5 Meeting-Tech Trends to Watch in 2013

This list was written by guest contributor JR Sherman, senior vice president of business solutions at event-management technology provider ACTIVE Network (activeevents.com).

After a period of decline prompted by the Great Recession, the events industry will continue to make a comeback in 2013. The Aberdeen Group predicts that corporate meeting and event spend will rise from 9 percent to 20 percent of corporate spending in the next two years.

Despite the expected expansion of event budgets, companies will continue to focus on controlling costs, meaning organizers will need to clearly demonstrate the return on investment for their meetings and events. Here are five major trends that have the potential to increase strategic ROI for events in 2013.

1. Smart events will take center stage. According to the Events Industry Council, in 2011, 205 million people attended 1.8 million events that cost more than $263 billion in direct spending in the United States alone. But Aberdeen Group analysts estimate that only 25 percent of organizations maintain real-time visibility into what they spend against corporate budgets. Out of necessity, more organizations will choose smart event technology this year to help them operate more efficiently, better manage attendee engagement and grow their business.

2. Automation will help event planners reduce expenses. As event budgets are subjected to greater scrutiny, Strategic meetings management technology will help event planners identify new methods to streamline event-related functions and reduce costs. This will make SMM a key tool in 2013, as meeting professionals strive for more efficiency and transparency.

3. Planners will achieve greater efficiency through solution consolidation. In the past, many companies relied on patchwork solutions to handle individual components of events. This often meant eventplanners had to pull information from nonintegrated solutions to see the big picture. Over the course of this year, companies will invest more money in consolidated event technology solutions that offer a one-stop-shop for organizers. Ideal solutions will have the ability to provide organizations with a single view into their strategic meeting management, attendee and engagement management, and vendor sourcing, freeing up event planners to spend less time on manually pulling information from disparate systems and more time creating exceptional events."

4. Event organizers will engage audiences with smartphones. Smartphones are increasingly used to conduct business and stay in touch. Technology research company Gartner Inc. predicts that mobile devices will surpass PCs as the tool of choice to access the web in 2013. Forward-thinking event planners will provide attendees with all-in-one apps they can use to track activities, connect with business contacts and share their experiences via social networks. These apps will also empower organizers to engage with users before, during and after an event.

5. Meeting planners increasingly will leverage technology to gather in-depth attendee information. Finding out what makes attendees tick is a crucial part of a successful event management strategy. More than ever before, event organizers will use technology to gather and compile information in real time, which will enable them to adjust their meeting strategy on the fly and demonstrate ROI.