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
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.)
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.
Michelle McGann, professional golfer and Palm Beach local, shares her favorite golf courses and places to shop. Plus, we sit down with The Breakers’ Senior Vice President of Sales, Jim Mostad, who breaks down the hotel’s greatest offers and amenities, which led to Palm Beach becoming America’s first resort destination. As in all of our destination discoveries, we talk about local flare, popular sites to visit, and the unique activities to make your next meeting or event the best ever. As America’s first resort destination, Palm Beach is truly a sight to behold and a place full of exciting things to do with your meeting or travel partners.
Todd Bludworth and Andy McNeill are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings Inc. From sourcing hotels in Palm Beach to corporate event management in Palm Beach, their team sources corporate event venues and have a team of corporate meeting planners in Palm Beach for their clients. They provide ideas for convention themes and how to run global meetings and events in Palm Beach and around the world. For more information go to www.americanmeetings.com.
Watch the episode here:
Turning pro at the young age of 18, Michelle has played in almost 40 tournaments in her first year alone. Her career brought her around the world and allowed her to play with the most prominent people, from George W. Bush to Michael Jordan.
Palm Beach is home to some of the most beautiful golf courses out there. For Michelle, the course at Seminole is somewhat challenging, but The Bear’s Club offers the true challenge. She also frequents the Old Palm, a club that she represents, and the Jupiter Hills Club, which is one of her favorites situated on the side of a mountain.
Michelle was diagnosed with diabetes when she was young. Her challenging life fighting this disease inspired her to start the Michelle McGann Fund, which brings diabetic children to camp to educate them and help build their self-confidence.
Michelle’s Favorite Food Places
Captain Charlie’s Reef Grill
The Barcelo Aruba
Russo’s Submarine Sandwich Shop
Rapid Fire Questions With Michelle
Have you ever completed anything on your bucket list? My entire life is a bucket list, and I’ve ticked so many boxes off.
If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be? Ireland, because of its greenery that you see in pictures, magazines, and books.
When packing for a trip what is something you bring that might surprise people? A soft pillow and several pillowcases so I can switch them out.
What is your most memorable experience in Palm Beach? As a local, I’m just grateful to live in such a great community and blessed to have so many wonderful friends and family.
Andy and Todd’s Top 10 Bucket List
Walking down Worth Avenue Drive
Chartering JFK’s Presidential Yacht
Visiting Peanut Island
Enjoying the five-day SunFest event
Immersing into the polo community in West Palm between January and April
Attending the Palm Beach Food and Wine Festival every December
Seeing the annual Honda Classic PGA Tour
Taking part in the Spa Wellness Month during the whole month of October
Joining a baseball spring training
Going to the Whitehall at the Flagler Museum
Jim Mostad, Senior Vice President – Sales at The Breakers
Dubbed as the crown jewel of Palm Beach, The Breakers Hotel is an iconic place and an admirable resort destination in Florida. Founded in 1896 by Henry Flagler, it withstood the test of time and is still owned by his direct descendants. Its current Senior Vice President – Sales, Jim Mostad, has experienced working in conferences services before getting his current position.
The Breakers’ Most Desirable Amenities
A dozen of exciting restaurants
140-acre golf course
Tremendous tennis complex
Jim also highlights the hotel’s signature experience: bungalows. Unlike some destinations were renting one means only getting a pop-up tent, The Breakers ups the game by offering an entire facility. It includes restrooms, an air conditioning unit, and a television. Concierge services, dining options, and recreational activities are all available in the bungalow.
The Breakers is also not short of flavorful cuisine. Jim highly recommends dining at the Seafood Bar and Adam D. Tihany. To make the trip to Palm Beach a bit more memorable, he also recommends visiting when annual events are taking place, particularly the Concours d’Elegance and Cavallino Classic.
Jim’s Top 3 Favorite Things To Do In The Breakers
Riding a bicycle along the Palm Beach bike trail
Renting a bungalow for a day
Visiting the Flagler Museum
About Jim Mostad
Jim has spent 36 years at The Breakers in various Sales and Conference Services positions. Current responsibilities include overseeing group, social, event sales and conference services.
Nearly a long long resident of Florida, and hobbies include golf and fishing!
About Michelle McGann
Michelle first stepped on the golf course when she was only 7 years old, having special “alone” time with her dad and learning how powerful she could feel from the perfect swing. At age 13 she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, but through diet, monitoring and proper medications, her diabetes has proved to be just another challenge in the game.
The sport has kept her traveling as a 3-time Florida State Junior Champion, the 1987 USGA Junior Girls Champion, AJGA Rolex Junior Player of the Year, 1987 Rolex Junior First-Team All-American, and the 1988 Doherty Cup Championship. She was also recognized by GOLF Magazine and GOLF Digest as Amateur of the Year in 1987. At age 18, Michelle decided to skip college and give the LPGA tour a go, making it on her first attempt!
Since joining the LPGA Tour, she has won 8 professional tournaments and participated in two (2) Solheim Cups. She has been fortunate to play golf with Presidents, captains of industry, and some of the greatest sportsmen and women in history.
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As the Founder and CEO of American Meetings, Inc. (or AMI,) Andy McNeill was invited to speak on the Destination Marketing Podcast. Overall, this podcast supports tourism marketers in staying up to date on industry trends, technologies, and strategies to be the most effective they can be despite being typically understaffed and overworked.
Involved closely with the events and meetings industry for over 30 years, Andy has successfully navigated industry fluxes through the September 11th terrorist attacks, subsequent recession, and the recent 2020-2021 Covid-19 pandemic. His company, AMI, focuses on large corporate events across 60 countries worldwide and will be celebrating 20 years in business in January 2022.
In this Destination Marketing Podcast episode, Andy shares why hybrid events are so attractive in the face of recent pandemic and work-from-home challenges, and how we can leverage these changes to grow. There is nothing better than face-to-face meetings in beautiful destinations, but hybrid events make sense, and they aren’t going away.
“We just went through a global pandemic and some people are just not wanting to get on an airplane. That doesn’t mean we can’t have a great event; it just means we may want to plan on offering it virtually (as well).”
–Andy McNeill, AMI Founder
Check out the podcast for tips on how to incorporate virtual elements into live events and why. And hear how one corporation got creative to build value and connection with a multi-location event.