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 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!

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.

How the Pandemic Changed Live Events for the Better

How the Pandemic Changed Live Events for the Better

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.

Best Destinations for Summer Meetings and Events

Best Destinations for Summer Meetings and Events

DE 28 | Best Summer Destinations


It’s time for your team’s summer summit! Whether your business event or meeting warrants more time in the sun or away from the heat, the world has so much to offer when it comes to this wonderful travel season. In this spotlight episode, Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth shine the light on their top five best destinations for summer travel. They take a quick round trip to the northerly charms of Vancouver, Scotland, and Alaska, the tropical paradise of Bali, and the southerly quirks of South Africa. They also mention a couple of US and European cities that are worth visiting this summer. Listen in and get ready to pack your bags at one or more of these inspiring destinations!

Todd Bludworth and Andy McNeill are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings Inc. From sourcing hotels to corporate event management, their team sources corporate event venues and have a team of corporate meeting planners for their clients. They provide ideas for convention themes and how to run global meetings and events around the world. For more information go to

Watch the episode here:

Best Destinations For Summer Travel

The world has a lot to offer when it comes to summer. Whether you’re looking to achieve a sun-kissed glow or escape the oppressing heat of your city, you are sure to find treasures all over the globe that will satisfy your hankering for summer travel. Scouring the world from north to south and from east to west, Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth take on the tough, but fun task of picking the best places that you can take your family, team, or clients to during the sunny season.

First off, just across the border – the beautiful city of Vancouver. Sitting on Canada’s Pacific coast, the world-famous city features a unique urban setting surrounded by nature. From dozens of outdoor activities to exhilarating events, you’re never going to run out of things to do in this diverse and colorful city.

Top Events and Activities in Vancouver

  • Canada Day parades
  • Celebration of Light fireworks displays over English Bay
  • August Pride Parade
  • Hiking
  • Water Expeditions
  • Wildlife Tours

Halfway across the world is fair old Scotland. If you’re into long walks in historical walled towns, then the city of Edinburgh is a perfect destination for you. There is a good reason why this centuries-old city is the second most visited city in the United Kingdom. Scotland is also home to what many would argue are some of the best things in the world – golf and whiskey – all the more reason to take your plaid jackets on a plane to this Northern European charm.

If you’re more into tropical excursions this summer, then head down the Equator to Bali, Indonesia. It is safe to say that this little Hindu-Buddhist island is on everybody’s bucket list. April to October is Bali’s dry season and it is also the perfect time to enjoy its offerings while avoiding high rates at the same time. Be careful, though. Half of your sales team may not want to go back if you take them to this picturesque paradise!

Top Outdoor Activities in Bali

  • Hiking Mt. Batur at sunrise
  • Visiting the Hindu temple, Pura Ulun Danu Batur
  • Snorkeling in the black sand beach of Lovina
  • Temple and beach hopping

When it’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the winter dry season in South Africa – the perfect season to visit this beautiful place. You can go inland into Johannesburg and ride along on a safari just outside the city. You can explore Kruger National Park, which is South Africa’s oldest national park and one of the best places to spot Africa’s iconic wildlife. For cooler weather and raw, beautiful beach sceneries, you can head down to Cape Town and enjoy the lower fares and fewer crowds during this season.

Closer to home, Alaska has proven itself to be one of the most popular destinations in North America. With 19 hours of sunlight at this time of the year, there is plenty of time to enjoy the state’s gorgeous outdoors, amazing wildlife, and beautiful views. It’s relatively easy to go there. You can just hop on a plane or one of those excellent cruise ships that ply their way to the state during this season.

Those are the top five destinations that you can tick off your bucket list this summer, but there are some great honorable mentions that you might also want to consider.

Top US Destinations for Summer Travel

  • Chicago
  • Bar Harbor, Maine
  • Acadia National Park
  • San Diego
  • Boston
  • Napa Valley

Other Interesting Picks

  • Paris, London, Rome, Dublin, Monaco and all other major European cities
  • Morocco
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina

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