Things change. New technologies emerge, people are constantly connected and bombarded and pretty soon they get overloaded with information. It gets harder and harder to cut through the noise and reach people with the stuff you know they want and need but don’t yet know about. Disruption seems to be the only thing you can rely on. We could really be talking about almost any industry here, but it seems particularly true of the meeting and events business these days.
Writing for the website Skift earlier this year, Greg Oates offered three key trends that will disrupt the meetings and events industry in 2017. The article was also published in EXPLORER, the magazine of the British Columbia Chapter of Meeting Professionals International. This summary is indebted to Oates’ excellent insights as well as to those of other experts in the industry.
1. Convergence is the new innovation
Oates quotes Julius Solaris, founder of Event Manager Blog as saying that if you’re not up to speed with the latest event technology as a meeting planner, you’ll be out of business soon. The management of events has moved on from the technology we use to organize them. It’s just something that’s expected as standard.
Oates says that there’s now a “growing excitement around pairing together event speakers, experiences, and content” that may have previously seemed unrelated. He goes on to describe events that have combined retail experiences with street art depicting gang life and tables filled with handmade tea cozies, while at the same event speakers discuss topics ranging from the future of 3D printing in “DIY maker culture” to the future of the 3D web.
2. The festivalization of meetings
As evidence of this trend, Oates cites the opinion of BizBash founder David Adler, who said: “All experiences are morphing together into the festivalization of events. Concerts add conferences, meetings add new styles of collaboration, trade shows add consumer elements. Training conferences are like going to Lollapalooza. In a competition for our attention, event organizers are engaging all the senses.”
3. Business events are being used as brand marketing platforms
Brand marketing is bulging at the seams with jargon, but Oates cuts through this with the basic message that event managers are increasingly using events as part of their organization’s overall marketing strategy. Chief marketing officers (CMOs) are getting more and more involved. To expand on this trend, Oates gets the views of Chris Cavanaugh, CMO of Freeman, the event marketing company. Cavanaugh believes that brands are more consciously developing their conferences as “flash points” that amplify brand messaging in alignment with online channels.
“It really is about this idea of convergence, because everything is more interdisciplinary and everything needs to plug and play together,” said Cavanaugh. “We’re at an inflection point in our business…where brand experiences and face-to-face marketing are becoming more essential in a scattered media landscape.”
So, there you have it. If you’re an event planner who hasn’t been impacted by any of the above this year, I’d be very surprised. For the rest of us, it’s an exciting time and I’d love to hear from you about your experiences.