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Technology Shakes Up the MICE Industry

Posted September 19, 2016

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In the world of corporate travel, it’s hard to ignore the innovations coming from and being used within the meetings, incentives, conferences, and expos (MICE) space. Meetings industry technology, which brings a “coolness” factor that can draw attendees and enhance their experience, is also enabling meeting planners to work more effectively. And the outlook looks positive for continued growth.

The 2016 spring edition of Meeting Professionals International’s Meetings Outlook reveals that 70% of meetings industry professionals project business conditions over the coming year will be favorable and 59% predict favorable budget/spend over the next year. What’s more, 16% named “more valuable technology” as a top issue. This is good news for those who are adopting technology to bring more productivity, value, cost savings, accuracy and revenue to their meetings and events. Let’s look at how, what and why they’re adopting tech:

Staying Connected

MICE attendees may leave their offices to attend industry events, but they’re taking their productivity devices with them. That’s why it’s imperative that meeting planners and venues provide broadband internet access. IACC’s 2016 Meeting Room of the Future Report tells us what tasks survey respondents expect to be working on while connected at meetings over the next five years:

  • Delegate e-mail and Internet access 83%
  • Smartphone audience participation 77%
  • Conference app use 70%
  • Video streaming for presenter 67%
  • Live event streaming 56%
  • Virtual attendees 50%
  • Online learning 42%
  • Video streaming for delegates 41%
  • Beacon/GPS tracking of delegates 20%

Additionally, over 77% of respondents said that access to interactive technologies, such as tools to encourage audience participation, collaborative communication platforms and others, are more important now than they were five years ago. This suggests that meeting attendees will be doing a lot more than checking their e-mail and staying connected to the office back home—they’ll be engaging in all their event has to offer online.

Supporting Hybrid Meetings

Thanks to hybrid meeting solutions that connect speakers and attendees with online audiences, prospective meeting attendees who can’t get away from the office or take the time to travel don’t have to miss out on the meeting experience. They can (almost) fully participate in in-person events—it’s the next best thing to actually being there.

The 2016 Meetings Outlook survey found the outlook for virtual attendance is 57% positive, 36% flat, 7% negative. And interestingly, 8% of meeting professionals surveyed plan to use virtual reality as part of the meetings experience. Other technology surrounding hybrid meetings include live and pre-recorded videos, media and conference downloads and social media. Content that can be shared before, during, and after an event with remote attendees.

Social media

There’s no need to read between the lines to see that MICE-related social media use is driven by the younger generation of participants. Social media is ubiquitous in life outside of the professional realm and it’s quickly seeping into professional meetings and events. Here are some statistics to back the growth of social media use at events:

  • 19% of meeting professionals say they use social media at all of their meetings and 20% use it at most meetings (Meeting Professionals International’s 2016 Meetings Outlook survey)
  • The inclusion of social media language in meeting policy remains at 11% in Europe, it has risen to 20% across other regions and 29% in Asia (AmEx Global Business Travel’s 2016 Global Meetings and Events Forecast)
  • Social media campaigns are among the top three technologies implemented at meetings in the past five years (IACC’s 2016 Meeting Room of the Future Report)

Meeting Apps

In Meeting & Convention’s Meetings Industry Forecast 2016, David Dubois, the president and CEO of the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, estimates that 90% of shows now have an app. Convention apps are used for a range of purposes, from registering for an event, to checking event schedules, to submitting questions to the speakers during the live event.

AmEx Global Business Travel’s 2016 Global Meetings and Events Forecast found the most common ways they are used in North America is to improve engagement of attendees (29%), improve communications (27%), communicate schedule changes or emergency information (15%) and deliver documents electronically (10%). And according to 2016 Meetings and Events Forecast from Carson Wagonlit Travel, new app-based technology will emerge to create a more connected, innovative experience as well as to measure meeting ROI and effectiveness.

Payments

There are certainly opportunities for new technology to make payments easier, especially for global events. The AmEx Global Business Travel 2016 Global Meetings and Events Forecast revealed these top meeting payment challenges:

North America Europe Central/South America APAC
Acceptance of Desired Payment Type 11% 17% 12% 24%
Card Acceptance 10% 20% 38% 13%
Currency Exchange Fees on Card 6% 9% 10% 13%
Fee Charged for Utilizing the Card 13% 13% 17% 15%
Managing Pre-payment 25% 23% 15% 18%
Reconciling Final Bill to Estimate 35% 17% 8% 16%

The report notes that companies are interested in a more streamlined payment process that makes reconciliation easier, pointing to a card solution or virtual payment process that removes the time lag and enables “tighter” reconciliation.

Virtual card numbers (VCNs) are being embraced industrywide for their ability to reduce fraud, enhance controls and ease of paying international suppliers. Read

3 Reasons Virtual Credit Cards Will Become A Leading Corporate Travel Payment Option in 2016 for insights.

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