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10 Trends in Association Meetings and How To Use Them

What do your members want
this is the question at hand
The solution will bring forth
recruit, renewal and demand.

This month, the Sales and Marketing VP for the Vancouver Convention Centre presented on the newest developments in association expos and tradeshows at the ASAE Business of Meetings Certificate Program that took place in Washington. This list is a good guide to show you what is trending – giving you added insight to help plan your event communication strategies for the coming year.  I’ve added four more interesting association meeting trends, based on other industry research.

10 Trends in Association Meetings and How To Use Them

1. Hosted Buyers Programs are Growing. Are you familiar with the IMEX example? If not, Google it. The association meeting planner becomes the buyer – where you take the lead for your exhibitors.

2. Increase in Scheduled Appointments. Planning will save, both you and your members, time and makes it easy for your exhibitors.

3. Create New Ways for the Sponsor to Connect. The meetings industry associations are the trendsetters.  Meeting Professionals International (MPI) gains insight from their exhibitors where they are testing and turning booths into standardized, appointment spaces. This minimizing shipping costs. MPI has not entirely shifted to this for their larger shows, but its tradeshow floor is becoming more varied and interactive. This goes beyond integrating food into booths or sponsored relaxation and shoeshine areas.

4. Integrate Education. Associations are offering different ways to transfer education. Examples include: the rise of sponsored poster board areas, sponsored lunch and learns, 45-minute sponsored session on technology or content. These would all be approved by the association’s education department.

5. Integrate Public Exposure. Several association shows are welcoming public attendance. The American Academy for Advancement of Science and Sports Medicine Conference recently tested this with positive results. This is proving to enliven the show for the professional conference participants as well as exhibitors. This also may fulfill the association’s advocacy role.

6. Use of Technology, particularly, of course, mobile show apps. There is a lot of potential for associations to leverage technology into their programs.

A Few More Association Industry Trends:

7. Shortening Programs. Associations are re-evaluating the time investment for its members. Multiple day programs are being reduced by one night. Associations are seeing lower pick-up on room blocks so this strategy helps minimize any attrition fees that they may be charged.

8. Event Attendance is Dropping Up To 20%. What worked before may not work now. Associations need to develop new incentives for its members to attend in-person. Associations need to re-evaluate the content to ensure it is still relevant to its audience and research event timing. Consider whether any other emerging industry events or other issues conflict with your event date or venue.

9. Provide More Value. Members want more value from the events they attend. Beyond the social and educational purposes, associations are developing new incentives that support the idea of ‘communities of practice’. Member-to-member support is becoming increasingly more important (opportunity to learn more from each other, and rely upon each other for other support).

10. Less Profit. It is becoming more challenging to generate profit at conferences. To stay competitive, associations are starting to address areas such as: more closely monitoring overhead costs, reassessing education content offered and networking opportunities, generational challenges, and reduced attendee and sponsor participation.

As you know, face-to-face meetings are more effective, productive and help strengthen the value an association can offer its members. Learning the changing ways your members value your association events can give you the insight to plan well-timed, effective communications strategies.

Infuse Five focuses on helping associations and businesses, across North America and globally, inject smart marketing into their programs without the need to hire a full time communications specialist. Learn more about how Infuse Five can help grow your business with more smart marketing tips, subscribe to our e-newsletter.



Marketing strategist and founder of Infuse Five Infuse Five, based in Ottawa, Canada, helps businesses and associations, across North America, grow. Focus is on innovative marketing and communications strategies. Ottawa marketing customized to fit your specific business needs.

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