The "Science" Of Spotting Industry Trends
by Jim Alkon
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Jim Alkon our newest MPI Contributor Discusses Industry Trends

What are the top five trends affecting the meetings industry in the year ahead? Attending the MPI Greater New York Chapter’s recent inaugural education event, I expected to get the perspective from speaker Shawna Suckow, founder of SPIN (Senior Planner Industry Network). That’s not exactly what happened. Here’s what did:

Shawna introduced a creative way by which we, the audience, were going to arrive at the top trends (that is, of course, if you accept our demographics, degree of experience, and random insight and intelligence). She had each attendee (about 75 or so) write on an index card what he or she believed was the industry’s top trend. Then she asked us to stand up, circulate the room, and exchange the cards with as many people as possible within about 30 seconds (think “live shuffling of the deck”). She then broke us into groups of five and asked each group to discuss and decide which of the five cards they were holding was the most relevant trend.
That got us down to 15 people each holding a card. She then repeated the live shuffling and broke the survivors into five groups of three. The groups each picked the most relevant trend among the choices and were left with the five top topics.
Isn’t that the way the experts do it? I was skeptical of the process, and even more skeptical of the results. But it turned out to be a fun exercise and an innovative way to address the subject, whether you agreed with the outcome or not.
(Oh, hybrid meetings, electronic interaction between delegates, different ways of doing presentations, marketing using social media, and green events.)

Food for Deep Thought

Catering operations tend to show off their best stuff when hosting groups of meeting planners. I'm sure planners wouldn't dispute that for most events they attend, there is ample opportunity to eat -- some would say ample obligation to gorge (but that's for another blog).
Now I'm not one to get worked up over event cuisine, and I can pretty much promise you'll never see the word "Foodie" appear in this vehicle again, but I must tip my knife and fork to the Hyatt Regency in Richardson, Texas, which just hosted MPI's Chapter Business Summit. While all edibles from the event were simply superb, I am compelled to cite the potato pancakes with a slice of nova, offered on the final day's breakfast buffet, gamely competing with an egg taco, fried egg sandwich, something resembling an Egg McMuffin with class, and a bunch of other less heart-threatening pleasures.
Ok, so I excused myself from my roundtable discussion a couple of times to go back for more (I woofed them down right at the buffet station - like I was stealing them). It gave new meaning to the word shame. But they were fabulous - and if given the chance, I would do it again. I even googled "Potato Pancakes With Nova" when I got home (16.4 million results, not all dead on though). They were so good. I even considered naming this blog "Potato Pancakes with Nova"). But I need to move on. Or do I?

Note, the above piece is syndicated content. The original blog post: The "Science" of Spotting Industry Trends (and much much more!) can be found on Jim's blog.

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