by Loren G. Edelstein& Michael C. Lowe | January 16, 2013

 The Professional Convention Management Association's Convening Leaders kicked off Sunday evening in Orlando with an opening reception and private "Shamu Rocks" show. An estimated 3,800 meeting professionals are at the event, with final registration numbers expected later this week. The hybrid event also has online participants; as of last Friday about 700 had registered for the virtual experience, said Deborah Sexton, PCMA president and CEO. The organization's registration research has proven that many who participated virtually were influenced to come to the live event this year, said Sexton. During the convention, PCMA released a new report analyzing the future of trade shows, called "Scenarios for the Future: Convening Exhibits and Trade Show of 2016." The study provides insights into creating more impact with exhibit space based on five hypothetical perspectives. "The future of trade shows can't be predicted by conventional survey methodology," Liz Erikson, chair of the PCMA Education Foundation, said. "Rather than conducting traditional research, we gathered some of the best minds in the meetings and events industry in small- and large-group discussions to visualize where our industry is headed and what we'll need to do to prepare." To see the complete findings, click here.