What 2017 Reading Trends Could Mean for 2018 Meetings

Here's a look at what data from a year’s worth of blog posts reveals about what meeting planners are interested in today—and what that may mean for the future.

It’s the end of the year, which means it’s the perfect time to go back and reflect on your personal and professional highs and lows.

As part of my own process, this week I was given a list of my best-performing blog posts of 2017 by our analytics team here at Associations Now. Looking through it, I couldn’t help but notice some trends that I think point to some areas that association meeting teams are either interested in or looking to improve. Here are some of the highlights:

What happens once a meeting is over? My two most-read posts focused on postconference happenings. The first was about the always-popular postconference survey and whether associations were getting the information they needed from attendees. In it, I offered up three questions I thought organizations should be asking attendees after a conference wraps up:

  • What’s the idea you heard that you were most excited to take back to the office?
  • What could we have done to make your conference experience better?
  • How many meaningful conversations did you have?

The second explored how to harness your attendees’ postconference energy to extend the life of your events.

“It’s not just a two-day effort, or a three-day effort, or however long your conference or event is,” said Reggie Aggarwal, CEO of Cvent. “It’s a yearlong effort. How do you engage your participants and your audience all year long? You need to think beyond the actual event.”

The post pointed out a few of the ways associations were doing this. Among them: postconference webinar series, wrap-up videos, and pairing up attendees after a meeting to continue their onsite conversations.

How do we accommodate attendees of all ages? The blog metrics also showed that readers are thinking a lot about engaging attendees of all ages. Sure, associations put a lot of thought and effort into getting millennials—and increasingly Gen Zers—registered and involved. But do you know who else they need to keep an eye on? Older professionals who are working longer.

In an October blog post, I made the case that these individuals will want to continue to pursue professional development opportunities—and some accommodations and considerations may have to be made for them to do so comfortably.

This post, compared to another top performer about how to get young pros involved in your meeting planning efforts, show that planners continue to struggle with balancing the needs of various attendee segments.

What environments are most conducive to learning? A third trend I saw among my most-read posts was that people are interested in creating meeting spaces and developing learning experiences that cater to specific goals, as well as attendee needs.

In a March post, I highlighted an article showing that the seating and structure of a nation’s legislature reveal a lot about how decisions are made in that country and argued that “meeting culture is shaped and expressed through architecture.” For example, circular seating may be the best fit for an event where an association is trying to build consensus, while the “opposing benches” setup is perfect for a debate-style session.

Couple this with a post from May about personalizing learning experiences that drew a fair amount of readers, and you’ll see that onsite experience and atmosphere continues to be a priority for planners.

Besides these three trends, what else is top of mind for you when it comes to your meetings in 2018? Please share in the comments.

(Vertigo3d/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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