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Fearless Forecasts For 2012

Listen to these old industry trends I dug up looking through magazines in the attic: shorter and smaller meetings, meeting closer to home, more focus on content, shift away from luxury venues, evaluating objectives, decreasing lead times, doing more with less. Those were the hot buttons of another decade.

Fast-forward to the trends identified for 2012 in a just-released survey by American Express Meetings and Events: shorter and smaller meetings, meeting closer to home, more focus on content, shift away from luxury venues -- say, am I living in some kind of parallel universe?

Despite the results of the American Express survey, it’s hard to argue the meetings industry has undergone monumental change in recent years -- so much so that my own crystal ball for the next 12 months reveals some unusual themes you may or may not be hearing about. Take a look:

FACE TO FACE IS DEAD. Industry pundits, having fought off every challenge since the first videoconferencing to their claim that live events will always be essential, finally declare in 2012 that face-to-face meetings are dead. Authorities set up a special organization, called Let’s Face It LLC, to dismantle the meetings and events industry and, as their first act, announce a large live event in Las Vegas to celebrate the end of live events.

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS UNITE. It’s billed as one of the largest consolidations ever, a mega-merger of all the major social media networks to create a sole super social society. Companies report radical jumps in productivity, saying employees are sleeping better, not waking so early or staying up so late to keep up with all their conversations, and coming to work fresher and more energized. The new super social site is called “The Twit.”

VENUES BY AMAZON.COM.  A new service allows meeting planners to find and book meeting venues on Amazon. Incredible features allow planners to actually negotiate with mock hotel sales reps – certain prompts allow them to create their own rep profile features and appearances. Venue gift cards are available, new and used venues are listed, and there are several delivery options.

NEW PRODUCT BOOSTS EMPLOYEE MORALE, EFFICIENCIES AND GROWS REVENUE. Developers in Santa Clara unveil a technology that, with one click, accomplishes many of the key objectives used to measure ROI at meetings without the need to even have the actual meeting.

CONTENT IS NO LONGER KING. Long considered one of the core reasons for attending events, experts proclaim an end to content as His Royal Highness, and usher in a new era known as The Age of Discontent.

BLOGGERS IMPRISONED. Failing to adhere to new laws demanding that learning objectives and relevance be stated in a blog’s first 50 words, government agents arrest thousands of bloggers and confine them to restricted quarters with access only to paper and pencils.

ASSOCIATION CREATED TO STUDY VALUE OF ASSOCIATIONS. A new industry association surfaces to evaluate how associations can stay meaningful, offer unique services, and retain membership in the face of competitive pressures and growing skepticism. The Association for Assessing Associations (commonly known as “Three Asses”) is still looking for its first members and industry volunteers after several months in existence.

ATTENDEE ENGAGEMENTS UP 62 PERCENT. Research reveals more attendees are meeting their significant others at industry events and setting plans for lifetime bliss and families full of baby planners.

CASUAL FRIDAY RENAMED. Close to two decades after the term “Casual Friday” came into existence to represent a generally accepted dressing-down day from formal office dress codes, several industry organizations commission a high-profile consulting firm to develop a more appropriate name now that more comfortable and practical attire is accepted pretty much every day. After exhaustive analysis, the consultants recommend the day now be called “Friday.”

So there you have it – my unofficial “head’s up” for 2012. Thanks for living in such an exciting industry, and thanks for allowing me to work and play in it along with you.

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