Confex virtual seminars reveal what’s trending

The events market has better prospects over the next 12 months than at any other time since 2007, according to the audience mix of live and online delegates at the virtual seminar series at International Confex in London.  

Hosted by audience engagement specialists Crystal Interactive, a panel of international speakers from from Australia to Dubai, joined speakers live at the Show’s Industry Forum Theatre for a debate which concluded that while the boom times of 2007 is not set to return any time soon, 2011 is showing strong signs of recovery. China, India and Eastern Europe were singled out as growing markets for events business.

Online participants voted on industry trends and submitted questions.

There were sessions on how to engage with virtual audiences, a meetings technology update including using mobile technology for delegate and visitor networking, and a discussion of paperless meetings.

Crystal Interactive Managing Director Chris Elmitt, who facilitated the sessions, said: “In spite of the variety of subject matter a consistent theme emerged from the day’s seminars. This was the need to increase audience engagement and to harness the technologies and social media available to us to create long-lasting conversations with delegates – before, during and after the event.”

“CSR is a massive issue for Australian meeting planners – with environmental concerns heightened last year by the series of floods, cyclone and bush fires experienced across the country,” said Felicity Zadro, of Zadro Communications, who joined the debate from Down Under.

Chuck Levitan, VisionTree Software said Paperless meetings are getting closer. “As mobile phone technology allows delegates to receive conference information and input their own questions and feedback using their Smartphones,” he said.

“UBM Studios – the virtual division of Confex parent, UBM, produced over 100 virtual events in 2010 and sees the virtual format as friend rather than foe,” Nina Wright, from UBM Studios, pointed out.

Professional facilitator Ross Edmonds noted virtual and hybrid events required the same amount of preparation as live. “Organisers must ensure speakers rehearse properly and speakers need to be more articulate; messages in virtual formats need to be clearer and more concise.”  

“After two years of job losses, in which corporate leaders just didn’t know what to say to their people, 2011 is seeing the need to motivate staff again and prepare them for growth. Internal events are back on the agenda,” was the session input from the Simplygroup’s Marc Wright,

“The days of talking at people are over. Much greater attention is being devoted to ensuring that corporate messaging is tailored to specific internal audiences. Regional meetings are seeing customised content. There’s a greater investment in translation services than ever before,” added Kelly Kass, of Simply-communicate.com.

The debate heard that stateside the US meetings and events industry was building on the work of the Canadians to quantify the economic impact of the industry in order to have greater lobbying power. “The figure could reach US$1 trillion of indirect revenue this year,” according to Deborah Sexton, President and CEO, PCMA and PCMA Education Foundation.

“The meeting planner’s role has evolved over the recession as they are being asked to do more with less. They must now be able to understand the strategic significance of events (logistics is no longer enough). Over the recession MPI have also seen a new relationship forming between meeting planners and suppliers as they have worked more collaboratively to deliver events with tightened budgets,” Sexton added.

To check out the photos of Confex: click here.

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Paul Colston

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Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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