These five megatrends will undoubtedly influence both corporate and association meetings in the coming year:
1. The Sharing Economy
Airbnb, the platform for renting rooms online, now has more rooms than Hilton Worldwide, according to Peter Fisk of Geniusworks, who identified “Shared Experiences” as one of his top 2015 trends. This new way of booking rooms has begun to—and will continue to—impact association meetings and room blocks, as attendees choose to find their own accommodations.
2. Socially Conscious Brands
Trendwatching.com’s Top 10 Trends for 2015 reports that 73 percent of Millennials believe that businesses should share a point of view about issues. The same number feel that businesses should influence others to get involved in an issue. This expectation will shape planners’ choices of industry suppliers, from event planners to hotels. Among attendees, there will be a growing expectation of CSR and green initiatives as an element of both corporate and association meetings.
3. Smartphones Everywhere
With the latest technology advances, smartphones will be used in new contexts and environments, says Forbes magazine. Along with wearables, smartphones will offer connected screens in the workplace and in public. This could translate into attendees experiencing multiple sessions at the same time, or attending some sessions from outside the meeting room. Meeting industry tech expert Corbin Ball calls them “the Swiss army knives of meetings. They will do way more than replace paper; they will be principal engagement, networking and feedback tools. They will provide an unprecedented amount of analytics to improve future events—a goldmine of information on what participants like/dislike, where they are going and basically every other transaction.”
4. Real-Time Translation
In December, Skype released the first iteration of its real-time translation system for spoken English and Spanish. Look for additional languages soon, according to Discovery.com, which identified this as a top tech trend. There are also new apps, such as WordLens, that enable real-time augmented reality translations of signs in multiple languages. “The days of the UN-style interpretation booths in the back of the room for international events may be numbered,” says Ball. The potential impact is enormous for meetings with attendees from around the globe.
5. Pay Before You Play
Baum & Whiteman’s 2015 F&B report predicts more hotels and restaurants opening up the option for people to reserve a table—and even pre-order dinner—from a mobile device that also tracks how long it will take to get there. Next up could be paying up front for just about anything for planners and their attendees.