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by JR Sherman | February 01, 2013

After a period of decline prompted by the Great Recession, the events industry is poised 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 (ROI) 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 Convention Industry Council, in 2011, 205 million people attended 1.8 million events that cost more than $263 billion in direct spending in the U. S. alone. But Aberdeen Group analysts estimate that only 25 percent of organizations maintain real-time visibility into what they spend against corporate budgets. New event management technology can change that: In 2013, organizations will choose smart event technology to help them operate more efficiently, better manage attendee engagement, and grow their businesses.

2. Automation will help event planners reduce expenses: As event budgets are subjected to greater scrutiny, strategic meeting management (SMM) technology can 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 that event planners had to pull information from non-integrated solutions to see the big picture. In the coming year, organizers will streamline their workloads by choosing a consolidated solution, saving time and freeing up event planners to focus on creating exceptional events.

4. Event organizers will engage audiences with smartphones: Smartphones are increasingly used to conduct business and stay in touch. Gartner 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 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. Now event organizers can use technology to gather and compile information in real time, which enables them to adjust their meeting strategies on the fly and demonstrate ROI.

As the events industry expands to meet growing demand in 2013, organizers will be looking for new ways to maximize value and minimize costs. Using technology tools to gauge attendee needs, get real-time data on event effectiveness and streamline planner workloads makes sense, as does a one-stop solution that leverages the ever-present smartphone. Look for these trends to make an impact in the corporate events industry in 2013 and beyond as events professionals seek new ways to demonstrate ROI.

JR Sherman is senior vice president of business solutions at ACTIVE Network, which is powering the next generation of smart events through its Business Solutions technology suite. Delivering intelligent data and insights designed to increase potential revenue growth, deepen attendee engagement and gain efficiency, ACTIVE Network enables customers of all sizes to benefit from a single technology partner for all of their event management needs. Find out more at www.ACTIVEevents.com