Three Meeting and Event Trends for 2021

Three Meeting and Event Trends for 2021

The landscape for the corporate meeting and event industry has been entirely disrupted by the pandemic of 2020. As we begin to unravel from it all, our hope is in what is to come.

The good news is that the demand for corporate meetings remains strong. We are social creatures, and business meetings must happen to help us align on goals and with each other. The shift organizations made to online meetings, and virtual events showed us that business, events, and meetings needed to continue to move forward, regardless of the global pandemic landscape. Networking, product research and development, collaboration, and team communication must, and will, continue.

The question isn’t whether or not group events will happen; it is how they will look and how to make them successful. As we all look forward, prepare for the future and glide into the new normal, here are three trends we expect to see strengthened.

Venues are Getting Ready for Hybrid Events

Virtual events have been the primary way organizations have held meetings of every type. As businesses that have been limited or sheltered are once again opening doors, we expect hybrid events to take over.

The boom in virtual meetings has created new best practices in the industry, improving production logistics and technology for the better. We expect hybrid events to dominate with user familiarity, and venues must get ready to meet their needs.

CVBs and DMCs are Expanding

Convention and Visitor Bureaus, along with Destination Management Companies, are expanding their partnerships and adjusting their income models. Going from a steady income of event hosting, then coming to a complete halt in some cases, due to the pandemic, CVBs and DMCs are looking at how they price and who they need to have in their portfolio of connections.

Broadening networks and outreach to be more diverse helps balance out income sources, and partnering with additional vendors will allow for more agility should something like a global disruption happen again.

Focus on Health and Safety

Hybrid events will continue to attract participants most comfortably – live or digital. Meeting technologies, along with health and safety will continue to be a focus and priority for attendees, venues, and event planners. Local government mandates will continue to shift, and those in the meetings industry will need to be flexible to meet those changes. Procedures to maintain safety will continue to be front and center with signage, technology, PPE, and more. Onsite testing is likely to be a live event standard. Find more resources here: Meeting Health & Safety

Five Innovative Gifting ideas for Attendees and Staff

Five Innovative Gifting ideas for Attendees and Staff

Swag bags and logoed promotional products have long been a staple of corporate events and gifting. This last year has undoubtedly changed the environment of corporate live meetings and altered the state of corporate gifting.

For one, it has made customized ordering (each person can order what they want) and direct shipping much more accessible and user-friendly than ever before. It has also placed a value on higher-end gifts. This type of gift is one way corporations reinvested conference expenses previously spent on live events back into the participants or staff. While name-brand goods cost 25% – 75% more than generic, it hits home when staff or clients receive a recognizable brand.

Participants at live events have grown accustomed to receiving their welcome packet, name badge, and swag bag. This last year of virtual meetings brought us creative unboxing parties, and this year, as hybrid meetings become the new normal, we expect to see the innovation grow.

“Use a professional to navigate quantity pricing. They also make sure your gift achieves the intended impact without being gaudy. Logo size, color, and positioning all need to be thought through and done well.”

– Michael Lumpkin, Thread Logo Co-Founder

As we move into this next stage, we wanted to inspire you with these five curated gifts by our American Meetings Network Prime Member, Thread Logo, with high quality, name-brand value, and without the bank-breaking price tag. The key to this is using a professional who can deliver value.

Charging Pads and Devices

We are all plugged in and needing power. These charging pads make it easy, allowing recipients to leave all the cords behind and charge phones, watches, earbuds, or anything electronic and rechargeable. Ideal for travel or home, these are helpful to both the tech-savvy and not.

Sherpa Blankets

Blankets and throws are a great unisex gift welcome year-round for indoor or outdoor cuddling. Neutral colors match home or office décor or can easily be thrown into the car for a road trip, camping, or picnic after the event.

Fine Leather Goods

High quality and hand-made in the USA, these luxury gifts will become a staple for the receiver. Padfolios for event notetaking, or totes and briefcases for conference materials or hauling paperwork from client meetings to networking groups, these are a perfect gift.

Ring Lights

Videos, Zoom meetings, and even profile pictures look better with good lighting. With a variety of warmth, brightness, sizes, and adjustability, ring lights make your participants look great. Whether live streaming content at the event, capturing an afterparty shout-out or uploading the next viral TikTok, you will be equipping your team towards screen confidence.

Bose

Bose is a household name when it comes to sound quality, which makes these highly valued gifts. Speakers, headphones, and earbuds with the Bose name ensure crisp sound anyway your recipient wants to experience it.

The goal of gifting has always been to help people be pulled into the fold of the sponsor – to help them feel like they are part of something bigger. Whether this is a company purchasing wearables to demonstrate unity at an event, or attendees receiving swag to welcome them and invite them into the experience, corporate gifting accomplishes this.

Your professional meeting planner can help source and distribute these items on your behalf. Just ask AMI!

AMI Provides Talented Certified Suppliers Through Its Industry Leading Tier 2 Supplier Program

AMI Provides Talented Certified Suppliers Through Its Industry Leading Tier 2 Supplier Program

Learn more in this Out Entrepreneur interview with CEO and Founder of AMI Andy McNeill on his advice for the next generation of Out Bosses.

For over 25 years, Andy and his husband and business partner Todd have witnessed a number of ups and downs in the travel and event industry but believe the recent pandemic has changed the industry for good. Andy said the pandemic had driven the “largest, most jarring shift” they’ve experienced, and forced what AMI did to GROW during this challenging time.

