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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A small etiquette guide for your office Christmas party

It’s the annual Christmas party of your company. Time to let your hair down, get drunk with your boss and speak your mind, right? You better don’t . Even if this event is called a party, you are still in a professional function and you should behave like that. Remember, that you’ll have to face your co-workers again after the holidays. Foolish behaviour can destroy your good reputation at this company like a sledgehammer. But this does not mean that you can’t have fun. With these tips you will make the best of the event.

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1.    Early birds

The most important function of an office Christmas party is to socialize and network with your colleagues. This works best during the early stage of a party, when the atmosphere is still relaxed. Grab your chance and chat with senior executives before it gets to hectic.

2.    Don’t be shy

You use to spend office parties in a corner with the people from your department? That’s not how you work on your career. Branch out, introduce yourself to co-workers you don’t know. You never know if you might profit from these new connections.

3.    Keep control

In case of alcohol, less is more.  Enjoy a drink or two but don’t lose control. Getting drunk at your office party will make you the target of nasty jokes at least until the next party. Besides, you might destroy all the good connections you built during the last year.

4.    Watch your tongue

Of course you can engage in more informal chats about family and hobbies and make an appropriate joke now and then. But no matter how much the atmosphere loosens up – be careful with your humour. Some jokes may offend people around you.

5.    Be nice to your boss

Maybe you had a rough year and you are frustrated about your job. Probably, you are annoyed by your boss. Whatever it is, keep it to yourself. Don’t hold forth about how bad your boss does his job and how you would run the company. Everybody would be grateful for your silence.

Last but not least: enjoy yourself. It still is a party. What was the biggest blunder you ever experienced during an office party? I’d love to share some funny stories.

Are you afraid of networking?

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I love them – many others hate them!

With so many social media users amongst us you should expect that we all perform pretty good at networking events. But as soon as you leave your meeting delegates to themselves they start feeling uncomfortable. Most will quickly join their friends and colleagues, some will hide behind their cell phones and some will try to make some awkward conversation with a random person.

All of the are missing the goal of the session: meeting new people with similar interests, exchange ideas and make new professional contacts. Why? Are we too introverted to get in touch with others? Very unlike. At parties, most of us have no problems to start a conversation with a foreigner. How does the party differ from the networking session? And how can we transfer party situation to business meetings?

Best shots from the UK Meetings Show 2013

I hope that you are fully recovered from the busy trade show days in London. I think it’s time to look back at a great time with many great people. Here is my personal selection photo selection from the UK Meetings Show. Which one is your favourite?

Tag yourself and win!

Have we made a photo together? Then this is your chance to enter my competition on Facebook and win a copy of the book Into the Heart of Meetings by Eric de Groot en Mike van der Vijver. Check my Facebook album for the instructions.

I hope that you all have arrived home safely and comfortably. It would be great if we could meet again in Las Vegas or Barcelona this year. Will you be there? Please let me know!

Ready to add some orange to the UK Meetings Show?

I’m on my way to London and guess what I’m bringing? A big bucket with orange paint to add some colour to the UK Meetings Show. Will you be there? Be welcome at my Holland stand but watch out: I can’t wait to throw some paint at you. But if you just bring a second set of clothes, we will have a lot of fun together. As a reward you will receive a personal oranged-splashed foto to remind you of the show.

IMG_0184Did you know that the colour orange helps you lose focus from your beaten track and see things from another point of view? Perfect for a meeting that is ought to bringt creative solutions! The Dutch are famous for doing things a little different than the rest of the world (maybe that’s we have chosen orange as our colour). Maybe the Dutch way of thinking could inspire your meeting delegates? In London you can try to add some orange to your way of thinking.

Will I meet your there?