Top Meeting Trends for 2011 (industry wrap up)

How do your 2011 predictions of meeting trends match up with the industry?

Reading through a few different web sites boasting the top meeting trends for 2011, I’ve pulled out some common findings and provided my point of view.

  1. Mobile Access – Making your web content mobile friendly for attendees should be a given going forward. This doesn’t mean you should do everything. Educational content, customized program agendas, interaction with other attendees and polls are just a few things to name. Know your audience and what they want. Maybe it’s survey time to learn more about your member needs. Check your Google analytics statistics. And, just observe your attendees at your meetings. iPhones, iPads and Android smart phones are taking over.
  2. Green Meetings – According to these sites below, green meetings are back. Green meetings was once a trendy topic in 2008 and 2009. However, it seemed to lose momentum in 2010 when budgets and focus to shifted other initiatives when dealing with the recession. Will it surface in 2011?
  3. Hybrid/Virtual Meetings – How do you reach a massive audience? Take your event and turn it virtual. Obviously, you can’t replace the value of face-to-face interaction and learning, but technology exists (hint: it has for a while). EventCamp Twin Cities really brought light to hybrid meetings and organizations are seriously embracing this style of meeting format. How you design your meeting format for this technology takes some deep thinking. You must balance budgets, access, adoption, etc. And don’t forget, build your community online well before you launch your hybrid event.
  4. Social Media for Events – For a few years, organizations were trying to determine “if” social media was to be part of the meeting strategy. In 2010 it was “how” and the prediction for 2011 is “doing it.” Social media isn’t a fad. It doesn’t replace traditional marketing and engagement, but consider it solid leg in your marketing and attendee engagement strategies. Need more on social media for events? You might dive into Engage365, our community of 1000+ strong as they discuss and share social media knowledge.

Sources for Top Meeting Trends for 2011

Save Trees. Print More!


This is absolutely the most controversial statement that we’ve made all year, but it’s the honest truth. Sure, we print conference books, so why believe us?

You know Omnipress is about being green and providing green solutions for conference materials, so why would we say something so blasphemous?

I know this sounds contradicting, but the economics behind this is true.

Printing Saves Trees

Consider this economic cycle. Most of the paper used for printing for U.S.-based associations comes from North American forests. If we print less, we place less value on paper. Less paper being needed translates into paper companies selling their forested acreage to the highest bidder, as this is the best chance for revenue. This, in turn, means they plant fewer trees, leaving the land to just sit there “idle” or be sold to developers.

Printing Increases Demand for Paper

Using paper for printing raises the demand for paper, which means the paper companies plant more trees and keep land dedicated to managed forests.

How it works: It takes 5-6 years to grow a tree that is used for paper. Consider a forested plot of land divided into 6 segments. Year 1, they log segment 1 and replant. Year 2, they log segment 2 and replant. This goes on for 6 years and we’re back to segment 1. That is sustainable forestry.

So it’s not like trees are being clear cut and nothing is replacing them (as is the case in some parts of the world where the forests get clear cut for soybeans, sugar cane and cattle farms). Most mills have sustainable forestry practices ensuring they are replanting more trees because this is their business. Trees are their crop!

Edward L. Glaeser, a professor of economics at Harvard University states in an Boston Globe article titled, “A road map for environmentalism“:

“The trees used by paper mills are a renewable resource. When people use more paper, suppliers plant more trees. If we want bigger commercial forests, then we should use more paper not less. Our policies should directly protect important wildlife habitats, not try to reduce our demand for paper.”

Can Conference Printing Save Trees?

As for conferences and meetings, printing educational materials such as proceedings books, workbooks or handouts isn’t wiping out our trees. In fact, it’s probably saving trees.

Looking at the purpose of your meeting. If the use of printed materials is going to better educate a doctor, engineer, social worker or child care provider, so be it. Figure out a way to cover the printing cost because, in the end, you’ll have happier, more educated attendees and more demand for paper–and more land for trees.

Take Our2022 Training
Trends Survey

Each year, Omnipress collects data from training professionals to benchmark educational content trends. The results will be published in our annual Training Trends Report in early April.

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