In this interview, Andy also shares the philosophy of AMI’s Supplier Diversity Program and how it is successfully positioning minority businesses to pitch to large corporations and win bids. He gives tips on how to be more effective, as just being able to pitch doesn’t simply seal the deal. (Even though AMI’s suppliers have received millions of dollars in contracts because of the program.)

And finally, Andy shares how his LGBTQ life experience and the experiences of others in the community have allowed him to be MORE successful. He advises the next generation of Out Bosses to use their platform to offer themselves as beacons of safe space, education, and connection.

“If you aren’t your whole self at work, people can feel the un-authenticity. And when people aren’t comfortable with who I am or our philosophies, we are fine not working together because it won’t be successful for either party.”

Check out the podcast, The Out Entrepreneur here (@outentrepreneur), and be inspired today!

How Corporate Event Planners are Transitioning into Hybrid Meetings

How Corporate Event Planners are Transitioning into Hybrid Meetings

Restrictions on travel and in-person meetings are lifting, but uncertainty still exists for the event industry. For much of 2020, and even in 2021, corporate meeting planners had to quickly pivot to virtual meeting platforms, if not cancel long-planned events. Hybrid meetings will likely bring large gatherings back into the public space and may become the new normal for the corporate meetings industry.

Thankfully, this last year has helped shorten the learning curve, improve the technology, and built a foundation for best practices in the virtual and hybrid meeting arena. Virtual and hybrid events will continue to be elevated in their capabilities and acceptance.

Finding Solutions

Event planners will need to rely on their never-ending resourcefulness and creativity, just as always, just in the new meeting normal. This means that understanding live, virtual and hybrid events is more critical than ever. Understanding the benefits of each event type to best match client needs is vital. From there, using the right tools becomes the foundation of the event.

In live events, this could look like having the right team and venue. In virtual and hybrid events, it is critical to have an effective digital platform. For example, Zoom, one of many AMI partners, offers meetings for under 1,000 participants and webinars for up to 50,000. They also integrate with marketing softwares like Hubspot, payment portals like PayPal, and even transcription services.

Being Creative and Engaging

Don’t shy away from virtual tradeshows, keynotes, live entertainment, or town-hall-style panels. Technology and production teams are dedicated to hosting nearly anything virtually or through combined live and virtual hybrid presentations.

Regardless of the type of event, creativity and a focus on participant engagement help the event be successful. Understanding the target audience, using good pacing and/or layout, an engaging master of ceremonies, event swag, and opportunities to connect are all part of this engagement piece.

(Read this interview with AMI Partner Jason Alpert on why and how to hire a master of ceremonies for virtual events.)

Promoting Wider

One benefit of virtual and hybrid events is the ability to market and promote them outside a specific location while not requiring participant (or speaker) travel. Utilize QR codes to drive those engaging with tangible marketing materials online for information and registration.

Seamlessly connect registration and attendance for security and valuable data gathering, such as surveys, polls, and feedback forms.

Event planners, if you need support in building your hybrid production skills and teams to better prepare for virtual and hybrid events, AMI can help. Contact us today for more information.

American Meetings Network Prime Supplier Spotlight: Tempe Tourism Office

American Meetings Network Prime Supplier Spotlight: Tempe Tourism Office

Toni Smith (Director of Communications) and James Tevault (Director of Sales) of the Tempe Tourism Office recently spoke with AMI about becoming Prime Supplier Members of The American Meetings Network.

AMI: What are some of the challenges you are facing in the “New Normal”?

James: For us, it’s not so much a challenge but rather our choice to be forward-thinking and proactive. We want to help others in the meeting industries and build strong relationships. We know that business is going to look different going forward, and we want and need partners. Joining The American Meetings Network creates an opportunity for us to develop relationships we can build on.

Toni: The Prime Supplier Membership also provided us with an opportunity to educate more meeting and event planners on the value of Tempe – especially when they are already looking at the Greater Phoenix area. We often hear, “We had no idea” when we tell planners about Tempe, and we are looking to change that.

Toni: The Prime Supplier Membership also provided us with an opportunity to educate more meeting and event planners on the value of Tempe – especially when they are already looking at the Greater Phoenix area. We often hear, “We had no idea” when I tell planners about Tempe, and we are looking to change that.

“You can try to be everywhere – to have your name everywhere – but if you don’t have time to follow up and build those quality relationships, you are just wasting money.”

– James Tevault, Director of Sales, Tempe Tourism Office

AMI: What’s the one main thing Tempe Tourism Office is looking to gain from joining The American Meetings Network?

James: We are really interested in reaching more of the group market. Our sweet spot is corporate, association, and sports-related meetings in the small to mid-size. This network will give our sales team more opportunities to build prospects and relationships.

AMI is committed to helping our Network of trusted Prime Supplier Members to help drive revenue, especially as the face of the events industry continues to change in these times. To learn how your company fits into AMI’s innovative MICE Supplier Procurement strategy, please join Paul Steinmetz, Director of The American Meetings Network, Wednesdays at 10:00 AM ET, for a live webinar.

The American Meetings Network combines a robust meeting planner directory, strategic 1:1 matchmaker conference(s), and early RFP access to successfully drive revenue for your business. Join us to discover how American Meetings Network is uniquely positioned to be your partner on the road to recovery by signing up using the link below.

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