Top 9 Meeting Trends for 2017

Political unrest, the sharing economy, experiential meetings, and more will shape group travel this year

Meeting Trends 2017 opener

Happy to see the end of 2016? You're not the only one.

In 2016, says Issa Jouaneh, senior vice president and general manager, American Express Meetings & Events, "businesses and the global community were faced with more unrest and interruptions than ever before. Tragedies and disasters both deliberate and natural impacted millions of lives and caused normal activity to come to a screeching halt, let alone meetings activity." Noting, however, that since the meetings and events industry is adaptive by nature, Jouaneh adds that this year, as always, it "responded courageously and in earnest to help travelers in need."

In the meantime, the industry, hoping for a better year, is following these trends, listed in no particular order.
 

1. POLITICAL UNREST IN UNEXPECTED PLACES

When it comes to looking for political instability that will have far-reaching global ramifications, we're used to looking at areas such as the Middle East, the Balkans, and South America. Who would have predicted Great Britain and the United States would join that group in 2016? But 2017 will be a year of dealing with the fallout from Brexit and the U.S. presidential election.

The decision of the U.K. to leave the European Union, and the election of hotelier and reality-TV star Donald Trump as president of the United States were both hugely unexpected events to which the world is still getting used.


Boom or Gloom?
Concerning Brexit, Andrew Swanston, head of sales for ExCeL London, says that while "we do not yet know what sort of deal the U.K. will secure from the EU, we have been pleased with how both the mayor of London and the U.K. government have responded to the vote and moved quickly to reinforce a message that the U.K. remains open for business. London always has and always will be a great place to live, work, and do business." In fact, due to the weaker pound that has occurred in the wake of the Brexit results, a number of ExCeL's North American clients "called us to arrange early payments for their events to take advantage of the preferential exchange rate," Swanston notes.

While London's future may be secure, U.K.-based futurist Rohit Talwar offers two extreme scenarios (call them Boom and Gloom) for the nation at large. In a "Boom" scenario, the U.K. succeeds by having a clear exit strategy that includes "access to European markets in a single deal in return for an annual access fee; tax incentives to increase U.K. competitiveness; and a program of regional investment," Talwar posits. In the "Gloom" scenario, the government, stalled by "the sheer volume of activities they have to disentangle as part of Brexit and a continuous stream of legal challenges, faces a gloomy future, with a stalled economy and reliance on the IMF for a bailout," Talwar says.


Will Trump's America Be Great?
Greatness is what President-elect Donald Trump is promising. Who knows if he'll deliver on that, but given his hospitality background, some prominent members of the meetings industry are cautiously to warmly optimistic as to what his presidency will mean to the industry.

"As a businessman with deep roots in the hospitality industry, the president-elect knows very well the value that meetings bring to our country. He understands that face-to-face is a critical factor for business success, and has noted that it's helped to grow his brand, build relationships, and generate new ideas," says Nan Marchand Beauvois, vice president, national councils, and general manager of the Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO), the U.S. Travel Association.

Michael Dominguez, senior vice president and chief sales officer, MGM Resorts International, and executive committee member, U.S. Travel Association, is encouraged by Trump's commitment to improving infrastructure. "President-elect Trump has stressed a focus on infrastructure investment, which would include the modernization of our airports. This has been a continued focus of our industry as we prepare for record international visitors over the next decade," says Dominguez.

"One would hope that given Trump's business background he would already have a grasp of the value of meetings and events for the U.S. economy and be well disposed towards the industry," says Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX Group. "I would also hope that the advances that have been made over the past few years with regards to ESTAs [Electronic Systems for Travel Authorization] and the Trusted Traveler Programs continue. It's important that the U.S. continues to be perceived as an open and welcoming country to visitors."

Less sanguine is prominent tech guru Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP, DES, MS and principal of Bellingham, WA--based Corbin Ball Associates, who fears the Internet will be targeted for regulation: "I am very concerned that net neutrality will be gutted and that legitimate business travel to the U.S. will be restricted or diminished," he says.
8. TECHNOLOGY MOVES BEYOND BASICS
"Technology," says Fisher, "has allowed attendees to be included in meetings regardless of geographical location and resulted in many options for attendees to share the event with others. Attendees can experience two-way interactions, and events can be recorded and shared post-event."

