Over 3,700 buyers and exhibitors recently attended AIBTM 2013 in Chicago, where over 30 hours of content programming were devoted to the theme of “Defining the Future of Meetings… Together.” Having had the pleasure of serving as a keynote speaker on the topic of innovation and change in the meetings, incentives and business travel industries at the tradeshow’s CEO Summit, one thing quickly became clear. After speaking with several top industry leaders, it’s obvious that even if we had 300 hours to cram in to discuss the latest and greatest technology trends impacting the world of destination and event management, it still wouldn’t have been enough.
From virtual and hybrid meetings to online video streaming, live audience polling, and custom apps of every shape and size for functions from networking to 3D maps, the amount of high-tech solutions available to today’s corporate meeting planner continues to skyrocket. Also apparent is the growing role and impact social media content marketing, and responsive site design (e.g. websites optimized for both desktop and mobile usage) will play going forward when planning and researching business events. For those whose heads are spinning with all the options coming down the virtual pike, here’s the good news: Most new tools and services fall under the following five key practical areas of innovation, each of which is easy to remember, and can help boost your planning and production efforts.
Among the most prevalent high-tech themes discussed at AIBTM: The rise of ‘smart’ (Internet-connected) and mobile devices, all supporting on-demand downloads, real-time communications features, and options to create or share media. With over 1.2 billion sales of smartphones and tablets expected in 2013, event and venue websites shouldn’t just be optimized for these platforms (think smaller screens and more immediate user access), among attendees’ new primary research tools. Ongoing promotional programs and content should also be built that support corresponding formatting and bandwidth, higher viewing and consumption frequency, and one-touch sharing capabilities. Likewise, meetings and events can also be designed to allow for real-time social media sharing, messaging, or even taking polls of audience members right from the podium.
High-performance mobile computing
Thanks to chipmakers like AMD, Qualcomm, and NVIDIA, all growingly concentrating on such mobile solutions, set-top PC horsepower and graphics performance is also increasingly available from your pocket. Combined with universal access to cloud computing solutions including SlideShare, MightyMeeting and Prezi, this means pitching sponsors and strategic partners is suddenly easier than ever – assets and presentation materials can now be shared via portable screens. Nowadays, your desktop travels wherever you do, and – whether focused on engaging end-users or B2B clients – it’s painless to provide attendees with 3D floor plans or (via virtual or on-site video demos) offer advertisers firsthand tours of featured venues without hopping an international flight.
Media sharing and streaming
Not routinely recording programs or presentations on video? Stop selling your events and destinations short. Smartphones, tablets and low-cost HD camcorders now make it possible to quickly capture learning or announcements and create and share broadcast-quality video en masse at little cost. Businesses and venues of every size can now assemble learning libraries, build evergreen promotional assets, or even live-stream content using apps like Qik or Livestream at-will at little expense. Such initiatives pay lasting dividends by letting you easily extend the value of events and campaigns far beyond day-of activities and attendance.
Online, photo and video publishing
Given content’s growingly disposable nature – especially on mobile devices – it’s now obvious: Ongoing publishing efforts should be a part of every organization’s outreach programs. Events provide the perfect venue at which to tap experts, executives, and community leaders for learning, insights and advice which can be used to generate added value and help raise awareness all year long. As part of programs, workshops and events, ask all to share stories, provide hints and tips, and offer support or inspiration. Quotes and commentary can then be incorporated back into newsletters, mailers, trailers and more, providing year-long benefit.
Content and inbound marketing
Another key development this year: Search engines have become a core frontline for customer interaction, and among the primary touchpoints from which they research venues, event management resources and incentive travel solutions. In a world where businesses are growingly defined by their online footprint, suddenly, we’re all in the publishing business. Given data’s growingly disposable nature, content marketing efforts should be an ongoing part of promotional efforts. Happily, not only is your own enterprise filled with subject matter experts who can serve as ambassadors via blogs, newsletters or podcasts. Events provide the perfect venue at which to tap experts for learning, insights and advice. As part of programs, ask all to share best practices and tips, and offer support or inspiration. Quotes and commentary can then be incorporated back into newsletters, mailers, trailers and more, providing year-long benefit.