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Association viewISSUE 67 / ConfErEnCE & MEEtIngS World / 71industry can continue to prosper at the expense of others. Fundamental changes are required, potentially including the whole distribution of risk and reward among all players.But one very positive area for re-examination - which is also something common to all the factors noted above - is the need for a better job of recognising, measuring and promoting our value to the overall economy and adjusting the financial picture accordingly. Governments are more likely to keep investing if they see meetings as contributors to their most urgent priorities - like economic recovery and innovation, employment and economic transition. Similarly, delegates and their sponsors are more likely to make participation a priority if they can more clearly see just what they will get out of their attendance. While the financial challenges we face have the potential to turn various sectors against each other in their striving to achieve a bigger slice at others' expense, the more effective choice is to co-operate more than ever on building the value proposition. That way, everyone can win - and we will be better equipped to face whatever kind of future the ongoing global uncertainties may deliver. Edgar Hirt is the President of the International Association of Congress Centres (AIPC); and MD of CCH, Congress Center Hamburg. AIPC represents a network of 170 leading centres in 54 countries.Facing the futuregovErnMEntS arE MorE lIkEly to kEEp InvEStIng If thEy SEE MEEtIngS aS ContrIbUtorS to thEIr MoSt UrgEnt prIorItIES, lIkE EConoMIC rECovEry and InnovatIon, SayS Edgar hIrthe eventual passage of the current financial crisis is going to leave a changed meetings industry in its wake, and one area that will likely feel a great deal of impact will be the financial equation. The results, while not entirely predictable at this point, will be of considerable interest to both convention centres and their clients as primary players whose decisions and circumstances will ultimately impact a lot of other industry suppliers and participants as well.Nobody really knows how all this will play out. But there are already some key factors that can at least narrow the range of possibilities. They include: Most governments are now financially strapped and likely to be living with the hangover resulting from lower revenues, stimulus funding and increasing service expectations for some time. This means they are going to be less inclined to make investments in anything they don't see as an urgent priority (which may or may not include convention facilities) and, at the same time, less likely to support attendance by government officials at professional and/or business events. Overall event attendance (and the revenues that accompany this) will probably be increasingly challenged. First, because fewer employers, government or otherwise, are likely to be very interested in supporting meetings participation unless they can see immediate benefits to their most pressing issues, mainly around managing financial challenges. Secondly, because there is a residual concern around the perceived sustainability of meetings-related travel, which alone might not be enough to tip the balance but, when combined with factor number one, could become a formidable impact. Finally, there are plausible alternatives available including better virtual technologies that offer a more feasible option than anything available in the past. Next, while association events have been the ongoing strength of the industry during recent troubled times, even their finances will eventually start to show the strain. The trade shows that often accompany them are facing more targeted online promotional opportunities, new restrictions such as those now facing the pharmaceutical industry and, in some cases, a reduction in exhibitors due to structural issues like industry consolidations. Finally, there are fundamental changes taking place in client/supplier relationships and the overall financial equation as a result of downsizing, outsourcing and the retaining of intermediaries. It is a situation that creates stresses.Any one of these issues could present a real challenge to the survival of the industry as we know it, but, taken together, they suggest that a major transition may be on the cards. While the existing formula can be stretched for a while, it's not realistic to think a few members of the Edgar hirtIt is not realistic to think a few members of the industry can prosper at the expense of othersedgar hirtT

Have your say72 / ConferenCe & Meetings World / issUe 67Dear Editor,We facilitate hundreds of meetings, conferences and events over the course of a year. Our business is growing despite the recession. I don't say this to boast, but to highlight that there are huge opportunities for venues; over 90 per cent of the work we do takes place in hotels.If a hotel is struggling they should look to the service they are offering prospective and existing clients. Fixed hotel 'packages', forever increasing health and safety reasons why space cannot be used for a specific purpose and general inflexibility are three reasons why we walk away from venue space. Sadly, the people who manage the events on a day to day basis often have their hands 'tied' by management who are focussed on a rigid tick-box approach to selling venue space.I am amazed at how many venues still fail to get the basics right. When you pre-order teas and coffees at 10.30am and they don't arrive it can take the focus away from the business of the meeting and disrupt the flow of the day.We work with venues who are genuinely interested in the type of event we are organising and the results we need to achieve. I have learnt that no matter how stunning or prestigious the venue, ultimately, if the service is outstanding and you can build a good rapport with the venue then pretty much any four walls will do.Katherine Woods, Founder of Meeting MagicLetters@ready2spark: #eventprofs, please join me in congratulating @JeffHurt (CMW blogger - Ed) for being named #PCMA Educator of the Year. Well deserved! @mexiaPR: #Venue #PRtips - invest in great photography for media use - quality images of venue and events held help your PR @ManhattanMan76: Social media, location-based app Foursquare will bring 250,000 restaurant menus to your phone, making it easier for #eventprofs and attendees on the road @Irishcosgrove: Early bird pricing has always motivated my purchase timing @midgedobbs: Is this an effort redemption? Pres Obama's new National Travel and Tourism Strategy @MassConvention: First paperless board meeting: check! We're getting greener every day. #greenmeetings @MidwestMeetings: Using Facebook to decide a meeting destination? That's happening right now @MPIToronto: #Eventprofs ~ personal vs. business use on social media. How do we use each?@Eventsforce: Does your event website have a global audience? If so, are your websites multilingual?@Swantegy: Even the most dedicated #event planners need to refresh their approach sometimes!@KMacInnovation: Event marketing investments to outpace economic growth in 2012Top TweetsFor all the latest breaking news, daily updates, visit:www.c-mw.nethave your say. send your letters For publiCation to: vcarley@mashmedia.netIf the service is outstanding.any four walls will doDear Editor,Well, actually the time for hybrid events has probably been much earlier, as the necessary technology has been around, but what about the skills of people to produce a successful hybrid event? A video camera in a conference room and an invite to an audience to view what's happening is not a hybrid event. Engaging both the remote and face to face audiences as one is crucial to the success of a hybrid event.In a similar way to social media being accepted as more than a passing fad, I see event professionals in all sectors, whether as venue suppliers, event suppliers or planners, will need to understand the impact and opportunity that is provided via extending the reach of an audience through hybrid events.If you are an event professional, are you going to wait until hybrid events are accepted as being 'the norm' or are you going to put yourself ahead of your competition by seeking out the new skills/processes that are required in running a truly successful hybrid event? Not all events have to be hybrid and that is something that will come as a relief to some event professionals, but for those that want to develop their skills and become even more valuable to their clients then the opportunity and challenge of hybrid events is calling you. Hybrid events are here to stay and they already have an impact on the events landscape and that is set to become only stronger given the key issues facing all sorts of organisations on the need for keep costs as low as possible, maximising return on investment and of course not developing a carbon footprint the size of the Sahara. Paul Cook, MD of Planet Planit and Meeting Professionals International UK President 2007/08The time for hybrid is now, get ahead of the norm