Throughout the pandemic, many of our lifestyles, priorities, and ways of working have dramatically changed. In its report “The Future 100: 2022,” creative agency, consultancy, and technology company Wunderman Thompson has identified 100 trends across industries — from culture to health to travel and hospitality — that will shape the way we live and work this year and beyond. The Convene editors have each chosen three trends from Wunderman Thompson’s report and connected them to meetings and events. Up next, Senior Editor Jennifer N. Dienst takes on the new nomad economy, greenmapping, and regenerative models.
The Circular Economy
Regeneration isn’t just for farming. The idea of a circular enterprise that gives back more than it extracts is being adapted by all kinds of industries. According to Wunderman Thompson Intelligence’s 2021 report “Regeneration Rising,” 84 percent of respondents believe that businesses should drive regeneration. “Brands are acknowledging that doing less harm to the planet is no longer enough. Regenerating the world’s resources and repairing the damage accrued over centuries is now the ultimate sustainability stretch goal,” says their Future 100 Report. Some popular travel destinations are incentivizing visitors to travel more consciously, like Hawaii, whose “Malama Hawaii” program offers discounts and free hotel nights in exchange for participating in beach cleanups and reforestation projects. In 2020, IMEX and Marriott International released a report on why it makes financial, logistical, and ecological sense for the business events industry to adapt a regenerative model as well. Guy Bigwood, chief changemaker at the Global Destination Sustainability Movement (GDSM) and author of the report, told Convene to think of the model as a roadmap for the industry to “build back better.” Said Melissa Baird, GDSM’s communications changemaker, “If you look at [an event] like a full circle, in terms of a human experience — knowledge, economy, physical, connectiveness, impact — it can happen. It is so really easy to create a model that services the key clients’ ambitions but gives back to the society close to the event’s hub, or maybe transforms an aspect of the event environment that needed to be transformed.”
The New Nomad Economy
If there’s one byproduct of the pandemic with sticking power, it’s digital nomadism. The lifestyle isn’t necessarily new, but the shift to remote work during the past two years has rapidly accelerated its popularity. Wunderman Thompson’s report points out that a new economy is rising up to meet nomads’ administrative, financial, and logistical needs — like, for example, the launch of new telehealth and health-insurance options. Event organizers catering to the global workforce may have already seen new options entering their wheelhouse as well, like new online team-building activities and increased workcation offerings at hotels and resorts. A new breed of coworking/coliving spaces may hold potential for off sites — Outsite, a boutique brand of coliving spaces available for corporate retreats, has recently expanded to several new locations, and Barnfox, launched in 2020, offers a network of “community-driven work and retreat spaces” in New York City, the Hudson Valley, and the Catskills. Some companies are making these spaces their own — Salesforce has leased its own woodsy retreat for remote employees to gather and connect.
According to the International Transport Forum, CO2 emissions from transportation will increase by 16 percent by 2050 compared to levels in 2015. “Growing awareness of this impact is leading transport apps and travel companies to redesign their offerings, giving travelers more planet-first options,” said Wunderman Thompson’s report. A new feature on Google Flights comes to mind — in late 2021, Google added the carbon emission impact to search results, which they calculate by data supplied by airlines and third parties. And Google Maps now allows users to figure the most eco-conscious method of travel by ranking the carbon output. As travel returns, we can expect to see greater demand for tools like this from business travelers and convention attendees looking to shrink their impact.
Jennifer N. Dienst is senior editor at Convene.