The challenge to such meetings, says Nicola Rossetti, vice president of global marketing for event management technology firm etouches, has always been the awkward screen experience. "Successful hybrid events are often those that have a specifically designed online context, with a dedicated interface, somehow independent from what occurs on site," he notes. "That said, a lot of events become hybrid in the sense that there are more and more strategies, mostly around social media, to engage a broader audience on what is shared during an event."

One way to deliver better content is through myriad perspectives, such as live streaming, Instagram, and Snapchat in the hands of the attendees. "We are using Snapchat for meetings, conferences, and trade shows," says Boisner. "It creates an experiential element that allows attendees to share their timely and most authentic event moments with all their followers -- those at the conference and back home. We will continue to see a rise in on-demand geofilters for events into 2017." Ball predicts, "We will see increased demands for live-streaming events by attendees; the challenges for event planners will be increased bandwidth demand.


9. APPS BECOME DATA GATHERERS
In addition to the aforementioned consumer-based apps, Fisher notes an uptick in meetings and event technology usage "such as Cvent or Lanyon's StarCite, along with increased use of both customized apps and Twitter." However, today's planners are more discerning in what they want. According to Rossetti, "Gone are the days when all that people want is a shiny app. The big change is that organizers have started to understand that the app is not just a tool at the time of the event, but a component that needs to be integrated throughout the entire cycle. The app becomes a key data collector, allowing the organizer to get a granular and insightful understanding of the event. With the right analytic tool or environment, the app brings tremendous value to the organizer, improving event performance in real time and making future events much better."

However, each stage of the entire enterprise depends on Wi-Fi. Says Rossetti, "All the large venues have now invested in robust infrastructures. Buyers have become experts and are now asking the right questions, from concurrent devices sessions to bandwidth or the number of connected devices. The challenge remains in the business model where venues have a basic translation from cost to return and sell this key component at a non-sensible price point, taking the organizer into a near-hostage situation."

Rossetti adds: "Many specialized companies have a prepackaged environment for hotels that are specifically geared toward event management. While more expensive, they often provide a better and more secure alternative."   
 
 
 
Questions or comments? Email [email protected]


This article appears in the January 2017 issue of Successful Meetings.

6. SECURITY CONCERNS

Among the increasing line items in 2017 budgets, security is "probably the most discussed topic today by the meeting professional," says Dominguez. In the fall 2016 edition of MPI's Meetings Outlook (developed in partnership with MGM Resorts International and supported in partnership with the IMEX Group), Bill Voegeli of the MPI Georgia Chapter and president of Association Insights -- the Atlanta-area research firm that conducted the survey -- confirmed that safety and security are the top budget request for 2017. Adds Dominguez, "It is not only the concerns around active shooters and terrorism concerns but," when every attendee arrives with a smartphone, cyber security, too.

Health concerns, be they contagious diseases such as Zika, disasters, or other emergency situations, are also top of mind. "Safety, security, and duty of care have risen in priority to become a key consideration," says Jouaneh. According to the 2017 American Express Global Meetings and Events Forecast, "safety and security" is a component included in

57 percent of organizational meetings policies in North America; in fact, the Forecast itself provides a checklist for duty of care considerations during a meeting's lifecycle.

In opposition to the concern for security is the sharing economy, even whose advocates say that users are putting themselves in the hands of strangers with opaque safety histories.


7. FOOD AND BEVERAGE PRICES RISE
According to the CWT Meetings & Events 2017 Forecast, food and beverage prices are expected to rise due to increased production prices, changes in imports and exports, and other considerations. "F&B pricing was again the third-most critical factor for planners when selecting a property," noted Fournier, "after location and room rate."

While the current "keeping it local" trend might help the bottom line in terms of transportation and refrigeration costs, local items aren't necessarily less expensive than traditionally sourced items, according to Barosso, since "profit margins in food and beverage are not great to begin with, so there is generally not a lot of play there." Planners concerned with controlling F&B might want to consider pre-plating and using "action stations" where chefs prepare dishes on the spot while explaining the ingredients and cooking process. Besides enhancing the attendee experience, this allows chefs to prepare exactly the right amount.

Currently, says Dominguez, "we are actually in a good place as the F&B price increases today are more specific and not across the board. The swine flu, bird flu, and cold winters in key areas have been in check for the last 18 months. The drought in California is probably still the biggest driver."


