Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

December 15 2014

Three Truths That TED Will Test In 2015

By David McMillin

In just over three months, some of the world’s most forward-thinking inventors, designers and explorers will convene in Vancouver for a round of Truth and Dare – and we don’t mean a variation of the party game. “Truth and Dare” is the theme of TED2015, during which a cast of well-respected names will challenge commonly accepted beliefs and share daring visions of our world’s future.

You’ve probably watched one of the 1,900+ TED talks available free online, and the upcoming conference is sure to produce some of the most compelling material yet. As the world waits to hear fresh perspectives and groundbreaking insights from Vancouver in March, here’s a preview of three “truths” TED2015 will test and what the results will mean for the meetings industry.

1) Privacy matters more than transparency.

When meeting professionals discuss the future of face-to-face, most conversations include two words: big data. Big data can mean big opportunities to understand attendee behaviors and predict their preferences, but it also broaches a few scary questions. Is it considered an invasion of privacy to monitor attendees’ on-site activities? Will they trust your conference if it starts to look too much like Big Brother? Are you doing enough to safeguard their information?

While attendees do care about keeping their information confidential, many are willing to share plenty with conference organizers — if organizers are honest about their intentions.

“There has to be social responsibility with your data,” Donny Neufuss, Senior Account Manager, Mediasite Event Services, Sonic Foundry, says. “Be transparent.”

2) Technology is no fun anymore.

Mobile apps, social media, gamification, hybrid meetings — the list of event technologies can seem overwhelming to meeting planners. But we shouldn’t look at technology as merely adding more to our to-do lists. It’s also a key method of increasing attendee engagement, better measuring a program’s success and extending the life of a meeting. And yes, you can even have a good time during the process.

Tech has been a hot topic in recent years, but the reality is that the meetings industry is just beginning to unlock the potential of game-changing tools. From the ability to let attendees break up with hotel room keys to augmented reality and Apple’s iBeacons on trade show floors, a wave of emerging technologies will help attendees have more fun and meetings feel more productive.

3) We’ve left it too late to prevent a climate crisis.

It’s no secret that there are serious problems facing the planet. Despite troubling statistics from scientists studying global warming, there is still an opportunity to reverse the course of climate change –and the meetings industry plays a crucial role in ending the crisis.

Look no further than the TED Conference’s host site, the LEED Platinum-certified Vancouver Convention Centre, to see how the convention business can create a positive impact on the environment. From a sustainability program that recycles nearly half the total volume of waste generated at the centre to a six-acre roof that features more than 400,000 indigenous plants and grasses, the convention centre represents Vancouver’s  strong steps toward the bold goal of becoming the greenest city in the world by 2020.

“In Vancouver, green meetings aren’t an add-on and innovation isn’t the exception,” Dave Gazley, Vice President, Meeting and Convention Sales, Tourism Vancouver, says. “They’re the norm. Part of the reason why TED chose Vancouver is because the technology, creative design and inspired ideas that the conference elicits and celebrates are what planners and delegates have come to expect from each and every meeting in Vancouver.”

Elsewhere in the meetings industry, other major players are going greener, too. From IHG’s Green Engage environmental platform to the Convention Industry Council’s APEX/ASTM standards to help planners measure the sustainability of a meeting, it’s clear that meetings can bring attendees together and bring good news for the Earth.

Have a favorite TED talk that inspired you to think differently about your role in meetings? Click here to share the inspiration with your colleagues on Catalyst.

This educational article was brought to you by the Vancouver Convention Centre and Tourism Vancouver, two organizations working together to shine the spotlight on new ideas at TED2015. This will be the second consecutive year TED holds its annual conference in Vancouver.

“Vancouver happens to be home to TED’s conference operations team, and going there is always an inspiration it’s cosmopolitan, energetic, innovative, yet with unrivaled natural beauty. Having Whistler just up the road is an ideal combination.

Chris Anderson, TED Curator

For more information on taking your next meeting to Vancouver, Canada, visit the official Tourism Vancouver website here.

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