“Does Our Industry Need Meetings Anymore?”
As a keynote speaker who works extensively with meeting planners and companies in the incentive industry, I know all too well about doom and gloom forecasts when it comes to industry meetings.
These are uncertain times for trade shows and the exhibition industry, and with it, meeting planners and incentive executives are often confused as to how to project into the future.
In March 2017, David McMillin in writing for the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) fired a warning shot that too many took to heart without reading the entire article:
“All good things must come to an end. After 25 consecutive quarters of year-over-year growth for the exhibition industry, the economists at the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) received the first dose of negative news with a 0.4-percent decline…” However, McMillin continued that there was “plenty of upside depending on how international trade and modernization of the industry would unfold in 2018.” Turns out, he was right.
In March 2019, the CEIR “Total Index” showed a strong 2018 rebound:
“The growth of the [meetings] industry, as measured by the CEIR Total Index, accelerated from a year-over-year gain of 0.9 percent in the third quarter to 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter.”
CEIR Economist Dr. Allen Shaw, stated: “The performance during the fourth quarter shows the resilience of the exhibition industry despite uncertainties surrounding the trade negotiation with China, volatile stock markets and slowing world economic growth.”
Shaw pointed out that while there have been huge gains in the Food, Government, and Raw Materials and Science sectors, on the other hand Consumer Goods and Retail Trade, Financial, Legal, Real Estate, and Transportation have not fared as well.
As an experienced meeting planner, you understand that while the economy may change, to eliminate meetings is the wrong approach to solving an industry’s problems. In fact, the reverse may be true.
Don’t Give in to Negativity
Doomsayers are more than willing to tell meeting planners that the “trade show is dead.” They point to the power of the internet, the new media, meeting software platforms, remote workers and co-working strategies as signaling the end to meetings.
Are these critics handcuffed by a lack of vision and the determination to be successful? I think so and many meeting professionals agree with me.
Mark Goren, an expert on trade show trends, wrote (August 2018): “What will the future of trade shows look like? Think experience meets relationship-building, or essentially, engagement marketing…where consumers are invited and encouraged to participate and actively engage with a brand through an experience. When it’s cleverly employed at trade shows, engagement marketing creates powerful, one-on-one connections…”
Maura Keller, writing for Association Conventions & Facilities said, “Creating a connection with the audience is paramount, and incorporating interactive elements within trade show design is key. Not surprising, interactivity within an exhibit booth is important to create a face-to-face connection and memorable experience for show attendees.”
Despite the doubters, in this digitized era meeting attendees crave real connection and relationships. The technology may be shifting but the need to engage with your audience, whether one-on-one, or one-to-one-thousand, has never been greater.
Negativity is crippling, but the determination and vision to overcome adversity will yield unbelievable results.
Book Scott Burrows, Keynote Speaker for the Meeting Planning and Incentive Industries, through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169