by Jennifer Lee | January 01, 2018
The global and domestic outlook for the meetings industry was a hot topic during Meetings Quest, an education and networking event for planners at the new Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West Hotel in Texas last month. The agenda covered the latest tech trends, as well as crisis management and event security.
The meeting was hosted by Visit Plano and presented by the Northstar Meetings Group (M&C's parent company), whose executive vice president, David R. Blansfield, offered attendees recent data and findings that shed light on how the laws of supply and demand will affect planners and suppliers in 2018.

Blansfield cited a 2017 UFI Global Exhibition Barometer Survey projecting an increase in exhibition sales: In North America, more than 80 percent of industry executives surveyed expected growth in 2017; Europe was almost equally optimistic, led mostly by the United Kingdom; and in Asia Pacific, China demonstrated growth from 2016 to 2017, similar to other Asian nations (except Thailand).

Blansfield also underscored the transformative impact of technology on the meetings industry, as noted the 2017 Meetings Trend Survey by M&C's sister publication, Successful Meetings, which found 59 percent of planners use technology to improve the quality of meetings and 30 percent use data from such tools to measure event return on investment.


The hot spots in technology
Continuing the discussion on technological adaptation was Ann Windham James, CEO and president of Imagine Xhibits Inc., a full-service trade-show marketing company, who outlined the major event-technology trends to watch for this coming year and how to incorporate them into events. These trends included the following:

 Social media;

 Online booking and reservations for meetings;

 Event wayfinding and Augmented Reality;

 Face-recognition registration;

 Cloud-based event-management tools with integrated partners;

 Event cyber security;

 On-demand attendee concierges;

 Mobile apps;

 Recharging stations;

 Digital graphics (touch screens, interactive exhibit booths), and

 New ways of measuring ROI.


Safety and security
Rounding out the educational programming was Steven Hacker, former president of the International Association of Exhibition and Events, who provided an overview on what planners can do to ensure the appropriate security measures are in place for their events. He outlined several preventative on-site procedures, as follows:

 Infection screening;

 Elective prevention via the presence of hand-sanitizing stations and distribution of surgical masks;

 Use of metal detectors and hand-wand screening, and

 Distribution of high-grade information addressing anticipated questions and concerns of attendees.

Hacker also outlined what should be included in a planner's emergency manual, such as a comprehensive roster of staff, elected officials and attendees on-site, as well as a crisis-communications plan detailing who speaks and when.

Other highlights of the event included a joint welcome from Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere and Mark Thompson, executive director of Visit Plano;  an appointment-based trade show; and a performance by the duo Whiskey Pants, who appear regularly at the NFL's Dallas Cowboys games.

The Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West Hotel, part of the $3 billion Legacy West urban mixed-use project, served as the host hotel for this event. The next Meetings Quest conclave will take place on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, March 13-14, 2018. For additional information, visit meetingsquest.com.