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by Matt Alderton | December 18, 2014
Meetings next year will be all about having fun, getting healthy, and thinking differently, according to the IMEX Group, which this week released its predictions for four key trends driving meetings in 2015:

Trend 1: Gamification

"2014 was the year that 'play' as a tool for unlocking creativity and new sources of competitive advantage returned to business. In truth it had never left but the current manifestation of 'play' has a distinctly 21st century flavor," IMEX explains. "According to IMEX guest speaker, creativity guru Rhea Blanken, Einstein reputedly said: 'Play is the highest form of research.' Gartner has been predicting for the last few years that in 2015 up to 40 percent of Global 1,000 organizations will use gamification as their primary mechanism for transforming business operations, citing Nike, Quirky, and My Fitness Pal as leaders in this space. IMEX America Keynote Steve Gross also advocated that, 'When people get together through meetings and events it is critical to deliver playfulness which helps them engage, connect and explore, to enjoy being there … in the now.'"

Trend 2: Apps

"Apps continue to be 'sexy' (in advertising parlance) and their strength and novelty will be unbounded in 2015," IMEX predicts. "But this is not apps for apps' sake, as paper swaps or standalones. Rather meeting and event apps will be seamlessly linking across other media platforms, and especially websites, in line with customer/community market needs and pain points, deeply connected to real-time analytics and incorporating interactions such as live messaging, polling, and other instant engagement and feedback mechanics."

Trend 3: New Formats

"In 2015 expect to see meeting spaces and formats going through even more of a revolution as the principles of meeting design become more firmly embedded throughout the supply chain," IMEX forecasts. "Witness David Silverman of the Harvard Business Review suggesting 50-minute meetings so people have the chance to take a breath in between and actually be on time for today's inexorable back-to-back work commitments.  Contrast that with Arianna Huffington (of Huffington Post fame) who likes to hold walking meetings -- supporting research from Washington University that workers are more engaged, less territorial and more collaborative when they're working on a project while standing upright."

Trend 4: Wellness

"Beyond drinking water, eating protein-laden nuts, and taking a quick, rejuvenating massage, there is a higher level of spiritual awareness starting to make its way into meeting keynotes, sessions, and formats," IMEX observes. "When both Time Magazine and Forbes give space to a topic then it has surely 'arrived.' In this case it's mindfulness that's earning the 'ink.' Also, with leading proponents such as Deepak Chopra (MPI's WEC keynote this summer) reaching global rock star status, and CEOs such as Oprah Winfrey, Russell Simmons (Def Jam), Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com, and Rick Goings of Tupperware endorsing the business and spiritual benefits of meditation, the meetings industry and meeting planners have a great opportunity -- and importantly, the permission -- to shift this new slant on wellness out of the spa and into the spotlight."