This is the second of two parts.
Strategic planning, procurement, virtual technology and green issues are reshaping meetings globally, just as they are in the U.S.
Alise Long, CMM, manager, corporate events & meetings for DSM, a life sciences company based in The Netherlands, spoke with Travel Market Report on how new trends, especially technology, are having an impact.
What are the top trends in meetings?
Long: One of the Top 5 right now is the increasing involvement of the sourcing department – having a sourcing professional as part of the team to ensure the use of preferred suppliers; having a consistent supplier selection and negotiation process; and using a local contracting expert consistently.
What are the other top trends in your view?
Long: The increasing importance of strategic meetings management; decreasing budgets; increasing focus on green meetings and community projects; and increasing improvement and enforcements of travel policies.
Advancements in technology are ongoing and are a key driver or enabler for each of these five trends.
How are meetings themselves changing? What’s cutting edge now?
Long: There is much more focus and emphasis on linking content and activities with the company’s strategy and brand values.
Meetings and events must be meaningful. If it isn’t relevant to what we do as a company and the direction in which we are headed, then it doesn’t happen.
We are always asking, ‘Is this the right meeting for this audience at this time? Is a face-to-face meeting necessary? How frequently do we really need to bring this group together?’
How are new technologies affecting the meetings landscape in The Netherlands – virtual meetings, mobile apps, etc.?
Long: Because technology is always changing we now ask, ‘What is the best use of technology to bring people together and to create the right experience?’
Three years ago we ran a virtual meeting for our top 400 leaders, linking five locations on three continents. We used our in-house videoconferencing capability. It had never been done before in our company on such a scale.
Since then we have seen the number of in-house virtual meetings take off.
How else is technology affecting meetings?
Long: In-house broadcasting has also become an important part of our meeting media mix.
We use our internal DSM TV channel to communicate with every employee in the company. We are thus able to provide all of our 22,000 employees worldwide with insight and feeling for what is happening at a meeting or event anywhere in the world.
Large global meetings are now more open affairs and participation extends beyond those physically present.
Please see related article, “Europeans More Creative With Meetings, Dutch Planner Says,” Dec. 15, 2011