4. THE RISE OF THE EXPERIENTIAL MEETING
 

"Experience, adventure, and teambuilding," lists Thomas Faust, vice president of sales for The Woodlands, TX--based Benchmark Global Hospitality. "People will continue to look for experiences and adventures; and in meetings, the organization's goal is to leverage that into teambuilding experiences to provide an ROI by improving performance as a result of that meeting. The experiential event drives a higher level of success for that organization."

Faust notes that destination hoteliers seek to provide compelling experiences by creating a synergy between location and property, such as "skiing in Jackson Hole, or horseback riding in Cheyenne or Colorado Springs, or parasailing or surfing in Hawaii. That authentic experience can be reinforced by cuisine, music, or art, and should reflect what sets that region apart. That is what participants really want to experience."

Two Roads Hospitality's Fournier also cites the Cliff House Maine -- a newly refurbished 1872 property, in Cape Neddick, ME, with 132 rooms and 15,000 square feet of event space -- that offers Nubb's Lobster Shack, a venue used by planners in lieu of transporting attendees off site. "The Lobster Shack immerses people in an authentic experience right on property," Fournier says, adding, "We're able to provide meeting groups what they want from the destination but at a lower cost. And giving attendees an extra hour in their day by not traveling off site is also a strong benefit."


 Thumbs Up for Hands-on Learning
Experiential meetings are also becoming part of the conference program. Bonnie Boisner, vice president of event management for Aimia, says that sessions are being shortened to create opportunities for hands-on learning and for interactive breakout sessions that will accommodate many learning styles -- "not just those who learn best by listening to a speaker in the front of the room," she says.

"What is old is new again," says MGM's Dominguez (who also co-chairs the Meetings Mean Business Coalition). "How many books were written about the 'experience economy' back in the late 1980s? We are now just able to deliver those experiences in a much more affordable and easy way due to technology and other innovations."


5. FLAT BUDGETS
Much like the Earth, budgets in 2017 may look flat, but it depends on where you're standing. Fournier tries to explain: "Thirty-seven percent of Destination Hotels' survey respondents say that they have more money to spend on meetings in 2017 -- a significant jump from the 31.5 percent who said so last year. Fifty-seven percent say they have the same amount to spend in 2017; just 6 percent say their total meetings spend will decrease, down from 11 percent of respondents last year. But 30 percent say they will also plan more meetings in 2017, while just 5 percent say they will plan fewer meetings.

"Taken together," Fournier adds, "these figures show that more money will be spent on more meetings in 2017 -- but not that planners will necessarily have any more money to spend per meeting."

For Dominguez, "We are not experiencing customers with flat budgets, but we are finding that the budget increases are not covering growth in airfare, the cost of technology, or the increased cost of labor and F&B."

So whatever way one approaches it, there is not enough money to go around -- even in what is being called a softening market in the U.S., where buyers should have the upper hand. Cindy Fisher, vice president and global head, CWT Meetings & Events, observes that meeting and event organizers are always expected to do more with less. "However, even with the likelihood of flat budgets year-over-year, there is still an expectation to elevate the strategic impact meetings drive for their organizations."

Kevin Barosso, vice president of global group sales for Two Roads Hospitality, suggests that planners adopt a variety of strategies for making budgets work next year. "Start with date and pattern possibilities, as well as the proposed destination for each meeting," he says. "If there is flexibility in one of these areas, we can often fit a meeting into one of our properties on terms that deliver additional value to the group." Another strategy is to negotiate a multiyear deal.


2. MIDSCALE PROPERTY OPENINGS EXPLODE WHILE LUXURY BUILDS REBOUND
Among the surprises in the 2017 American Express Global Meetings and Events Forecast is that more midscale hotels than luxury hotels are expected to open next year by nearly three to one (and in the U.S. and Central America, nearly four to one). Jouaneh explains the global phenomenon: "Midscale properties offer a competitive price point, quality service, and convenience, and we're seeing that demand for this type of property is higher than any other hotel type."

In Europe, the openings will be just in time, according to CWT Meetings & Events 2017 Forecast, for strict company guidelines, reduced budgets, saving targets, and increasing industry regulations" to help them to get more meetings bookings.
 

 

Luxury Begins a Comeback
However, in 2017, more upscale properties will begin construction in all regions but South America. As 2016 began, says Andre Fournier, executive vice president of sales, marketing, and revenue for Denver-based Two Roads Hospitality, "the expert consensus was that a glut of new hotel inventory coming online would quickly flatten hotel occupancy rates, perhaps ending the six-year run of increasing revenue per available room and giving planners more negotiating leverage." Instead, he says, "demand from leisure, individual business travelers, and groups kept pace with new room inventory for much of 2016." Jim Schultenover, president of Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI), agrees: "While PKF Consulting and Smith Travel Research still forecast growth for the four- and five-star hotel categories, with demand exceeding supply, the assumption is no economic downturn."

