The Herman Trend Alert|
May 2, 2001
Thousands of people gather each year for meetings, conferences, seminars, tradeshows, and conventions sponsored by trade associations, professional societies, and corporations. They invest their time to learn, be entertained, and get stimulated to drive for higher performance. Traditional meetings are threatened by emerging technologies such as video conferencing and on-line or telephonic virtual meetings. Or are they? Are these technological approaches to group communication really a threat?
The primary organization in the meetings industry is Meeting Professionals International. Their annual Meeting Outlook survey revealed, not surprisingly, that the overall number of meetings is expected to increase by nine percent in 2001. Among those predicting an increase, 26 percent will conduct more regional meetings, 15 percent more national meetings, and 17 percent more international meetings.
The increase in regional meetings is consistent with the trend toward growing autonomy for sub-units of large corporations. While national meetings have their value, corporate leaders now strive to build local and regional cohesiveness, partnership, and collaboration. What better way than to get people together on a relatively local level to work through the issues of concern to them?
More national meetings will be held to facilitate a healthy interchange of ideas, knowledge, and experiences. Corporate executives searching for answers, new approaches, or at least some comfortable reinforcement that they're on the right track are driving this trend.
But what of technology? Growth will continue here, as well. As the operational systems become more comfortable and smooth, more companies and associations will conduct videoconferences. These gatherings can be quite effective for short meetings to explore issues, share and discuss vital information, and educate and train people more efficiently. With today's rush-rush lifestyle, many people don't want to take too much time off to travel to a meeting in a distant city. It's a lot more convenient to use technology and stay home, particularly for short meetings. Executives are noting that it makes no sense to take longer to travel to a meeting than the meeting will last.
Electronic meetings will increase, but with no reliable way to track them and report them for survey purposes.
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