New Normal in Meetings: Action Required

What is the new normal in meetings?

Four factors, among others, are shaping and impacting 21st century meeting models: 

  1. Digital platforms & apps
  2. Economic issues: locally, nationally, globally
  3. Social responsibility: sustainability in particular
  4. Generational preferences: youth and young adults are the future of associations. Is your organization relevant to
    them? Can they get traditional association services, e.g., networking, technical information, professional development, career contacts in other ways?

The declining value proposition of attending the f2f meeting comes quickly into focus.

For many individuals, the annual conference and exhibition are more demanding than the required investment of time, travel, and
resources. With a tap of the keyboard, the association member can access professional content, compare service providers, even travel virtually (what is Google Earth ?) and yes, conduct meetings face-to-face (what are Skype, Cisco Telepresence, etc.).

The elephant in the room? Meetings have changed, continue to evolve, and will not return to the good old days.

How are associations responding? Many if not most organizations tap into the social networking tools. They have a Twitter account and establish a hashtag for upcoming events or hot topics. These associations probably have a LinkedIn account and maintain
Facebook pages. Social networking is a potent resource and provides truly just-in-time connections. Do these efforts, however, add
significant value for the association member or business partner? Who on the staff and among the volunteers regularly tend to these virtual experiences?

A tsunami of an exploding digital world fueled by rapid globalization is rushing toward associations and yet many seem to be rocking
along. Things may not be great but they’re OK. Organizations just keep on doing what they’ve always done and get what they’ve always gotten (see We Have Always Done It That Way . .) . In the 21st century, this will not be sufficient.

In fact, if associations are not very careful, this quintessential American model will go the way of newspapers, magazines, landline telephones, USPS, checks, handwritten notes, and more. Association executives, volunteer leaders, and their business partners must wake up, smell the coffee, and seize the day – create sustainable meetings for today and tomorrow.

Part II: Two Calls to Action (to be presented February 4, 2010, at Southwest Showcase 2010.