 

Unsurprisingly, the top cities for hotel openings will be New York, London, Dubai, and Shanghai. Meeting favorites Chicago, Dallas, and Hamburg will also see increased openings, as Schultenover notes: "Primary cities with correspondingly easy air access remain in high demand. For example, Boston; Chicago; Orlando; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta, and Dallas."
 

3. SHARING ECONOMY CONTINUES TO DISRUPT THE MARKETPLACE
Except for social media, no issue is likely to give travel procurement divisions more headaches than the sharing economy. "Many of the procurement questions revolve around technical aspects of 'duty of care.' For example, ground transportation companies can measure cost, insurance levels, safety, and security requirements, and go through a traditional procurement process, but the Transportation Network Company (TNC) space is much different," says Tony Wagner, vice president, Americas, CWT Meetings & Events. "TNCs, being app-based transportation companies, simply don't have to comply with the same rules and regulations as the traditional companies. TNCs also typically do not capture data on a company level, and have little flexibility on the pricing. In addition, insurance terms, safety, and security is up to the individual driver who are not an 'employee' of the TNC company."

However, even as Airbnb and other short-term rental companies are being legally challenged around the world, rideshare companies -- notably Uber -- have managed to steamroll their critics. In 2015, Uber launched UberEvents, a prepaid option for groups that it had been marketing for social events such as weddings and holiday parties. Speculation in the financial community is that Uber will go public in 2017; and the legitimacy of an IPO might be just the headache relief that procurement is looking for.


2. MIDSCALE PROPERTY OPENINGS EXPLODE WHILE LUXURY BUILDS REBOUND
Among the surprises in the 2017 American Express Global Meetings and Events Forecast is that more midscale hotels than luxury hotels are expected to open next year by nearly three to one (and in the U.S. and Central America, nearly four to one). Jouaneh explains the global phenomenon: "Midscale properties offer a competitive price point, quality service, and convenience, and we're seeing that demand for this type of property is higher than any other hotel type."

In Europe, the openings will be just in time, according to CWT Meetings & Events 2017 Forecast, for strict company guidelines, reduced budgets, saving targets, and increasing industry regulations" to help them to get more meetings bookings.
 

 

Andre Fournier,
Two Roads Hospitality
Andre Fournier, Two Roads Hospitality

Luxury Begins a Comeback
However, in 2017, more upscale properties will begin construction in all regions but South America. As 2016 began, says Andre Fournier, executive vice president of sales, marketing, and revenue for Denver-based Two Roads Hospitality, "the expert consensus was that a glut of new hotel inventory coming online would quickly flatten hotel occupancy rates, perhaps ending the six-year run of increasing revenue per available room and giving planners more negotiating leverage." Instead, he says, "demand from leisure, individual business travelers, and groups kept pace with new room inventory for much of 2016." Jim Schultenover, president of Associated Luxury Hotels International (ALHI), agrees: "While PKF Consulting and Smith Travel Research still forecast growth for the four- and five-star hotel categories, with demand exceeding supply, the assumption is no economic downturn."

 

Jim Schultenover,
Associated Luxury
Hotels International
Jim Schultenover, Associated Luxury Hotels International

Unsurprisingly, the top cities for hotel openings will be New York, London, Dubai, and Shanghai. Meeting favorites Chicago, Dallas, and Hamburg will also see increased openings, as Schultenover notes: "Primary cities with correspondingly easy air access remain in high demand. For example, Boston; Chicago; Orlando; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta, and Dallas."
 

3. SHARING ECONOMY CONTINUES TO DISRUPT THE MARKETPLACE
Except for social media, no issue is likely to give travel procurement divisions more headaches than the sharing economy. "Many of the procurement questions revolve around technical aspects of 'duty of care.' For example, ground transportation companies can measure cost, insurance levels, safety, and security requirements, and go through a traditional procurement process, but the Transportation Network Company (TNC) space is much different," says Tony Wagner, vice president, Americas, CWT Meetings & Events. "TNCs, being app-based transportation companies, simply don't have to comply with the same rules and regulations as the traditional companies. TNCs also typically do not capture data on a company level, and have little flexibility on the pricing. In addition, insurance terms, safety, and security is up to the individual driver who are not an 'employee' of the TNC company."

