Meeting Market Trends
Northstar Meetings Group presents a new editorial series focusing on some of the hottest and most important meetings industry segments. Our in-depth coverage pinpoints trends, provides critical insights and offers expert advice for buyers and sellers in key sectors.
Read more in our series here
Sparked by interest from players in all vertical markets along with rapid solutions development, the technology meetings market is as hot as many of the innovations spotlighted at technology-industry events. And it's not slowing down anytime soon.
"There is indeed a growth in this segment," says Linda McNairy, vice president, global operations and shared services, meetings and events, American Express Global Business Travel. "We are seeing this within the portfolio of meetings and events we manage on behalf of our customers."
Such growth isn't limited by type of event; rather, it is occurring across the board, according to Beth Carrasco, project manager, high tech, BCD Meetings & Events. BCD has seen an uptick in the number of conferences, trade shows, summits, seminars/workshops and road shows centered on technology, Carrasco says, noting that meetings activity in the technology segment is particularly strong in the third and fourth quarters of the year.
Increased and record attendance at a variety of technology-industry meetings and events underscore what McNairy and Carrasco have to say about how this segment of the market is flourishing. For example, CES 2018 attracted 182,198 attendees from 160 countries — "the second consecutive year attendance has been over 182,000 as the show expands to represent every major and emerging [consumer-technology] industry," according to a statement from the Consumer Technology Association, which owns and produces the event. An audit of CES 2019, slated for release in late June 2019, is expected to reveal another significant bump in attendance, CTA officials say.
Elsewhere in the segment, MURTEC 2019 (Multi-Unit Restaurant Technology Conference, produced by Hospitality Technology magazine) saw an 8.5 percent increase in restaurant-operator attendance and an 11 percent uptick in the number of participating technology companies. Close to 900 technology executives flocked to the event, notes Abigail Lorden, brand director.
Meanwhile, nearly 43,000 attendees participated in the 2018 edition of InfoComm, an annual audiovisual and related technology conference and trade show held by AVIXA, formerly the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association. This breaks a record set in 2015, when the event drew 39,105 attendees. AVIXA InfoComm 2019, held in mid-June 2019, was expected to attract an even greater number of attendees.
What's pushing the technology-meeting growth envelope? Chalk it up in part, McNairy says, to the increasing availability of technology solutions and ever-heightening desire of professionals to utilize these solutions as easily in their professional lives as within their personal lives. "If you think about it and look around, there is a technology solution to automate virtually any task that exists within a business, and the need to bridge these tools together into streamlined and efficient solutions for business has yet to be fully solved," she explains. "As such, there is a need for meetings and conferences to facilitate the discussions, solution development and best-practice establishment."
Also moving the needle is recognition among stakeholders in every vertical market that organized meetings centering on technology are important because of the increasingly significant role different solutions play in every industry segment, and because understanding how these technologies apply to individual segments is paramount. "This is happening in every vertical market you can think of, from farming to pharmaceutical, to banking services and beyond," states meetings technology consultant Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP, DES, of Corbin Ball Associates.
In addition, just as the breadth of industries jumping on the technology meetings bandwagon is expanding, so, too, is the number and variety of solutions providers leading the development charge — in turn creating a need for more technology events and participation. Carrasco names digital-marketing solution providers among these players, along with vendors that play in the big data, artificial intelligence, cloud service, information security and gamification spaces.
"Technology integration, AI, sales-automation tools — all are generating interest across verticals, with greater demand for education about how to use them," Ball asserts, adding that virtual and augmented reality also are garnering attention in many markets.
Technology meeting producers' use of meeting technology may be upping the ante as well, specifically by bolstering attendee engagement — and, accordingly, attendees' desire to participate in their future events. For instance, "virtual reality is exploding right now with very exciting use cases," McNairy observes. "Facial recognition is being utilized not only for traditional applications such as expediting check-in processes, but also for measuring audience response and emotional reactions" in an effort to attract and retain audiences. "Each event must create more engagement and 'wow' than the previous one, using the most thoughtful cocktail of virtual reality, augmented reality, drones, alternate screens, e-sport solutions, holograms and much more."
More Growth Ahead
Not surprisingly given these trends, the technology-meeting sector is anticipated to continue on its growth trajectory.
"We would expect to see an increase, particularly in more of the larger events," Carrasco notes, attributing her prediction to the consistently rapid rate of technology development in all vertical markets.
McNairy agrees. She adds that while some niche technology conferences may consolidate with larger ones to make attendance easier and more economical for delegates and vendors alike, a wider breadth of technology solutions — including, but not limited to, webinars, multi-location broadcasting and virtual reality — will be leveraged at "combined" events to enhance the educational component and overall attendee experience there. Such improvements will lead to increased attendance, McNairy says.
The Tech Mecca of Tomorrow: Atlanta, GA
Home to a thriving culture of art, history, nationally acclaimed food, entertainment and transformational developments, Atlanta is also one of the fastest-growing cities for technology in the nation. Named by Forbes as the No. 3 American city poised to become one of tomorrow's tech meccas, this world-class tech hub is leading the way in creating a national center for innovation and industry growth.
Powered by the strength of more than 13,000 technology companies, Georgia’s capital city hosts an abundance of major technology conferences and events every year and is established for its strengths in telecom, cybersecurity, digital media and a thriving mobility ecosystem. Many tech companies have put down roots in Atlanta, including AT&T, Equifax Inc., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., General Electric Co., and many more.
Learn how to tap into this city of innovation and advancement. Contact Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau for more information or start your RFP today.