Event organizers always listen to what their attendees have to say about which sessions they loved, which speakers shouldn’t be invited back, and what motivates them to register and participate. Those insights are key to the short-term success of a program, but today’s generation of working professionals may not be the best group to consider when crafting your long-term strategic-engagement plan. It’s the generation that’s coming up behind them.
“Having a 15-year-old daughter, I think I might know quite well what future meeting attendees will expect from an event,” Beatrix Seewaldt, CMP, DES, project manager at German Association for Tax Advisers, told PCMA. “There is nowhere we can hide and proceed with what we have always done. They will turn away.”
After paying attention to her daughter’s love for digital media, Seewaldt decided to pursue her Digital Event Strategist certification. Thanks to a scholarship from Meetings + Conventions Calgary, Seewaldt earned her DES in 2017. Seewaldt said that the modules gave a clear breakdown of current tools, processes, and measurements, and after completing the course, she believes that digital delivers big opportunities for organizations in three main areas: customer retention, data collection for optimizing offers, and opening the event to new customer groups.
While Seewaldt recognizes the opportunities, it will take some time for them to come to life at the annual conference she oversees. With 1,600 attendees, 70 exhibitors, and 24 parallel sessions over two days, she said the experience brings together the “who’s who of the German tax industry.” Changes to that elite group’s approach to learning and networking will not come easily. “Live streaming from the conference is not planned or demanded,” Seewaldt said. “My employers want to change the event to attract younger attendees. Small changes have been implemented in the last three years, but things move slowly in the German association world. It might take another three to five years until a session is live-streamed from this event.”
Still, Seewaldt sees her investment in digital education as a tool that will pay dividends throughout her career. “Even if my current job does not require the skills I acquired during the DES course,” Seewaldt said, “I am convinced that my next job will.”
In the meantime, her digital-savvy approach to life has put her on a level playing field at home.