However, even as Airbnb and other short-term rental companies are being legally challenged around the world, rideshare companies -- notably Uber -- have managed to steamroll their critics. In 2015, Uber launched UberEvents, a prepaid option for groups that it had been marketing for social events such as weddings and holiday parties. Speculation in the financial community is that Uber will go public in 2017; and the legitimacy of an IPO might be just the headache relief that procurement is looking for.


4. THE RISE OF THE EXPERIENTIAL MEETING
 

Thomas Faust,
Benchmark Global
Hospitality
Thomas Faust, Benchmark Global Hospitality

"Experience, adventure, and teambuilding," lists Thomas Faust, vice president of sales for The Woodlands, TX--based Benchmark Global Hospitality. "People will continue to look for experiences and adventures; and in meetings, the organization's goal is to leverage that into teambuilding experiences to provide an ROI by improving performance as a result of that meeting. The experiential event drives a higher level of success for that organization."

Faust notes that destination hoteliers seek to provide compelling experiences by creating a synergy between location and property, such as "skiing in Jackson Hole, or horseback riding in Cheyenne or Colorado Springs, or parasailing or surfing in Hawaii. That authentic experience can be reinforced by cuisine, music, or art, and should reflect what sets that region apart. That is what participants really want to experience."

Two Roads Hospitality's Fournier also cites the Cliff House Maine -- a newly refurbished 1872 property, in Cape Neddick, ME, with 132 rooms and 15,000 square feet of event space -- that offers Nubb's Lobster Shack, a venue used by planners in lieu of transporting attendees off site. "The Lobster Shack immerses people in an authentic experience right on property," Fournier says, adding, "We're able to provide meeting groups what they want from the destination but at a lower cost. And giving attendees an extra hour in their day by not traveling off site is also a strong benefit."


Bonnie Boisner,
Aimia
Bonnie Boisner, Aimia

 Thumbs Up for Hands-on Learning
Experiential meetings are also becoming part of the conference program. Bonnie Boisner, vice president of event management for Aimia, says that sessions are being shortened to create opportunities for hands-on learning and for interactive breakout sessions that will accommodate many learning styles -- "not just those who learn best by listening to a speaker in the front of the room," she says.

"What is old is new again," says MGM's Dominguez (who also co-chairs the Meetings Mean Business Coalition). "How many books were written about the 'experience economy' back in the late 1980s? We are now just able to deliver those experiences in a much more affordable and easy way due to technology and other innovations."


5. FLAT BUDGETS
Much like the Earth, budgets in 2017 may look flat, but it depends on where you're standing. Fournier tries to explain: "Thirty-seven percent of Destination Hotels' survey respondents say that they have more money to spend on meetings in 2017 -- a significant jump from the 31.5 percent who said so last year. Fifty-seven percent say they have the same amount to spend in 2017; just 6 percent say their total meetings spend will decrease, down from 11 percent of respondents last year. But 30 percent say they will also plan more meetings in 2017, while just 5 percent say they will plan fewer meetings.

"Taken together," Fournier adds, "these figures show that more money will be spent on more meetings in 2017 -- but not that planners will necessarily have any more money to spend per meeting."

For Dominguez, "We are not experiencing customers with flat budgets, but we are finding that the budget increases are not covering growth in airfare, the cost of technology, or the increased cost of labor and F&B."

So whatever way one approaches it, there is not enough money to go around -- even in what is being called a softening market in the U.S., where buyers should have the upper hand. Cindy Fisher, vice president and global head, CWT Meetings & Events, observes that meeting and event organizers are always expected to do more with less. "However, even with the likelihood of flat budgets year-over-year, there is still an expectation to elevate the strategic impact meetings drive for their organizations."

Kevin Barosso, vice president of global group sales for Two Roads Hospitality, suggests that planners adopt a variety of strategies for making budgets work next year. "Start with date and pattern possibilities, as well as the proposed destination for each meeting," he says. "If there is flexibility in one of these areas, we can often fit a meeting into one of our properties on terms that deliver additional value to the group." Another strategy is to negotiate a multiyear deal.


