The Brave New World Of Meetings Management

Have you ever been to an amusement park or tourist area where there were a bunch of fortune tellers enticing you with promises of a glimpse into your future?  Recently I’ve read a ton of prognostications about what 2011 will bring, and StarCite has even offered our own predictions of trends.  

Oooh, I See Myself on YouTube

So what predictions have resonated with me?  Well, certainly the return of business and meetings travel, higher spending and all that.

But I was intrigued to read about a few top predictions from Houston-based hospitality management firm Benchmark Hospitality -- many of which confirm conversations with my industry colleagues and StarCite customers, as well as anecdotal evidence I'm seeing daily. I'll share:

- The ebbing of the "sacrosanct" complete meeting package (CMP) and the birth of the flexible meeting package (FMP), as corporations look to save money and stick to extremely scrutinized budgets. I don't think all-inclusive is dead or will expire, it's just learning to co-exist with the new reality in our industry.

- Growth in occupancy at hotels and higher rates, but not without customers getting something in return -- value-added services, such as complimentary web access, flexibility when it comes to cancellations and attrition clauses, forgiving resort fees. You get the picture. I hope this turns out to pick up steam, as it would certainly be a welcome change from being nickled and dimed to death by the airlines.

- If you're a presenter, don't be shocked to see yourself on YouTube five seconds after you leave the podium, as attendees are increasingly posting their experiences online. Social media use at meetings is getting more popular, and will continue. The tricky part here, if you're a meetings manager, is to make sure you manage, regulate, create a policy around what you're attendees are putting (and discussing) online. The potential for damage to your brand is just too great if the content is inappropriate or gives away trade secrets or business plans (which are commonly discussed at internal-only events).

- Healthcare is one of the industries expected to boost meetings in 2011, along with financial services, education and technology. Great. All the more important that meetings managers at healthcare companies, pharmas and medical device makers bone up on the new federal requirements for compliance when it comes to meetings-related payments to health care providers.  Again -- brand damage potential is nasty and fines are huge for non compliance. Check out this StarCite whitepaper for details of the legislation.

Welcome to the brave new world of meetings management!

Kevin Iwamoto is vice president of enterprise strategy at StarCite. This post is syndicated from his blog, Strategic Meetings Management.