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5 Meeting Trends that Will Prioritize People in 2018

IMEX Group predicts the coming year will see meetings focus more on participant needs.

The IMEX Group is predicting that meetings in 2018 will be all about bringing humanity back. Here are the five trends it says will put people at the heart of today’s issues:

1. Security
With the mass shooting in Las Vegas that happened just prior to the 2017 IMEX America event, still top of mind, the IMEX organizers are convinced that the industry must stay vigilant, resilient, and unified on the need for globally recognized and agreed-upon security standards for both show organizers and venues. “Attendees and staff at meetings and events of all types need all the confidence and reassurance that organizers and venues can give them that everything possible has been done to keep them safe,” IMEX states in a release.

2. Tourism Pushbacks and the Weaponization of Travel
The fast rise of Airbnb and Uber have increased tourist travel to many cities—and is now becoming a bit too much of a good thing for some residents. According to IMEX, “There has been an outcry from people who feel that too much tourism is damaging their communities and their lives.” Combine this trend with the “weaponization” of travel through political issues such as the controversial “bathroom bills” in some states, and participants may find themselves not feeling very welcome when they come to town for your meeting. IMEX says the meetings industry must continue to define the unique direct and indirect benefits of events, and incentive travel as distinct from leisure tourism.

3. Women on the Rise
Citing an “overwhelming response” to IMEX’s joint research project with tw tagungswirlschaft on women in the events industry, IMEX believes the spotlight in 2018 will shine on the role of women in the industry. One way the IMEX Group is supporting that trend is the launch of the She Means Business conference that will take place on EduMonday the day before IMEX Frankfurt opens in May 2018.

4. The “Age of Anxiety”
There’s a reason why the fidget spinner is “the perfect metaphor for children of today,” said Alex Williams in the New York Times last summer. And it’s not just kids, of course—a survey by IMEX and Meeting Professionals International found that 95 percent of meeting professionals felt at least some level of stress at work. Everyone is feeling more stress as our hyperconnected world keeps us constantly looped in on every issue, from terrorist acts to new technology. It’s up to show organizers and meeting professionals to bring humanity back, at least during the event, by providing white space for mental regrouping and otherwise supporting participants’ health and wellness. 

5. The Rise of the Robot
One thing people may be stressing about is that their jobs could one day be replaced by artificial intelligence–powered robots. While meeting professionals are happily automating many of the administrative aspects of meeting planning and implementation, it’s important to remember that, “At its heart, this industry exists to bring people together face-to-face in effective ways to help them achieve business and transfer ideas, to learn from one another and to build relationships,” according to the release. While they must stay current with how AI and robotics are affecting their constituents’ lives and work, meeting professionals also must keep that human element at the forefront in everything they do with their events.

Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group, says, ”This is, as often said, ‘a people industry’ and while we promote and support technology, we must take note of these trends, and look after our people, their health, their safety, their sense of fulfilment, and their futures.”



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