Academics from Leeds Met have launched new research which explores the future of meetings for the events and hospitality industry.

The research is part of a three year study by The International Centre for Research in Events, Tourism and Hospitality at Leeds Met who were commissioned by Meetings Professional International (MPI), the professional community for the global meetings industry.

Among trends identified in the research, presented at Imex America in Las Vegas, is the greater focus on sustainability, as well as a need for meeting spaces to be uniquely designed to meet specific objectives.

A growth in data capture from delegates could lead to controversy over privacy issues, while social networks and even neuroscience will provide greater insights into attendee engagement.

MPI International's interim chief executive Cindy D'Aoust said: "The Future of Meetings research initiative focuses on emerging issues facing the industry and cutting-edge information impacting the community.
"This is absolutely the kind of intelligence meetings and events professionals need at their disposal in order to thrive."

The report - put together following interviews with 26 experts from fields including science, events, technology, communication and economics - covers issues facing the industry and offers insights on expected demographic shifts in the workplace, upcoming drivers of change and the impact of virtual and online connections on live events.

It examines issues including the need to ditch stereotypes, as an aging population is "connected, active, and experienced". 

Meanwhile, the challenges of the recession linger, with an ever greater need to prove return on investment (ROI).

Project leader and Principal Lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University, Jackie Mulligan explains: "Whilst the meetings industry in Europe and the US is understandably focused on the economic difficulties confronting them right now - this is endangering the industry by overshadowing the longer term opportunities. Meeting planners need to consider and learn more about economies in the developing world as well as consider new industry growth areas where businesses will need to meet and collaborate - in bio and nanotechnologies for instance. Innovation is critical".

Following the research presented at Imex America in Las Vegas, MPI Foundation will release a series of related research papers leading up to MPI's European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC 2013) in Montreux, Switzerland on 27-29 January.

A comprehensive Future of Meetings toolkit will be released by MPI Foundation next year.