New research from American Express Meetings & Events shows that meeting attendees have higher levels of interest in event apps than social media initiatives and meeting planners remain interested in virtual meetings but lag behind attendees who want more virtual experiences.
“GREAT EXPECTATIONS: The Evolving Landscape of Technology in Meetings” looks at 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.”
Key findings include:
MEETING APPS: Sixty-seven percent of meeting planners found event apps to be important, compared to 55 percent of attendees. Communication and scheduling ranked among the most important app features for both planners and attendees; ability to participate in games and contests was least important to both groups. Attendees and planners cited having access to event schedules and session descriptions as key. Attendees also explained that they often use the app to schedule meetings with exhibitors and other attendees while on site.
SOCIAL MEDIA: The study revealed that social media is more vital to meeting planners than to attendees. Forty-three percent of planners felt social media capabilities are very important, while only 35 percent of attendees felt the same way. In addition, having a meetings hashtag is more important to planners than to attendees with 41 percent of planners indicating it’s extremely or very important. Similarly, only 39 percent of attendees felt that posting and reading commentary or reviews about a meeting or event is very important, while 50 percent of planners felt that way. Participating in games and contests via social media ranked low with both groups , with 54 percent of attendees and 41 percent of planners indicating that this feature was not important.
VIRTUAL MEETINGS VS IN PERSON MEETINGS: Attendees and planners both strongly agreed that in-person attendance continues to provide the best overall meeting experience. Seventy-four percent of attendees and 85 percent of planners believe that in-person meetings offer greater value because they offer more opportunities for social interaction. Forty-seven percent of attendees and 49 percent of planners agree that it’s difficult to participate when attending virtually and 68 percent of planners feel that attendees are too easily distracted when they attend virtually. However, the study showed that attendees are looking for more opportunities to attend meetings and events virtually: 63 percent of attendees agreed they would attend more meetings and events virtually if the option were available, while only 17 percent disagreed. However, 48 percent of planners surveyed did not agree that attendees would attend more meetings and events virtually if the option were available. Moreover, 45 percent of attendees believed virtaul attendance should be available for all meetings and events, while only 35 percent of planners agreed.
ABOUT THE SURVEY: American Express Meetings & Events surveyed 336 meeting planners and 161 meeting and event attendees in the first half of 2014. The survey was fielded globally, however respondents were primarily based in North America. Planners were required to have planned at least four meetings with more than 20 attendees in the past 12 months, including at least one virtual or hybrid meeting. Attendees were required to have attended at least three meetings or events with 20 or more attendees in the past 12 months, including at least one virtual or hybrid meeting.
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