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December 16 2013

5 Key Takeaways From 2013

By David McMillin

2013 takeaways

It’s been a busy year in the meetings industry. New technologies have transformed the attendee experience, and new regulations have created new challenges for the planning process. As you gear up for a successful 2014, here are five key lessons to remember from the past year.

1)  It’s time to get down with big data.

Everyone’s talking about data -- with good reason. While headlines about how the government tracks personal data have created concerns for some individuals, there are plenty of positives to what monitoring attendees can do for meeting planners and trade show organizers. From helping sell more sponsorship dollars to creating a more customized experience for each member of your audience, data can deliver new revenue opportunities and create more loyal attendees.

SEE ALSO: The Risks and Rewards of Big Data

2)  You need to speak up.

From sequestration cuts that have already created trouble for meeting planners to new legislation currently being debated in Washington, D.C., 2013 proved that many lawmakers are still failing to recognize the real value of the meetings industry. Many meeting planners and trade show organizers rely on representatives from federal agencies to help shape a well-rounded conversation with attendees from the private sector. In 2014, the meetings industry needs more voices to sound the rallying cry about why meetings matter.

SEE ALSO: Federal Budget Cuts Cancel More Meetings

3)  The conversation about connectivity is changing.

As more attendees bring more devices to your meetings, helping them stay connected is no longer an added perk -- it’s a necessity. All that bandwidth isn’t going to come for free, though. Hotels and convention centers are upgrading their networks to deliver high-speed access, and meeting planners must come to the table with high-level knowledge about their technology needs.

SEE ALSO: 5 Reasons Why Free Wi-Fi Might Not Be The Best Deal

4)  There are opportunities waiting overseas for you.

Planners and suppliers alike are working to capitalize on the potential to connect with business professionals in emerging markets. From Marriott’s recent agreement to add 10,000+ hotel rooms in sub-Saharan Africa to one US-based organization’s efforts to welcome attendees from 130 countries to its annual meeting, that work is paying off. If you haven’t developed an international engagement strategy for your organization, you’re falling behind your competition.

SEE ALSO: 9 Steps to Making International Attendees Feel at Home

5)  Your hybrid deserves more attention.

Your primary focus may be the face-to-face component of your meeting, but some of your attendees aren’t going to be able to make the trip. However, they still need to learn,  and they’re growing accustomed to participating via their computer screens. As hybrid technology continues to grow more sophisticated, it’s important to determine how to get your audience involved virtually -- and how to monetize their participation in the meeting

SEE ALSO: What Happens When You Charge For Your Hybrid Meeting?

2013 is nearly in the rearview. Now, it’s time to look ahead. Click here to learn which four trends will impact meeting professionals in 2014.

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