Tech changing meetings industry

Attendees and planners want to have control over meetings technology.

Attendees and planners want to have control over meetings technology.

NEW YORK—Technology influences every aspect of global commerce, and new research released in October by American Express Meetings & Events explores the many ways emerging technologies are changing the meetings industry landscape, as well as how that innovation can be harnessed to increase engagement and productivity and generate a greater return on a meetings investment. The American Express Meetings & Events report, titled “GREAT EXPECTATIONS: The Evolving Landscape of Technology in Meetings”, reveals the similarities and gaps in attendee and planner expectations across three areas of technological advancement: virtual and hybrid meetings, social media and events apps.

“Over the past decade, smartphones and wireless data have revolutionized the meeting and events experience for both planners and attendees, enabling the possibility of anywhere, anytime participation via virtual technologies and the integration of apps into meeting programs,” said Issa Jouaneh, vice-president and general manager, American Express Meetings & Events. “These technologies provide planners with greater opportunities to increase engagement and generate and capture real-time feedback, while attendees can gain a richer and more connected experience throughout the event life cycle.

“What our research has found, however, is that there can be an ‘expectation gap’ between the technologies meeting planners believe should be incorporated into an event, and the solutions attendees expect to be part of their meeting experience. What they have in common is that as good as technology is, there is simply no substitute for in-person meetings.”

On top of that, those attending and running meetings want to have control over technology in a hotel’s meeting space, according to a report in HotelNewsNow. This do-it-yourself trend has spurred some hotel operators to rethink the design, layout and technology offered by their properties, according to the article.

“The most important thing is people want to control (the meeting) by themselves,” said Barry Goldstein, chief revenue officer at Dolce Hotels and Resorts. “It used to be that there was always someone who had to set it up, plug it in.

“If 20 people are sitting around a table, instead of having one single device control the room, our customers want anyone in that room to be able to put their presentation on the screen.”

Goldstein said meeting attendees want flexibility, ease of use, participation by all and secure wireless, according to HotelNewsNow. Accordingly, Dolce has incorporated new tech features into its meeting rooms, including the ability to build a secure server onsite, improved bandwidth and touch-screen controls embedded on walls.

Gansevoort Hotel Group’s COO Elon Kenchington, quoted in HotelNewsNow, agreed clients want the ability to control everything in the room, but noted that it’s also key that the meeting space technology be operational to even novice users.

In June, the Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC announced the renovation of its executive boardroom, which totaled $80,000 in technology upgrades and $20,000 in refurbishment, included the addition of a point-to-point video conferencing system, state-of-the-art surround sound system, an 80-inch 1080p LED HDTV connected to both Apple and DirecTV and 100 Mbps Internet connection, among other features.