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5 Seminar Industry Trends to Watch for in 2011

Magic 8 BallWell, it's that time of year – closing out the last year and

looking forward to the next. Of course, it's been an amazing ride for us here at Propel Point – we've supported dozens of successful seminar clients over the course of the year, and created new opportunities for thousands of end customers to learn more about real estate, financial investing, internet technology, and many other topics of interest. So what's on the

horizon for 2011? Here are 5 trends to watch for in 2011:

  1. Dilbert iPhone JokeSmartphone-toting Customers: Okay, this may be a little outdated, but I think the groundswell is finally strong enough to say, unequivocally, that smartphones (namely iPhones and Androids) are in your customers' hands. What does this mean to the average seminar speaker? Well, a couple things. For one, it means that your customer will begin to expect to see more and more information from you through their hand-held device. This includes apps, tweets, texts, and any other way to reach out to them. Not only does this include clients, but it also represents a powerful new way to capture new leads and prospects – be thinking about how to tap in to this iDevice world. Additionally, it means that during your seminar, your customers are going to be ever more knowledgeable. If anything you say during your presentation sounds suspect or outrageous – expect your customers to be verifying your claims while you're speaking. The phrase your customers will keep in their minds at virtually all times will be: “Trust, but verify.” So act accordingly.
  2. Economy JokeImproving economic attitudes in 2011: Sure, this one's up for serious debate, but the fact is “bleak” won't cut it everywhere in the coming year. There will still be areas of serious hardship and difficult economic times, but unlike the past 2-3 years, the forecast might be a little sunnier in the places that you travel. This will mean that smart seminar industry professionals will keep an eye on the trends in the cities that they travel to. A great resource to glance at if you're working outside of your known area is the Bureau of Labor Statistics' “local area unemployment” page (check out the quick chart on the right side to see how bad things are in the state you're traveling to). The fact is, some parts of the country will probably dip below 8% in the coming year, while others will likely surge past 12-15… That makes a huge difference in the attitudes of the rooms you'll be speaking to.
  3. Kardashian Kard - Credit Mess!A Total Different Relationship with Credit: This economic downturn has shown that many Americans are tired of being bogged down by the weight of credit card debt – and it will probably be a while before those attitudes shift and people take out new credit. Even though things may be looking to pick back up on the economic front, expect customers to be reluctant to utilize credit unless they are absolutely compelled to do so. With this in mind, it's probably best to tighten down your payment plan options, as well as look for ways to shift from an all-at-once pricing model to more recurring and residual revenue streams.
  4. FoursquareSocial is here to stay: One thing that I've noticed hasn't been quick to take up space in the industry yet is the adoption of social and “crowd-social” technologies, like twitter #hashtags, foursquare checkins, and the like. I think this is a huge trend that savvy seminar marketers and event hosts will be wise to tap in to. For instance: When your customers walk in to your seminar, provide them with a sign that says “The twitter tag for this event is: #myeventname”. Not in the tweeting zone yet, or unsure of what these things are? Check out Tweeting101 for some info.
  5. Travel Motivational PosterTravel May get a Lot More Expensive: Seminars are a great way for people to learn hands on and face-to-face. But the downside to all that “connecting” is that the cost to travel has outpaced economic growth dramatically this past year, and will likely do the same again next year. What this means is that not only will your smartphone-toting, socially networked, credit card lacking, slightly better-employed customer be less likely to jump on the plane to even get to you, he or she will also be more demanding of the value you deliver when they arrive. Though we as seminar industry professionals are used to the costs associated with rampant travel, your customers may not be – and that flight to Vegas that used to be $59 may have leaped up quite a ways. Tack on all the fees associated and you may want to be conscious of where you host your seminar in terms of travel convenience and pricing. Your customers will appreciate any help you can provide when demonstrating that coming to your seminar is valuable and worth the travel headaches and costs.

So, there are 5 trends to keep an eye on for the coming year. Obviously, these are just a few of the ideas whirling around my head, but the simple fact is, your customers will continue to demand more out of your services and solutions. The successful seminar hosts and speakers in the coming year will be those individuals who provide truly awesome value, a great (and fun!) experience, and connect with the customer in a significant way

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