Maritz Research conducts comprehensive study to gauge what the future holds for meetings

If you’ve ever lost your way in a huge convention centre, confused by a maze of booths and meeting rooms, there just may be an app to help you get where you need to go. In fact, the use of apps for conventions and meetings offer a one-stop-shop or clearinghouse experience for everything from scheduled appointments, floor layout, seminars, social media, news and much more – all on smartphone and tablet devices. And bid a fond farewell to PowerPoint presentations because in the meetings of tomorrow, they are “yesterday.”

Maritz Research conducted an extensive project combining survey results, in-depth interviews and a review of industry literature to produce The Future of Meetings white papers. Meeting planners, designers, venue managers, exhibitors, suppliers and even attendees were asked to share their predictions and talk about the things they considered most important.

Four themes rose to the top: technology, social media, meeting venues and meeting design, however technology was a theme that crossed all four papers. “Technology is a blessing and a curse,” according to Rick Garlick, strategic consultant with Maritz Research Hospitality Group. “The job of a meeting planner is evolving. They need to wear many hats now. Not only do they have to handle the logistics, but they need to be involved in the meeting design process and increase their contribution to the learning aspect of the meeting as well in order to make sure attendees are engaged.”

Technology was the most prominent topic for the Maritz Research Future of Meetings survey respondents. The use of mobile devices and meetings specific applications designed for them will increase and the main technology tool for presentations will no longer be PowerPoint. Web-based delivery of meeting content and cloud computing for meeting management is a relatively new option and quickly beginning to be standard fare.

Generations were split on the pros and cons of using social media. For example, while younger respondents liked the immediacy of using twitter to interact with speakers during live presentations, older attendees saw it as a distraction. Respondents also discussed the double-edge sword of social media use. It will spread news, good or bad with equal speed. It is permanent and unavoidable and choosing not to participate or even be aware of conversations does not diminish their impact.

The future of meeting design is dictated by the need for a measureable return-on-investment (ROI) after the meeting. Meeting organizers need to align the meeting and business objectives beforehand. Meetings that are not well designed will not be successful in providing a good ROI. Meeting venues also are becoming more specialized and must rely on more highly trained technical staff to support new technology and greater connectivity.

The Future of Meetings study is being released in partnership with The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Foundation.


The Maritz Research Future of Meetings Survey was conducted through an online survey of 1,612 meetings sector stakeholders. Forty-six per cent currently work as meeting planners with another 43 per cent employed as suppliers to the meetings industry. The remainder represented a diverse group including speakers, attendees and procurement agents. In addition, numerous in-depth interviews were conducted with sector experts and commentators, as well as an extensive literature review including published academic reports and articles.

For more information and to view the separate white papers, visit

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