Meetings, conferences, and events are very important today to establish a person-to-person touch point. Meetings remain one of the most effective ways by which people can exchange information, get feedback, plan, collaborate and make the right decisions at the right time. Meetings can be made more useful by transcribing the minutes with the help of a business transcription service. The prepared transcripts are helpful for managers to review the discussions, decisions taken and the new ideas generated. Given the increasing value of meetings and events, the role of meeting planners is also growing in importance because it is their responsibility to ensure a unique experience for all attendees.
New Studies Show Importance of Meetings in the US Economy
A new report “Economic Significance of Meetings to the US Economy” from Oxford Economics, commissioned by the Events Industry Council and supported by the Meetings Mean Business Coalition and other partners, says that the Meetings and Events industry plays an important role in supporting a thriving and healthy US economy. The report shows that the industry continues to grow across all sectors of the US economy. Meetings contribute hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue and support 5.9 million jobs. In 2016, meetings generated $325 billion of direct spending and $845 billion in business sales. The report also showed that there were 1.9 million meetings in 2016, with 251 million attendees. Direct spending on meetings rose up to 23 percent between 2009 and 2016 due to increase in the number of meeting participants.
The data in the report came from a nationwide survey of meetings, planners, exhibitors, domestic travellers, venues and hotels. It also measured both direct and indirect levels of industry impact, revealing that meetings supported more direct jobs than many large manufacturing sectors including food, auto, machinery and chemicals. Face-to-face meetings are also of high impact in the long term, and every dollar spent generates an additional $1.60 benefits for the US economy. According to Susan Robertson, CAE, executive vice president of ASAE and chair of the Events Industry Council, there has been “a critical need for information quantifying the significance of face-to-face meetings and business events to the US economy,” and hosting events and meetings brings new revenue to various industries.
- In 2016, the business service industry greatly benefited from meetings with $196.3 billion in total economic output, followed by the finance, insurance and real estate sectors that gained $141.1 billion.
- Food and beverage & hotels and lodging industries that are closely aligned to meetings and events also stand to benefit. In 2016, $48 billion was spent to provide food and beverage services at meetings, and meetings generated 300 million room nights.
Studies confirm that the Meetings and Events industry plays a crucial role in connecting people and strengthening crucial segments of the US economy.
Ensuring a Unique Meeting Experience
For meetings to be productive, they should be planned and conducted in the right way. So, what are the major considerations in this regard?
- Meetings should be value-added and offer a unique experience: Today, people are looking for maximum purpose and utility out of everything including events and meetings. Therefore, organizers should consider how each aspect of the event can be enhanced to provide extra benefits. A simple example is printing an overview of the schedule on the back of name tags – this will provide attendees with a convenient and easy way of checking what is coming up next. Fastidious planning will definitely draw appreciation from the attendees and leave a lasting impression on them.
- Ensure a fresh perspective by including keynote speakers outside of your industry: This will help inspire creative thinking. A speaker who questions some accepted opinion or common practice could persuade thinking in a new direction and generate more insightful ideas. In other words, organizers could consider inviting speakers who can persuade the attendees to think out-of-the-box.
- Customization is a great idea: To cater to a diverse group of attendees, it is important to ensure enhanced, customized elements. Personalization goes beyond just using an attendee’s name in conference communications.
- Meeting planners could offer attendees the opportunity to offer their opinion/advice on some of the activities or sessions even before the actual event. This will help find out what attendees want and also help them feel involved in the event.
- A conference app that provides personalized suggestions for activities in real time is also a good option. An integrated GPS tracker could guide users to nearby attractions and local dining options.
- Ensure that participants have time to relax: Meetings and conferences can be quite demanding for participants with many sessions to attend, notes to take, people to meet and booths to visit. It is important that attendees are given the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate their minds with practical workshops, art exhibits, wellness activities and outdoor activities.
Meetings can take place at work, within an organization or in the community. These provide excellent opportunities for creative thinking, brainstorming and improved decision-making. Active engagement of all people concerned can help in generating more innovative ideas. Meeting organizers must think creatively and organize the event in such a manner that will prove fruitful for all participants. It is also important to obtain transcripts of all proceedings with the help of reliable business transcription services because this will help review the meeting, and plan better for future events.