Convention 2020 is a ‘strategic foresight’ study which has been launched with seed funding from the founder sponsors – the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), IMEX (the international exhibition for the worldwide meetings, events and incentive travel industry) and Fast Future Research. The study is designed to help all members of the meetings industry prepare for the decade ahead and ensure they stay competitive.

This page sets out the project plan associated with the study (please see after the newsletter sign-up).

For further information please contact Rohit Talwar, sign-up for the Convention2020 newsletter below or see the website.




The challenges created by the economic downturn have highlighted the importance of thinking ahead and preparing for an uncertain future. We know the industry faces many challenges arising from changing political attitudes to the meetings sector, technological change, economic power shifts, environmental pressures and evolving social attitudes. In the face of such pressures, it is important to stand back and use a range of futures research techniques to take a genuinely forward looking view on how the industry might evolve and the implications for players across the industry value chain.


Objectives – Why Study the Industry’s Future?

The ultimate aim of the study is to develop rich insights into how the industry’s future may play out in order to make better decisions today. This means exploring different scenarios for how live meetings might evolve, considering a range of models of what events could look like and examining the strategic implications for venues and destinations.

The intention is to create a ‘living and growing’ online body of knowledge, case studies and ideas which will continue to expand and develop after the study completes in October 2010. A key goal is to use a highly participative ‘open’ research process to educate and inspire participants. Key questions to be explored in the study include:

  • Design – how is the thinking developing on what constitutes an effective meeting design and how could live meetings evolve by 2020?
  • Participant Experience – What will attendees and exhibitors want – learning, experience, content, style, ROI, technology and pricing?
  • Technology – How will the role of techonlogy evolve in the preparation, delivery and follow up to events – who might provide and fund these technology solutions?
  • Event Owners – What will these needs mean for event owners and managers in terms of the design, marketing and business models for their meetings?
  • Venues – What are the implications for venues in terms of strategy, venue design, services, technology, marketing, business models and financing?
  • Destinations – What are the implications for how destinations promote themselvers and influence the capabilities of local venues?
  • Industry Suppliers – how are the needs of the events indistry likely to evolve, what are the emerging opportunities, where will suppliers need to rethink their services, strategies and business models?


Approach and Outputs

The study will be conducted in two phases which are summarised below:

  • Phase 1 – ‘The Meetings Experience’ – to be completed in May 2010
  • Phase 2 – ‘Tomorrow’s Convention Centre’ – to be completed in October 2010

Outputs Phase 1 – The Meetings Experience

  • A report on a Global Survey on the Future of the Meetings Experience to be delivered in January 2010. The survey is already underway at
  • An online ‘trend wiki’, blog and discussion forum on LinkedIn (and other social networks) – collecting views from around the world on the future of meetings – these will stay live throughout both phases of the project
  • A regular Conventions 2020 newsletter – this will stay live throughout both phases
  • A report published at IMEX in May 2010, which will contain the following:
    • Analysis of global trends and the implications for the meetings sector
    • Key meetings industry trends, issues and challenges
    • A ‘Technology Timeline to 2020’ for meetings, exhibitions and events
    • Scenarios and models for the design of future meetings, exhibitions and events
    • Implications, challenges and opportunities for venues and destinations
    • Recommendations for event owners, planners and industry suppliers.

Outputs Phase 2 – Tomorrow’s Convention Centre

  • A Final Report published at ICCA’s Annual Congress in Hyderabad in October 2010, which will contain the following:
    • Structured expert interviews on how the industry can respond to the challenges, risks and opportunities
    • Results of a global survey to test responses to the expert ideas
    • Case studies on how venues are preparing for the future
    • New models and approaches for venue strategies, business models, building design, services and facilities
    • Recommendations for venue owners and managers
    • Recommendations for destinations.


The outputs from phases one and two above will feed the educational content at both IMEX in May 2010 and the ICCA Congress at Hyderabad in October 2010.


Dissemination of Outputs

There will be a regular programme of press releases – initially announcing the launch of the project and then providing regular updates on findings. ICCA, IMEX and Fast Future press releases generally generate high levels of global press coverage.

The three project reports will be circulated for free electronically to ICCA’s membership, to the IMEX database and to Fast Future’s own global database of 20,000 and through various partner and sponsor networks. Reports will also downloadable from the website.

A number of presentations will be delivered on the report findings at key industry events around the world. Discussions are currently underway with a number of media partners who would further increase the global distribution of the study findings.


A number of industry experts have already agreed to provide inputs to the report including Corbin Ball (technology), Martin Vanneste (meetings architecture), Jon Bradshaw (learning and the meeting mindset), Elling Hamso (business models and ROI) and Paul Kennedy (meeting strategy). Other experts are being invited to participate and help ensure every aspect of the industry value chain has been considered.


Participative Design

Convention 2020 is a highly participative study with a wide range of opportunities for interested parties to get involved. These include:

  • Providing ideas on the design of the study and questions to be explored
  • Taking part in the two planned surveys
  • Taking part in workshops that we’ll be running in key locations around the world
  • Contributing to the ‘trend wiki’, blog and social media discussions
  • Becoming an expert contributor
  • Submitting articles and case studies
  • Joining the open sessions at IMEX
  • Following progress on the study website
  • Creating local dialogues at ICCA Chapters, colleges and other forums and adding the outputs to the website
  • Writing essays, creating videos and producing other materials that help stimulate thinking about the future of meetings, venues and destinations.