by Matt Alderton | December 06, 2012
According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2013 will be the Year of the Snake. For meeting planners, however, the New Year won't bring snakebites; it will bring neuroscience, increased attendance, gamification, monetized meetings apps and visual marketing, according to the IMEX Group, which today released its top 10 predictions for the meetings and events industry in 2013.

In the next 12 months, the IMEX Group predicts, planners can expect:

1. Evidence-based meeting formats: "Despite years of scaremongering to the contrary, live meetings, live events and face-to-face meetings are on the rise again," the IMEX Group says. "Why? Thanks to neuroscience plus an increasing desire — if not pressure — to fully understand the behavioral aspects of different meeting formats we're finally seeing scientific proof that face-to-face interaction produces unique outcomes and benefits."

2. Attendance increases: "There's no expected let-up in exhibition attendance for 2013," the IMEX Group insists, citing the Center for Exhibition Industry Research's November 2012 "Trends in use of exhibitions" report, which forecasted that over the next two years, six out of 10 attendees will go to the same number of exhibitions as they are attending today. Twenty-three percent will actually attend more.

3. Gamificiation: "In 2011 and 2012 gamification started to really heat-up as a new idea to engage, educate and excite," the IMEX Group explains. "With the continued explosion of smartphones and tablets, gamification looks set to explode in 2013 … The end game — pun intended — is to spur loyalty, info-sharing, competition and excitement but it remains critical to understand audience knowledge, goals and desired results in advance to be successful."

4. Destination mascots: "The multisensory, creative opportunities provided by social media platforms and new gadgets are causing a leap in brand personification," the IMEX Group says. "In 2013 expect to see more destinations building stronger and more memorable brand personalities if not unique characters — be they man or beast!"

5. Monetized event apps: "Event and meeting apps are becoming a business essential," according to the IMEX Group. "In 2013 many apps will lose their free price tag and become 'monetized' or at least charge for 'premium,' full-featured editions reflecting their true value-add and growing stature in the industry. Further demand for services 'in the cloud' will fuel yet more development."

6. Increased political advocacy: "With the U.S. elections completed and 20,000 miles clocked on the US Travel Association's Vote Travel Bus, 2013 will see even more momentum and urgency behind political advocacy efforts," the IMEX Group predicts. "The No. 1 message is that the meetings, events and incentive travel industry is an important engine for economic recovery and growth the world over."

7. More green meetings: "The green meetings 'movement' is now developing a unity and identity all of its own, especially among a new generation of younger planners for whom caring for the environment is second nature," the IMEX Group says. "The meetings and events industry has successfully moved past criticisms of 'green-washing' to a point where there is a critical mass of expertise (and individual experts). The advent of the long-awaited APEX Standards gives the industry a stamp of authority plus a clear target to aim for."

8. Visual communications: "The use of Twitter, You Tube, Facebook and, increasingly in the b2b sector — Pinterest — plus techniques such as word clouds are driving new approaches to messaging and communication," the IMEX Group says. "Expect increased use of animation and visual storytelling techniques including video, interactive charts, graphics and '3D-like' pictures, all of which take the pressure of words in an email-heavy world and break through remaining language barriers."

9. Expanded CSR: "In 2013 expect planners and participants to go beyond today's local community support efforts to include more direct, hands-on involvement prior, during and after big events," the IMEX Group says. "With social media spurring on collective action and allowing groups to tell a vivid, personal story about their CSR successes, expect to see more hands-on efforts with less emphasis on dollar/Euro value and more on time invested, differences-made and passions ignited."

10. Increased brand loyalty: "'Trust' will be a big watchword for 2013," according to the IMEX Group. "Individuals, associations, companies and agencies within the meetings and events industry who act openly, with authenticity and consistency, are likely to find their brand value and credibility skyrocketing, thereby helping to push back against the lock-down of compliance or even legislation."

For a recap of last week's top stories, check out MeetingNews Minute: