2011. Sounds fresh. Suddenly, we have faith, once again, that a new year brings new opportunities. We go on with recommitment and excitement, pushing away the wariness and burdens of the used-up year. It’s hard to remember the start of 2010, let alone the beginning of the last decade.
In 2000, we breathed a sigh of relief that Y2K didn’t result in a global technological crash as predicted, but the pace of change made us gasp. The Internet was growing faster than our capacity to absorb it. As the economy picked up at the end of 2003, the Web became more than an information vehicle; it was now a means of reaching customers and attaining new revenue streams. In 2008 and 2009, the meetings and travel industry seemed to come to maturity as it weathered its perfect storm, a combination of the economic downturn, bad press, and air travel complications. The social media craze became a universal phenomenon, opening more and more channels to reach attendees.
Innovation continues to be the word of the moment. What’s ahead? More.
Here’s a brief look at what the pundits and surveys predict.
•Mobile devices will be used increasingly to reach and engage audiences before, during, and after meetings. Mobile apps will be customized for individual events and programs to communicate with attendees, primarily to deliver time-sensitive information like changes in itineraries and other announcements, encourage audience interaction, and track audience response.
•Social media tools and networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn will become an increasingly important component of any meeting planner. Trend forecasters say 2011 will bring greater use of technology to connect clients and meeting managers during the planning stages of events and engage attendees year-round.
•Computer kiosks that provide meeting-goers the opportunity to Tweet during events and Twitter boards that stream live updates also will continue to grow in popularity (at least until digital tablets take over). The demand for charging stations goes along with this trend.
•Comprehensive registration tracking and reporting will become more prevalent through barcode scanning and RFID and may soon include more customized audience tracking tools.
•Green meetings are coming into full bloom with demands beyond LEED-certified facilities and recyclable products to include locally sourced food, water refill stations, and reusable plants for centerpieces in place of cut flowers.
•Big: Hotels, casinos, and convention centers are growing. Besides getting faster, the world of meetings is getting bigger, at least the arenas are. The venue possibilities are over the top, from The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas to the Palace of Versailles, slated to become a grand hotel by 2012.
•Pink. That’s the new color of 2011—specifically Honeysuckle, according to Pantone Color Institute. Executive Director Leatrice Eiseman says, “In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits.” The uplifting hue is described as a vibrant reddish pink. Imagine the possibilities.
We’ve got many ideas and story ideas lined up for 2011, but we want to hear yours as well. Please call, e-mail, friend us on Facebook, and let us know what you’re doing that’s new and exciting this year. You’ll also find more trends and life stories about how other planners use them in our upcoming issues.