Big Data

What Big Data Can Mean for Your Meeting

Go beyond demographics to plan a better meeting experience.

It’s hard to miss the incessant buzz these days about Big Data. But what does it mean? It’s more than understanding how to cater to millennials. Learn how to use Big Data, or psychographics, to yield a better meeting.

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Michael Dominguez, MGM Resorts International’s senior vice president and chief sales officer, says demographics are dead when it comes to planning meetings today. Rather, psychographics—interests, attitudes, and opinions—are the key to success. “It’s a dramatic shift in how we look at things. It’s about on-demand and customization,” he says. Questions that need to be answered, for example:

  • What do you like?
  • What do you need?
  • How do you like things presented?

Brandon Hensley, chief operating officer of the International Sign Association (ISA), says the association is using demographic data from registration to segment its marketing. They know, for instance, that if the attendee is female and between the ages of 30 to 45, she is more likely to sign up for education sessions. “So we’ll market harder to her for education,” he says.

Also: The Expo moves between Las Vegas and Orlando, but some attendees go only to one city, so it’s pointless to send them direct mail about the other. “We’re starting to figure this out, and it’s working well.” So well that ISA has been able to reduce per-head marketing costs by 30 percent.

Top Tips

What steps can you take to ensure a memorable meeting? Gregg Herning, vice president of hotel sales at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, shares some of his lessons learned:


  • Keep your dates flexible for savings.
  • Include the hotel culinary team in site inspections to talk about choices and ways to save.
  • Communicate early and often with the hotel—about your billings preferences, function space, preconference details, and after-event feedback on service and execution.


  • Wait until the last minute to secure dates.
  • Forget most hotels can offer marketing assistance—like branding and push notification—if asked.
  • Assume anything about the internet. Prepare a “needs analysis” outlining your connectivity requirements, including an analytics report from last year’s meeting.
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