The new year is upon us—a new decade with new possibilities. Just think for a moment about all the technological improvements that emerged over the last 10 years. In 2010, social media was considered a fad, the Blackberry was still the most popular phone, and we used our desktop computer as a primary source for online information.

As we move forward, smart planners will embrace innovative ways of communicating with attendees. If you’ve been procrastinating because you’re uncomfortable with new things, make a New Year’s Resolution to try one or more of the latest technologies listed below.

Meeting Type Research

According to the 2020 Global Meetings Forecast Report by American Express Meetings & Events, here is the breakdown of the types of meetings and the percentage of time they take place in North America.

Meeting Type Percentage
Internal Meeting or Training 25%
Senior Leadership or Board Meeting 17%
Client Advisory Board 15%
Incentives 15%
Product Launch 14%
Conference or Trade Show 13%

Let’s take a closer look at each one of these.

Internal Meetings, Ongoing Training and Onboarding

If your organization is of a specific size, you probably dedicate meeting time to train existing employees on new products, procedures and policies. Similarly, acclimating new employees is a recurring activity. How can technology improve this ongoing meeting category?

Try using Virtual Reality. Why? If your company has a lot of products and services, VR can cement the training like no other method. Here are two actual case studies:

Farmers Insurance has tens of thousands of scenarios a claims person can encounter. With limited training talent and highly skilled mentors ending their careers, they were faced with a choice: either extend the training cycle for new and existing employees or find a better way. VR is their way.

Walmart reports a 10-15 percent improvement in test scores with VR as compared to traditional methods of teaching. They have also reduced training costs. VR eliminates the need for instructors and the requirement that employees gather into crowded classrooms for hours or days on end.

Leadership Board Meetings and Retreats

Whether your board is large or small, regional, or international, there are always a few key individuals who cannot make it to your meeting. Their flight was grounded. Their travel budget was cut. Or…they are just swamped at work.

Bring in those members with live streaming. With a faster, more reliable Internet and better bridging software, remote members can participate in your meeting without worries or buffering or dropping the call.

The collaborative monitor Microsoft Surface Hub 2 can connect up to ten virtual members, show presentations and allow for the use of a whiteboard—all in one unit—and more importantly, everyone sees the information at the same time.


Planning an incentives program is much like orchestrating a large VIP event where every expense is covered. Most incentive programs have an educational component as well.

How do you track everyone and everything precisely? Use RFID wristbands that must be scanned for every education session your guests go to, drink they order (even by the pool), or adventure they take. The benefit to your organization is that you have complete documentation when comparing it against the master bill. The side benefit: It will make budgeting for next year’s event a piece of cake!

Product Launch

When rolling out new products and services to the public, its vital to get real-time, honest feedback from your employees, clients and prospects.

By asking each person to take a few moments to install a smartphone polling app on their device, you will be receiving instantaneous, anonymous feedback that can determine if your product needs a few tweaks or a major overhaul.

Conference or Trade Shows

Large conventions and trade shows are manpower intensive before and during the event. Attendees ask many questions, many of which are the same.

Consider installing a chatbot on your website or event page—you’ll free up valuable staff time plus the bot never rests—it’s available 24/7!

De-de Mulligan is a regular blog contributor for As a former meeting planner who has received Ohio MPI’s Planner of the Year award twice (2006 & 2012), she brings a unique perspective.  You can find her on Twitter @DedeMulligan.