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2011 will be remembered as the year in which the meetings and events industry finally made peace with technology, with both sectors learning to coexist in a spirit of mutual respect. Or, as the 2011 MPI FutureWatch report stated:

‘Technology, it seems, has finally gone mainstream in an industry that has long pushed back against what was viewed once as a direct threat to in-­‐person events’.

Technological advances have continued to evolve in a manner that provides destination marketing organisations, venues and conference planners with innovative solutions to enable them work faster and better at all stages of the conference lifecycle. Our industry has shown itself to be eager to leverage these continuing advances in technology.

The INCON survey also confirms the increasing impact of technology on our industry, with the emphasis on the importance of technology almost quadrupling among those surveyed, compared with last year. In that survey, technology stepped up to become themost important trend of 2011, replacing ‘perception of value’ which moved into third place, and just behind green meetings, the issue that was cited as the second most important trend. In detail:

• Social Media strategies are growing in importance, especially as they can act as a digital marketing tool as well as a means of communicating with delegates. Facebook and LinkedIn were deemed to be the most frequently used with 71 percent of respondents using each platform. Twitter was recorded as the next most important choice of social media with this channel engaged by 62 percent of respondents. Blogs, Podcasts and YouTube are each employed by approximately one third of respondents with other channels including Flickr, Slideshare and Skype activated by around 12 percent of INCON partners polled.

• Regarding Mobile Applications technology for conferences, 42 percent of those surveyed confirmed that they intend to use mobile apps in the near future, with 33 percent saying they already do so.

The Grass Roots Meetings Industry Report concurs with this, noting that the meetings app is an expanding area of technology. As three examples among many:

* Apple launched their Go To Meeting app last year, allowing people to join a meeting on their iPad through a link. They can then view slide presentations, spreadsheets, reports or whatever the presenters choose to share on-­‐screen.

* Super Planner, another Apple app, provides a variety of planning tools, including calculators for venue capacity, staffing, catering, and staging.

* OotoWeb has also created an iPhone app that enables the planner to access reports such as attendee list, activity pickup and accommodation pickup while away from their computer.

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