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Purposeful Planning – What SHOULD Be the 10 Top Meeting Trends of 2017

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Doreen Ashton Wagner
Greenfield Services Inc. 
MPI Ottawa Chapter
Around this time of year, there are a proliferation of posts about top trends. Sometimes these are based on research, other times more on the author’s views or opinions.

Notwithstanding my preference for prognostics based on data, one report I always check out is the Event Manager’s Blog "Top Trends." This year, it’s actually 10 trends on EACH of the following areas: Event Technology, Event Design (my fave), Destination & Venue Selection, and Social Media and Digital Marketing. Check it out here. It is REALLY worth it.

This Top 10 is different. Call it a wish list, a rant, call it whatever, here are the top 10 trends that I think SHOULD be happening for meetings in 2017:
  1. Smaller is better: Everyone is pushing for bigger and better. Maybe it’s human nature. But I find smaller, niche meetings serve my purpose better. I’m tired of the mega-conventions who try to be all things to all people. Give me customized content to my needs.
  2. Smaller is better #2: If the topic is more niche, it’s likely to draw people with whom I have more in common, and that means a higher degree of satisfaction. And if you’re truly purposeful about it, niche events may actually be easier to market ... you just have to do your research!
  3. Closer to home: I love travel. But as I’m (ahem) getting on in age, I’m not so interested in traveling far afield to attend business meetings. Unless they are really, really special (refer to trend #1), I attend meetings that are easy to get to.
  4. New in my neighborhood: Even though I’m staying close to home, it doesn’t mean I am OK with the same-old venue. If meetings are more intimate, they can be housed in different types of venues that I don’t know – think restaurant, museum, gallery, university tech hub ...
  5. Adventurous in flavor: And while you’re at it, can we please have something other than chicken? Or if it’s got to be chicken, how about tandoori or Szechuan or Moroccan? Diversity please!
  6. Honesty in marketing: Maybe I’m tired of marketing hype, or I’ve been to too many meetings. But when you call a meeting "innovative" or cutting-edge, it better bloody well be that. If you still have most of your breakouts with round tables and panel discussions, I’ll know you didn’t really mean it ...
  7. Honesty in content: It’s clear the recent U.S. election has unleashed a disdain for spin. So why are we still allowing things to be glossed over with the delivery of content? Scientific research thrives when the status quo is questioned. Have you allowed for your content to show a true debate? To disclose the many sides of an issue so people can form their own opinion?
  8. Shut up, please: I’m at a business meeting to connect with other people. Why do you insist on having a presentation at every meal when I’m trying to have a conversation – often in a darkened room where I can hardly even see my food?!  Meal times are meant for people to fill their tummies and connect. Period.
  9. Banning sponsor videos: So we’re getting better with the sea of logos on banners, but now we need to figure out how to do away with video loops touting this destination, that service or product. I don’t care how slick the video is. Make an impression on me with something else vs. something I can view online.
  10. Less Processed Food: OK, this one is totally self-serving. I’ve been on a nutritional journey, and I may sound a tad too evangelical here. But processed food equals BAD food in my book. Let’s stop it with muffins and danishes for starters. That stuff is just plain bad for you. At breakfast time, we especially we need WHOLE grains (how about quinoa flakes, oat bran or kamut?), protein (boiled eggs, cheese, yogurt that is NOT fat-free!) and fruit (whole apples, bananas, oranges ... they don’t even need to be cut or peeled!).
OK, that’s it for my rant! If you read down to here, thank you! And do yourself a favor. Go and check out the Event Manager’s Blog ... they really do have cool stuff in there.

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