« Tax Breaks for Job Hunters | Main | Demographics In Flux »

Predictions for 2008

Posted on December 03, 2007

By Joan Eisenstodt

For a number of years, as the end of a year approached, Meeting News would ask some of us in the industry what our thoughts were on the year that was ending and what we 'predicted' for the coming year.  In December, individuals begin to think about the new calendar year and the resolutions they will make.   

As I sat down to write this week's guru, so many thoughts went through my head about what is important and what, in this last month of 2007, we could think about as we begin to wind down this year and gear up for the next.  (Of course, many of us are dealing with those dreaded 31 December contract deadlines so maybe we haven't yet focused on 2008!) This week, I want to look at the professional and the personal - how various aspects of our work and our lives impact meeting outcomes and how aspects of our lives and those of others impact how we work and how we behave. 

I think there is a long list of unfinished meetings business, some of which includes:
Meeting design
Program delivery
Ethics awareness and compliance
Meeting risk assessment and contingency planning
Contracts and negotiations
Selling, buying and booking intelligently
Changing demographics

There are also personal issues that many of us face - employment, health and wellness, care-giving, insurance, housing, education and more.

This week, I want to look at some of these issues and provide some questions to ask ourselves and each other as we begin to think about where we are and what we will do during the rest of 2007. Maybe each of us can begin to list questions we want to answer and have answered in 2008.  I hope you will join me in discussions about these issues, providing your thoughts, opinions and insights.  And if my lists have missed something that is critical to you, talk about it.  We all need to broaden our views about what this industry is, will be and how we get there.

Let's start with meeting design and program delivery.
I have maintained, and others agreed, that there is some reason that meetings (conventions and conferences in particular) are modeled after grammar (grade) school and even secondary school, and sadly, even college.  The time periods, the formatting, the rows of chairs or desks - all transferred from school to meetings.  We even have a 'lunch room' were we have to behave (because there is often a speaker) rather than having the meaningful conversations we'd prefer.

What is remarkable is that few meeting participants (including those in the meetings industry) are challenging these typical meetings.  Facilities are still behind in offering the ability to set rooms or other spaces in ways that encourage learning and interaction.

PCMA (the Professional Convention Management Association - www.pcma.org) has its annual meeting in early January.  PCMA has, for a number of years, added more experiential learning into their meetings.  PCMA's "Masters Series" and "Executive Edge" are both geared to planners and suppliers with more experience and are designed to inspire different thinking.  I’m pleased that PCMA agreed to a book club session Bill Host and I will facilitate, using Dan Pink's "A Whole New Mind" as the discussion book and taking some of the exercises from the book to use in the session.

MPI (Meeting Professionals Intl. - www.mpiweb.org) is finalizing the design for the MPI PEC (Professional Education Conference)/North America in Houston in February.  MPI's theme is "Meet Different."  They are trying different formatting including that of the exhibits which will be set differently and that MPI hopes exhibitors and buyers will use differently.  My hope is that they work closely with the exhibitors to train them about seeing space differently and thus interacting with clients differently.

I was asked by a colleague "What if the industry's professional organizations try something and it fails?"  I said I hoped, in some ways, some of the experiments do fail and that it leads to deeper discussions about what will change the models with which we are so familiar and how will we help facilities and their owners bring a new mindset to the use of their space. 

My commitment to this industry is to keep encouraging and facilitating change; to move learning at meetings to a new level of inventiveness; to helping those with different learning styles and needs succeed. 

What have you done that failed? What did you learn from the failure?  Who was involved in analyzing what happened?  From what was gleaned from analyzing the failure, what changes were made?  What successes did you have in delivery new and different education - even if it seemed minor, like setting a room at crescent rounds v. schoolroom?  How did your audience react?  When working with speakers, did you begin to think of them as 'learning facilitators' v. 'platform speakers'?  In using "subject matter experts" (SMEs), what new methods did you try to bring out their expertise without having them lecture to an audience? 

Share your failures and the learning from those and your successes and what made a difference in how people learned at a meeting you hosted or planned.  We can learn from each other as the year begins to close and the new year opens new opportunities.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Predictions for 2008:


James Amerson


Something I have been very curious about but have never been sure how to put in question form concerns the meetings industry with regard to regional economics. After the events of 2005, the Gulf Coast regional meetings industry was topsy turvy to say the least. I know that most large associations think nationally but the affects of that year with regard to the 5 Gulf States and to a great degree Georgia have never been measured collectively (I am guessing here). The New Orleans Convention Authority recently posted their figures for 2006 and it was not good but has steadily improved in 2007. But all those lost meetings went somewhere. The Baton Rouge area has exploded with meetings/small conventions and I am guessing there are other 2nd/3rd tier cities in the Gulf Coast region that experienced grow as well.

My question revolves around the topic of immerging destinations for meetings and I guess that is not solely about the Gulf Coast. How do smaller cities compete for meeting dollars if groups were ‘forced’ to use that city because of a disaster in their first choice city or they did not have budgets that would allow them to use 1st tier cities.

Joan Eisenstodt

James .. you asked:
>>My question revolves around the topic of immerging destinations for meetings and I guess that is not solely about the Gulf Coast. How do smaller cities compete for meeting dollars if groups were ‘forced’ to use that city because of a disaster in their first choice city or they did not have budgets that would allow them to use 1st tier cities. <<

Alas, I have no good answer - and think it is a topic that needs discussion. I do think that, in addition to budgets, that lift is going to play a critical part in what we all do w/ meetings. The airlines' recent announcement that they are cutting 4% of their flights is going to wreak havoc w/ meetings. Am hoping others will pick up this discussion and run w/ it as well.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Previous Gurus

January 2009

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31