Now that the world has survived the apocalypse supposedly predicted by the Mayans, I thought I would submit my list of predictions on how meetings and events (M&E) will fare in 2013.
1. First (and most obvious), the general economy will remain weak and organizational expenditures will be closely scrutinized by management, stakeholders and the public.
This means that M&E budgets will remain tight and most organizations will want to ensure that the money they spend will generate a reasonable return.
Planners who can demonstrate that their events achieve objectives – generate revenue, build loyalty, increase sales, provide needed education and motivation, and/or stimulate the organizational culture – will be most successful.
2. The public and shareholders will often see M&E expenditures as a frivolous spend (which will prompt governments and organizations to make politically correct decisions instead of wise investments).
Event planners will need to demonstrate that they have spent money wisely and that they were not influenced by personal gain, reward points or any other factor that might be seen as unethical.
3. The ranks of independent planners will continue to grow. Two years ago, I predicted that there would be fewer independents, as organizations turned to large suppliers in an effort to take advantage of economies of scale.
I was incorrect. Since few companies have a corporate-wide policy governing the planning of events, decision-makers continue to turn to the cheapest providers of services (and this is often small companies or former corporate planners who were laid off during the recession and became independents).
4. Planner margins will continue to shrink. Too many planners competing for projects; an inability to differentiate services except by price; and a lack of professional standards in our industry all combine to drive prices and margins down.
5. Event content will be increasingly important and suppliers who can demonstrate how their services help achieve real long-term results will succeed, while those who are perceived as “fluff” will struggle.
Planners must become content experts – know what is available and be able to articulate why the inclusion of a specific team-building exercise or speaker will help achieve the desired objectives.
6. Price increases for transportation and at venues will promote more regional events and fewer large gatherings.
7. Networking will remain important both for planners and suppliers.
If your reputation is on the line for every event you work on, then you are going to turn to the people you know and trust.
8. My final prediction is as obvious as my first. Technology will continue to drive change in our industry – hybrid events, online events, on-demand events and virtual meetings will continue to supplement or replace traditional gatherings.
9. Perhaps one additional prediction – we will not be soon bored and there is no room for complacency if you want to be successful.