Regular columnist and agency expert Des Mclaughlin makes some 2018 meetings predictions
Technology will continue be the driving force in shaping meetings and events in 2018 but organisers must also ensure that the delegate’s physical experience improves. Oh, and expect the unexpected.
Data becoming increasingly valuable
As agents and venues continue to be squeezed around their cost margins, most have yet to tap in to a very lucrative revenue stream – the data they possess. Businesses love data and can’t get enough of it.
Instagram was sold to Facebook for $1bn. Facebook (currently valued at $130bn) wanted Instagram for its 30m users and their data which could then be sold on to advertisers. Working on the sale price Facebook valued Instagram’s users pictures, locations and friendships at $33 dollars each. Not bad for a company with 13 staff and zero revenue.
Your business will be collecting data that has a value – you just need to work out how to monetise it. Maybe this is easier said than done but for those who can find the answer surely riches await.
Rise in demand for unusual meetings space
Meetings are now increasingly about the delegate experience and this means offering them something new whenever possible. Hotel meeting rooms do not generally inspire and agents will be under increased pressure to find alternative venues with space that does. Food and beverage needs to improve too and really should be of restaurant standard. The days of refreshment breaks with flasks of luke warm coffee that have been standing around for hours, served with stale biscuits surely cannot continue.
The event app is king
As apps become increasingly sophisticated there now seems little reasons to be using anything else for meetings. Emails and spread sheets have had their day. Delegates can now register, receive their joining instructions and hand outs through an event app.
Voting, tweeting, bios, surveys and measurement can all be conducted through an app.
With Apple launching facial recognition on the iPhone X, I would also expect to see this feature to become a key part of registration and security at events. Apple haven’t invested so heavily in facial recognition without believing it’s the future and they are almost always right. If an app is not central to your event in 2018 you need to ask yourself why.
Finding employees to become harder
Salaries in our industry have remained pretty static and at the same time we are experiencing a record number of people in employment – not good for those looking to recruit.
The hospitality industry has long struggled to attract staff due to its poor pay, long hours, lack of training and career development opportunities. Many of our staff have traditionally come from oversees but, as Brexit looms, EU nationals will surely be more reluctant to come to the UK and this will then create a further staffing shortage.
Let’s hope the rise of robotics will eventually fill this void but in the meantime expect businesses to struggle, which in turn will impact on the quality of service offered. If your business is not yet paying staff the living wage, 2018 may well be the year this decision is made for you.