Meetings Mean Business
Wednesday, June 8, 2016 3:20 PM by Jeff Heilman
The world of meetings appears to be heading towards a significant shift, as influential industry leaders explore and promote creative new ways for people to convene, socialize and do business. Led by the D.C.-based U.S. Travel Association, Meetings Means Business (www.meetingsmeanbusiness.com) is a growing global coalition of major travel, hospitality and corporate players committed to championing the business power of personal, face-to-face interaction. Global conference leader IACC (www.iacconline.org), newly rebranded from the International Association of Conference Centers, is leading an exciting new research-backed initiative called “IACC Meeting Room of the Future,” which focuses on re-imagining and reshaping meeting dynamics for “exceptional” outcomes.
Animated by the spirit of reinvention and spearheaded by leaders most qualified to influence and initiate change, these exciting examples alone point to more flexible and versatile interpretations of how and where we meet. Already gaining momentum in the industry is wider adoption of more non-traditional venues for meetings and events, along with formats and programs geared towards “experience creation” and “participation.”
I began writing about the Syracuse meetings market a decade ago. From the outset, I saw that Visit Syracuse, mirroring the industrious, ambitious, entrepreneurially minded culture of the city itself, fundamentally understood the power of meetings. Another early impression, unchanged to this day, is that the CVB leaders were more open-minded than other destinations to creative possibilities. Last year’s introduction of the new “Do Your Thing” image campaign only confirmed and strengthened this impression.
Having spent two decades in law and business before becoming a fully independent journalist, I have long memories of meeting environments and formats that stifle creativity and productivity while promoting disinterest and even distemper. While “Do Your Thing” should not mean complete abandonment of traditional structures, the freer collar that it implies can only encourage people to think, act and contribute in more expansive and productive ways. Syracuse “gets” this and has done for some time--which puts the city right on trend in the evolving meetings industry, and positioned to lead the way.