The first meeting-trends-prediction lists are starting to trickle in (I expect they'll become a deluge before the end of the year), and I can only hope that some of these actually will come true.
For example, Crowne Plaza hotels' Crowne meetings directors believe a growing interest in unconventional meeting space will drive people to meet not just outside the ballroom, but outside the hotel altogether. Among their predictions are that more meetings will be held in outdoor spaces on terraces and by pools, thinking that the environment might spur more participation. Groups also are going outside more at breaks, and some properties are offering games, group walks, and stretching to keep people interacting during breaks.
One of my favorite meeting tech guys, Julius Solaris, also recently posted his 10 event trends for 2014 on the Event Manager blog. Not only did I learn a new word ("locubration," which it turns out I should do a lot more of), but I also learned about some meeting technology I would love to see in action.
For example, one of his trends is "seating guests based on their social connection"—so you could find out if your Twitter followers or Facebook friends are in the house and, if so, where they're sitting. I have heard of airlines considering this sort of thing (I'm not sure if any have actually implemented it yet), but I'm not sure if this is such a great idea. People already tend to flock toward those they know (hence those tables full of people who work in the same office that you tend to see at conference banquets), and we already hold tweet-ups and meet-ups for our various social groups. And yes, it's great to get to know someone in real life that you may have only known online.
And yes, it would make "awkward seating moments" a thing of the past, as Julius says. But I think of all the very cool people I have met just by asking if they minded if I joined their table who otherwise would have remained strangers. I'd like to see more serendipitous mixing, not less, actually.
But I do hope that many of his other predictions come true for the shiny new year. Especially the one about more people using real-time analytics like heat mapping to adjust their meetings on the fly. Some of the tools we now have available are pretty amazing—I can only hope that we learn how to use them to make our meetings better.
What do you see as the next big trends for meetings and events?