6. SECURITY CONCERNS

Among the increasing line items in 2017 budgets, security is "probably the most discussed topic today by the meeting professional," says Dominguez. In the fall 2016 edition of MPI's Meetings Outlook (developed in partnership with MGM Resorts International and supported in partnership with the IMEX Group), Bill Voegeli of the MPI Georgia Chapter and president of Association Insights -- the Atlanta-area research firm that conducted the survey -- confirmed that safety and security are the top budget request for 2017. Adds Dominguez, "It is not only the concerns around active shooters and terrorism concerns but," when every attendee arrives with a smartphone, cyber security, too.

Health concerns, be they contagious diseases such as Zika, disasters, or other emergency situations, are also top of mind. "Safety, security, and duty of care have risen in priority to become a key consideration," says Jouaneh. According to the 2017 American Express Global Meetings and Events Forecast, "safety and security" is a component included in

57 percent of organizational meetings policies in North America; in fact, the Forecast itself provides a checklist for duty of care considerations during a meeting's lifecycle.

In opposition to the concern for security is the sharing economy, even whose advocates say that users are putting themselves in the hands of strangers with opaque safety histories.


7. FOOD AND BEVERAGE PRICES RISE
According to the CWT Meetings & Events 2017 Forecast, food and beverage prices are expected to rise due to increased production prices, changes in imports and exports, and other considerations. "F&B pricing was again the third-most critical factor for planners when selecting a property," noted Fournier, "after location and room rate."

While the current "keeping it local" trend might help the bottom line in terms of transportation and refrigeration costs, local items aren't necessarily less expensive than traditionally sourced items, according to Barosso, since "profit margins in food and beverage are not great to begin with, so there is generally not a lot of play there." Planners concerned with controlling F&B might want to consider pre-plating and using "action stations" where chefs prepare dishes on the spot while explaining the ingredients and cooking process. Besides enhancing the attendee experience, this allows chefs to prepare exactly the right amount.

Currently, says Dominguez, "we are actually in a good place as the F&B price increases today are more specific and not across the board. The swine flu, bird flu, and cold winters in key areas have been in check for the last 18 months. The drought in California is probably still the biggest driver."
8. TECHNOLOGY MOVES BEYOND BASICS
"Technology," says Fisher, "has allowed attendees to be included in meetings regardless of geographical location and resulted in many options for attendees to share the event with others. Attendees can experience two-way interactions, and events can be recorded and shared post-event."

The challenge to such meetings, says Nicola Rossetti, vice president of global marketing for event management technology firm etouches, has always been the awkward screen experience. "Successful hybrid events are often those that have a specifically designed online context, with a dedicated interface, somehow independent from what occurs on site," he notes. "That said, a lot of events become hybrid in the sense that there are more and more strategies, mostly around social media, to engage a broader audience on what is shared during an event."

One way to deliver better content is through myriad perspectives, such as live streaming, Instagram, and Snapchat in the hands of the attendees. "We are using Snapchat for meetings, conferences, and trade shows," says Boisner. "It creates an experiential element that allows attendees to share their timely and most authentic event moments with all their followers -- those at the conference and back home. We will continue to see a rise in on-demand geofilters for events into 2017." Ball predicts, "We will see increased demands for live-streaming events by attendees; the challenges for event planners will be increased bandwidth demand.


9. APPS BECOME DATA GATHERERS
In addition to the aforementioned consumer-based apps, Fisher notes an uptick in meetings and event technology usage "such as Cvent or Lanyon's StarCite, along with increased use of both customized apps and Twitter." However, today's planners are more discerning in what they want. According to Rossetti, "Gone are the days when all that people want is a shiny app. The big change is that organizers have started to understand that the app is not just a tool at the time of the event, but a component that needs to be integrated throughout the entire cycle. The app becomes a key data collector, allowing the organizer to get a granular and insightful understanding of the event. With the right analytic tool or environment, the app brings tremendous value to the organizer, improving event performance in real time and making future events much better."

However, each stage of the entire enterprise depends on Wi-Fi. Says Rossetti, "All the large venues have now invested in robust infrastructures. Buyers have become experts and are now asking the right questions, from concurrent devices sessions to bandwidth or the number of connected devices. The challenge remains in the business model where venues have a basic translation from cost to return and sell this key component at a non-sensible price point, taking the organizer into a near-hostage situation."

Rossetti adds: "Many specialized companies have a prepackaged environment for hotels that are specifically geared toward event management. While more expensive, they often provide a better and more secure alternative."   
 
 
 
Questions or comments? Email [email protected]


This article appears in the January 2017 issue of Successful Meetings.