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The Key to Executing Smarter Meetings

Event Management technology has enabled companies to better manage complex enterprise-wide meeting related processes, spend, volumes and policies while collecting a vast amount of valuable attendee and event data. One of the most profound benefits of this technology is that it has nearly rendered spreadsheets and conference binders obsolete. However, we often forget that it can be used to improve the attendee experience as well. It seems that SMM technology that can quantify the Return On Events (ROE) and attendee engagement is now playing an important role in bringing back the relevancy of in-person meetings.  
 
After the 2008 economic downturn, corporations were forced to cut their B2B marketing budgets. First on the chopping block were the in-person events, tradeshows and seminars. As a result, budgets shifted toward emerging digital technology.
 
Strategic meetings are making a comeback. 
According to the 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers’ study “The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy,” there were more than 1.8 million corporate meetings, trade shows, conventions, congresses, incentive events and other meetings that took place in 2012. Between 2009 and 2012 meetings grew by 10%. Not surprisingly, Strategic Meetings and technology have had an ambivalent relationship.
On the downside, digital technology is replacing the need for some types of traditional in-person meetings. For example, associations and other professional groups are implementing online learning management systems to deliver their educational programs in lieu of offering in-person sessions. Additionally, video conferencing has also become ubiquitous in the workplace.
 
On the upside, digital technology such as event mobile apps are radically changing the attendee experience. Conference attendees are given real-time access to the event schedule and map, along with the ability to rate sessions, or in some instances, enable gamification.
 
As a result, SMM technology is evolving to capture more Event Intelligence, including digital bread crumbs pertaining to the attendee experience, including preferences, interests, desire and behavior. With this Intelligence in hand, event planners can design and execute smarter meetings.
 
Operational Intelligence is first. 
Event Intelligence must be built upon the foundation of robust Operational Intelligence, or the processes, reporting and accountability tied to the deliverables involving areas such as compliance, and budget and vendor management, among others.
 
During the budget review process, marketing departments are often expected to justify in-person events before requesting increases to their meetings budget. The most effective way to demonstrate this need is to use Operational Intelligence to derive actionable insights about the impact of meetings.
 
Proving that prior years’ meetings were executed within budget and that every penny is accounted for is crucial to that process. Providing robust measurements of Return On Event (ROE) investment along with reports on accountability and compliance always results in organizational buy-in and, ultimately, approval.


 
Why execute Smarter Meetings? 
While meeting face-to-face and networking with peers is an important part of B2B sales and career development, the gains that digital technology have brought to the meetings industry can’t be ignored or rolled back. There is an undeniable relationship between satisfaction and ROE that is compounded by the fact that attendees must be selective with the meetings and conferences they attend - since there are countless choices. To stand out, planners can use Event Intelligence to create actionable insights on how to improve event delivery, as well as curate and personalize the event to maximize engagement.  

Today’s attendees exemplify the on-demand economy, where consumers are accustomed to instant gratification and the seamless access to and delivery of content. They expect a personalized experience in addition to great venues, outstanding service, and an emotional connection to the event. In-person meetings are not going away. Rather, dynamic, curated events are replacing the antiquated style of passive, in-person meetings – benefiting both attendees and the entire industry.