by Tom Taraci | April 23, 2014
Planning and pulling off a memorable meeting is no easy feat. The blowout budgets of yesterday are rapidly shrinking yet coordinators of corporate events are still expected to execute fresh, forward-thinking meeting events. To avoid boring your guests and to create high caliber, hassle-free experiences, meeting planners need to shake things up in 2014. 

Spring is the time to ditch stale ideas and start anew. Think about a farm-to-table feast or a cycling excursion complete with custom bikes. Use social media to generate buzz beyond the water cooler and make meeting apps user-friendly and actually fun. Whether you're organizing large conferences or putting together intimate employee outings, these top five meeting trends can help turn your next event into the talk of the season.

The mobile app trend isn't going away any time soon. Meeting planners are tapping into the trend, setting up mobile meeting apps for corporate events. Innovative new mobile apps like Meeting Play help planners keep track of RSVPs and make checking in effortless. Meeting-goers stay engaged with easy access to online discussions and interactive games and can deliver feedback with just a touch. 

Mobile meeting apps boost the efficiency and effectiveness of events, particularly when equipped with social media features. Attendees can connect and communicate with smartphones or tablets using sites such as shhmooze.com and can let others know about upcoming meetings. Further, planners are hashtagging up a storm in order to encourage employees to tweet about events and ask questions. It's #genius.

Meetings are meant to inspire. The same-old-same-old just doesn't cut it anymore -- a golf outing is nice, but been there, swung at that. Now planners are stepping it up with an element of escape and surprise. Creating unique sensory experiences facilitates team building and bonding and sets the tone for future events. Whether it's a group horseback ride or a west coast fitness retreat, "work-related activity" has taken on a whole new meaning.

Hosting meetings in nondescript conference rooms is (thankfully) a thing of the past. In-the-know coordinators are seeking nontraditional sites to create distinctive corporate experiences. A museum, historical building, or beautiful outdoor venue can grab employees' attention in more ways than one and can make an event more memorable.

Who wouldn't love a personal parting gift to top off an amazing event? Employee appreciation now comes in the form of custom apparel and accessories. Presenting a corporate team with chic bespoke suits, top-of-the-line tailor-made totes, or finely crafted Italian footwear is a great way to motivate, boost morale, and make employees feel special.

If you can't convince the CEO to sign off on a Sedona spa retreat, staying on trend and within budget is possible with just a bit of creativity. Sometimes a "wow" factor can be found in something small, like a tailor-made token of appreciation or a session of offsite team building. 

Tom Taraci is the CEO of Taraci Motivation, a leader in incentive marketing since 1982.

 Tom is best known for his breakthrough innovations in the incentive marketing industry, which includes launching the first online incentive program for Merrill Lynch, creating the first global incentive program, and developing the first incentive marketing mobile application. Tom also publishes the Taraci Collection, a compendium of the best-of-the-best incentive gifts, which is available online and in print. 

Tom received his BBA from CUNY City College (at the time known as the Harvard of the Proletariat), and he attended the graduate school for marketing at St. John's University.