What will meetings look like in 2020? That’s the big question on the minds of analysts at Fast Future Research, a London-based global research and consulting firm, who are in the midst of a multiphase study called Convention 2020. The results of phase one are in, and based on 1,125 online responses from meetings professionals and others in 76 countries, future meetings professionals should be looking to create a meeting experience heavy on networking and technology, and customized to the individual attendee.

“The results highlight that demand for live events is expected to hold strong out to 2020, but to attract customers will require significant innovation in meeting formats, business models, organizational capability, and the use of technology,” said Martin Sirk, CEO of the International Congress and Convention Association, one of the founding sponsors of the study.

Here’s a sampling of the results.

Event Technology
The top technologies that respondents expect to be “commonplace in conventions and exhibitions by 2020” include:

  • live video streaming to remote participants (75 percent),
  • a social network to connect attendees before, during, and after an event (70 percent), and
  • all event information downloadable to a mobile phone (64 percent).

Event Business Models

  • 77 percent think it is likely or very likely that conferences and exhibitions will have to offer strong incentives to attract the right delegates.
  • 60 percent believe it is likely or very likely that participants will want to pay based on the value they receive (for example, the number of sales appointments booked or the number of educational sessions attended).
  • 51 percent think it is likely or very likely that events will become more exclusive with far greater pre-event vetting of participants.

Reasons to Attend
Attendees’ ranking of the factors that will influence their decisions to attend meetings in 2020 puts face-to-face contact at the top. Here are the top-five factors:

  • quality of networking (76 percent),
  • seeing very latest sector developments (69 percent),
  • opportunity to meet key people (68 percent),
  • high-quality speakers (66 percent), and
  • high-quality educational content (65 percent).

Seventy percent of respondents said the following statement is likely or very likely: “In 2020, the personal comfort of attendees will be much more important to organizers than today. Individuals will be able to obtain personalized menus at meals, there will be many options for entertainment and relaxation, e.g., customized seating. Organizers will make far better use of information about individual attendees than they do today.”

The full phase-one report is available for download. Future reports from the study are expected later this year: in May at the IMEX exhibition in Frankfurt and in October at the ICCA convention in Hyderabad, India.