by Michael J. Shapiro | January 01, 2011

As current trends in meetings technology gain more traction across the industry, what changes will they likely bring? M&C asked several forward-thinking tech experts to share their projections.

1. Mobile apps for events will become true revenue generators. You may have heard the buzz about mobile apps' potential to bring in revenue, but up to this point a lot of app use has been in the experimental phase. "To be honest, enhanced listings haven't been picked up very aggressively by exhibitors," admits Bob Vaez, president and founder of Toronto-based 5Touch Solutions, which makes the EventMobi app. Sponsorship deals have been more successful, he notes, but because app use is still relatively new, those agreements haven't yet generated much revenue.

"I think that within the next one to two years, there will be a huge shift in thinking," adds Vaez. "Thus far, exhibitors are seeing a lot of value when enhanced app listings are offered to them for free." And that value, he says, is easily measured in the form of requested information, downloaded documents, click-throughs and the like. "We've been advising clients not to charge them up front," says Vaez. For the initial use, clients should collect analytics about how many attendees are using the app. "When you show them the numbers next year, that makes the sale a whole lot easier," he suggests.

2. Events will be one piece of a larger communications strategy. Social media strategists concur that an event is but one touchpoint of a year-round social media plan. "Most events are an explosion of content and ideas over one or two days," says Minneapolis-based event technology consultant Samuel J. Smith, "and it's hard for people to absorb all of that information. Social media and digital technology give us the tools to extend our events over weeks and months. So, content and ideas can be spread out further and more easily absorbed. We didn't do that for an event I did last year, but this year we are going to add a before and after strategy, so that we have that engagement throughout that entire experience."