AIBTM Will Look to Crowdsourcing to Discover Future of Meetings

March 7, 2013

With more than 1,000 meeting planners, another 1,000 trade visitors and plenty of suppliers onsite for Reed Travel Exhibitions’ annual AIBTM – The Americas Incentive, Business Travel & Meetings Exhibition, it’s the perfect opportunity to reach out to the gathered community through crowdsourcing and ask them what the future of the meetings industry might look like.

“We want to know what they are seeing in their world,” said AIBTM Exhibition Director Michael Lyons.

He added, “We want to take all the info we gather, disseminate it and be able to say ‘this is what people are telling us.’ We want to know what the industry will look like two or three years down the road.”

AIBTM attendees, who will gather this year for the first time June 11-13 at Chicago’s McCormick Place, will have the opportunity to ‘crowdsource’ their ideas about what the future of the meetings industry might look like using their own smartphones or audience response systems during several education sessions.

“For all us in the industry, now we’re seeing the sunshine again, and yet what we’re finding is there’s a new normal,” Lyons said. “There were a lot of people shook up in the industry … Now that we’re come out of that dark period, where are we going in the next few years? We believe at AIBTM we need to provoke this kind of thought.”

The theme of the three-day, hosted buyer event is “Defining the Future of Meetings … Together”, and besides the education sessions, including ones held by several major associations on the event’s first day, there also will be a keynote luncheon during which J. Walker Smith, principal of the futures company, will speak about the continued value of face-to-face relationships in the current "kinship economy”, even in a digital age.

“The internet and social media are means not ends goal.  Face-to-face engagement is no less important than ever, and more often than not, technology is used in a social way to create more not less physical connection,” Walker said.

He added, “In both business and personal transactions, relationships continue to matter in this ‘kinship economy.’” 

Walker said this has big implications for the meetings industry because “the rise of social means that people are looking for more face-to-face connection when doing business, technology notwithstanding.”

In keeping with the theme of what meetings might look like in the future, there will even be ‘brain food’ served during the keynote, as well as a session beforehand about why eating ‘brain food’ is “particularly important during conferences, where food becomes the premium fuel to keep participants fully engaged, making smart decisions, staying focused, and most importantly - feeling good.”

Some other sessions that are on tap include “The Art of Engagement” that will talk about how to create a truly vibrant community and build deeper levels of engagement and “Hot Technologies 2013: It's #mobilesociallocal” that will take a look at technologies that are impacting people’s ways of doing business.

“We’re pretty pumped up about the direction we’re taking this year,” Lyons said. “We’re clearly happy we are in Chicago, one of the world’s greatest destinations.”

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