for the Green Meetings Award. But how can we measure sustainability of an event? In this final post on green meetings I collected some suggestions on how to start with measurement.

Blog Holland Green Meetings Measure baseline

Establish a baseline

Before you start changing anything, you need a baseline to compare your future results against. Do you want to save energy and water? Would you like to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by transportation? The baseline serves as a starting point to set goals for future meetings and tells you whether you are making progress and how effective your actions are. Thus, check the green performance of your recent meetings before you get start them.

Blog Holland Green Meetings Measure Travel

Counting kilometers

As I explained in my previous posts, transportation and travel cause CO2 emissions that contribute to global warming. You can reduce these emissions by minimizing the the total travel and transportation distances. Monitor the travel kilometers for your delegates and transportation of your suppliers. You can use the Carbon Footprint Calculator for this. If you are planning to offset your CO2 emissions you can include the compensated kilometers in your measurements.

Blog Holland Green Meetings Measure Catering

Check the food

In my blogpost about green catering I discussed the main aspects of green food. Besides limiting the transportation issue by working with local foods, you can measure the percentage of seasonal products used. How many of the purchased products were labelled Fair Trade, biological or organic? All these numbers indicate how green your catering is.

Blog Holland Green Meetings Measure garbage

The weight of waste

Of course you can simply measure the total amount of waste your meeting produced per delegate. But there are more things to measure. What about the packaging material you purchased together with the supplies? How many items were reusable or recyclable? Including these factors in your measurement will give you more particular insights into your waste management.

Show no show

It is a frustrating issue but you will also have to attend to the no show percentage of your meeting. No show is an important indication for the amount of wasted resources.

Blog Holland Green Meetings Measure olympics

The ISO 14001 Standard

Nobody bars you from establishing you own green parameters. However, using existing, internationally acknowledged standards makes your measurements more transparent and trustworhty. One example is the ISO 14001 standard which was used to achieve the sustainability goals of the Olympics 2012 in London. One of their targets was reducing water consumption by 40% and carbon by 50%. They duly delivered at 58% and 60% respectively. This isn’t just great news for the environment but also reduced costs massively. On the other hand, the measurements indicate where sustainability can be improved. For London they showed that the target for use of renewable energy was missed by 9 percent.

Stop guessing!

In my opinion, measuring is a crucial part of green meetings. What do you think. Do you have any experiences with green measurments? Please share them with me.

Sustainable meetings: a green trophy for a green meeting

So far we have discussed many possibilities to ‘engreen’ the meeting industry, including travel, catering, waste, no show and hotels. Meeting planners that demonstrated intensive efforts to reduce the environmental impact of meetings and conferences will be rewarded for their good will. Next to economical benefits and a public image boost the planner can be honoured with the Green Meetings Award, an initiative powered by IMEX and the GMIC.

Blog Holland Green Meetings Award

The Green Meetings Award is annually handed to a meeting planner who put an exceptional effort into the organization of a specific green meeting through design, planning, implementation and evaluation. There are two award categories: the Large Meeting Award for citywide events (5.000 to 25.000 or more attendees) and the Small to Medium Meeting Award.

Curious what you have to do until you can put that trophy on your desk? Let’s have a look at the evaluation criteria. These concern not only the sustainability of the event itself. As a winner, you have also significantly contributed to the general improvement of future green meetings.

Blog Holland Green Meetings Sustainability Planning

Green planning

This refers to the planning process of the meeting and requires that you have identified the main sustainability issues of your meeting. Based on these issues you have established criteria for measuring and monitoring the environmental impact, such as energy and water use, green house gas emissions and waste production. Use these criteria to set defined goals and describe how you are going to achieve them. Additionally, the judges expect you to involve suppliers and other stakeholders in sustainability issues by making green arrangements with venues or caterers for example.

Blog Holland Green Meetings Award Sustainability Performance

Green performance

The judges will review the actual environmental performance of the meeting. The evaluation of your established criteria and methods has to show that the environmental impact of your meeting has been reduced to a minimum. Thus you have significantly reduced your energy and water consumption compared to previous/other meetings and prevented as much CO2 emissions and waste production as possible. For the economic aspect, it is important that you keep the operational costs of your meeting as low as possible or that you support local markets by working with local suppliers.

Blog Holland Green Meetings Award Communication

Green communication

Organizing a perfectly green meeting will not earn you the award if you won’t share your achievements with others. Sustainable meetings go hand in hand with social responsibility. The judges want to see that you share your achievements and methods with others. Spread the green message to inspire other planners and contribute to the improvement of future green meetings. Show a general commitment for environmental issues within the meeting industry by supporting and educating other planners and suppliers.

Are you the winner in 2014?

The submission period for the 2013 award has elapsed. The winner will be presented during the IMEX Gala on 22 May.  Do you think that you are a truly green meeting planner? Then nominate yourself (or let someone nominate you) for the 2014 award.

I wish you good luck!