Delegates increasingly expect more integrated technology, social responsibility and opportunities to learn at conferences, a new report launced at Aime has shown.
The Future of Business Meetings Industry Report, which was revealed at the Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo 2017 in Melbourne, analyses how social and technology trends are shaping the future of the business events industry.
Commissioned by Melbourne Convention Bureau, the research is based on 147 survey responses and 14 in-depth interviews with industry experts.
The report suggests that the traditional conference attendee is shifting, as companies increasingly send those lower down the chain.
“It’s often been the top-tier professor or executives that have attended conferences,” says Karen Bolinger, CEO of MCB. “But now companies see the value in skilling a broad range of employees. Delegates range from junior, to mid-level, to executive-level.”
The younger generation brings with it certain expectations, with 92 per cent indicating that they expect technology to be integrated throughout an event.
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Social responsibility also looks to be an increasingly important part of future functions, with 76 per cent of respondents believing that attendees of the future will want more socially responsible events.
And with delegates becoming increasingly time poor and less able to attend events, their expectations on return for investment are likely to increase. Almost 90 per cent of respondents believe attendees of the future will expect more acquired knowledge from events.
Survey respondents expect most elements of business events to get shorter, including keynote presentations, individual programme length, and overall conference length.
The only area expected to increase is the length of networking time, with 64 per cent of respondents calling for longer.
According to Bolinger, over 75 per cent of respondents “agree that integrating fun into a conference experience is not just nice to have, but essential for conferences today”.
Respondents predict that the following challenges will mostly greatly affect the meetings industry over the next 15 years:
- Lack of time to travel and attend
- Destination costs
- Travel costs
Survey participants consider the following to be the most important channels of communication at future functions:
- Social media
Participants believe that the following programme formats will be most important in the future:
- Multi-space venues
- Virtual attendance
- TED-style talks
Main picture (from left): Peter King, chief executive of Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre; Karen Bolinger, CEO of Melbourne Convention Bureau; Penny Lion, general manager of Business Events Australia; Ian Wainwright, event director for Aime, Reed Travel Exhibitions