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5 Trends for 2018 and what it means for meetings

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2018trendsEach year, Trend-Watching releases their top consumer trends for the year to come. We scoured the report for trends that will impact meeting professionals and change the way they design events for their attendees. Here are our top 5. 

1. A-COMMERCE

“Here’s what comes after e-commerce and m-commerce. In 2018, consumers outsource their retail behaviors. Are you ready for AUTOMATED COMMERCE? This trend is about a shift that’s about as deep as it gets: towards a world in which you’ll be selling to algorithms as well as humans. The implications – for your pricing strategy, your entire approach to marketing and messaging, and more – are endless.”

What it means for meetings

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are the buzz words of the moment (with Montréal growing as a global hub for AI research), and event professionals will need to incorporate this new technology into everything from their websites to mobile apps. 

2. ASSISTED DEVELOPMENT

“Post-demographic consumers…are crafting new narratives of adulthood. In 2018, they’ll look to brands to help. Think digital superpowers, the sharing economy, co-working spaces, on-demand lifestyles and more. In 2018, those consumers will expect brands to leverage all that to help them craft the narratives of adulthood that suit them. Start by asking: how are those narratives changing for the people we serve? What life goals and life staging posts would they look to us to help achieve?”

What it means for meetings

Meeting design will change to respond to an attendee’s hunger to learn new skills, outsource personal tasks and live life-changing experiences. Event professionals could find themselves creating cool co-working spaces (and Montréal has several great and inspiring co-working spots), reminder tools or presenting attendees with one-of-a-kind connections with local leaders in their field. 

3. VIRTUAL COMPANIONS

“[This] is the year that millions of consumers start to feel it is possible to have a meaningful conversation… with virtual entities that entertain, educate, heal and even befriend. Start by asking: if our brand came to life, what kind of personality would it have? What kind of companion should it be to our customers?”

What it means for meetings

The emergence of AI in 2018 continues with integration of chat bots and other types of virtual concierges into mobile apps. As these technologies become more refined, event professionals may consider chat bots answer routine questions during their meetings and integrating voice search into their mobile apps.

4. FORGIVING BY DESIGN

“In 2018 [consumers will] expect all kinds of products and services to forgive them when their past – the product they selected, the size they chose, the service they wanted – doesn’t match their future. How? By near-magically adapt around their changing needs, wants and whims.”

What it means for meetings

The desire to purchase confidently without fear of buyer’s remorse will translate into more flexible registration models that allow attendees to take advantage of Early Bird rates without being obligated to commit to specific dates or sessions. Savvy meeting organizers will add perks to those who have already registered, reinforcing that feeling of confidence while building anticipation for the event.

5. GLASS BOX WRECKING BALLS

“[This] shift is thanks to the radical transparency made possible by a connected world. And it brings with it an equally radical implication: your internal culture is becoming part of your brand. And if a WRECKING BALL does hit you in 2018, take prompt action and be totally transparent about what you’re doing to put things right.

What it means for meetings

This past year has seen a series of scandals where past wrong-doings go public with explosive results. People expect transparency and 2018 will be the year to reflect on internal processes and culture. Do people feel free to speak up? Are there any skeletons in your organization’s closet that need to be addressed? Trend Watch’s message for 2018 is to be proactive: Nothing stays hidden forever.

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