The winter 2018 edition of Meeting Professionals International's Meetings Outlook, while asking planners the usual questions about the industry's immediate future, also looked into how meeting professionals are using technology and what they are observing as digital enhancements for events mature. Not all of those interviewed found tech to be without drawbacks.
"I think that meetings have become so tech-oriented that the personal contact isn't there anymore," said Donna Mangold, a conference planner at Federated Investors and a member of MPI Pittsburgh Chapter, in the report. "You see people walking around looking at their phones continually, even during sessions. They'll be on their phones or iPads, and I know they are not following what is going on in the room."
Still, the MPI research found that planners are using the various technologies available to them for a number of productive purposes, such as reducing paper usage, improving communications, facilitating networking, speeding up registration processes and improving attendee safety.
Other key findings of the Winter Outlook include:
• Despite slightly more people expressing pessimism about meetings and events one year after the U.S. presidential election, the overall statistical finding of respondents' professional outlook as it relates to President Donald Trump is slightly positive due to a high percentage of "firmly optimistic" (10.2 percent) responses. Only 3.9 percent of respondents identified a "firmly pessimistic" outlook.
• 62 percent of respondents predict favorable business conditions, with a 2.1 percent growth expected over the next year.
• 45 percent of respondents cite "most safe and secure" as the most important factor in destination or venue selection, while 26 percent say the destination or venue must be domestic, 24 percent are looking for the best airlift possible and 19 percent said the destination has to be on an "approved" list.
• Attendance at live and virtual events is expected to grow by 2.2 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively, an uptick for live events over the last quarter.
Find the full MPI Winter 2018 Outlook on the organization's website.