As the saying goes, there's a new world aborning. Certainly that's the case with corporate meetings. While the process is nowhere near complete, we can see an outline of what they're morphing into.
First, companies are asking some new and different questions. For years, meeting organizers have occupied themselves largely with questions of logistics: When will the meeting be held? What's the hottest destination? What about? While these questions are necessary, they no longer suffice.
Companies expecting a return on their considerable meeting investments will look to meetings for the impact they will make on their businesses. Companies will expect meetings to both stimulate and motivate attendees, especially the baby boom- ers and "Millennials".These people want to be involved, to interact with each other. They also want the time they're spending to make them more effective in their jobs.
In other words, meetings will have to be about effectiveness--not just efficiency. What will be important are the "why" and "how" questions: Why are we having this meeting? How can we best meet the objectives of sponsors and attendees?
An example: If a meeting's objective is to disseminate new product information to an international sales force, a company can probably get the job done by posting the information on its corporate intranet. If, on the other hand, the company is launching a new global initiative using cross-regional teams, a meeting in Barcelona, let's say, might be just what's needed forand information sharing.
It's all about the strategy behind the decision to hold the meeting in the first place.
Just as important will be what's done before and after meetings. It will become standard for employees to log onto meeting Web sites and read relevant articles, answer questions, take skills tests before they even get to a meeting. Afterward, companies will more closely scrutinize and measure results. Smiley-face, sad-face evaluation tools just won't cut it. They will want to quantify learning, behavior change, and organizational impact--including new revenue that comes as a direct result of the meeting.
Finally, meeting industry suppliers will operate on a more strategic level. Cold calling to sell "rooms, rates, and dates" is a dated concept. Salespeople will be expected to understand a meeting's objectives and guarantee the property's participation by providing technologically smart hotels, where attendees can communicate instantly inside and outside the venue; convention services such as state-of-the-art learning environments; and any other products or services that will serve the meeting's goals.