What does the future of the events industry look like? The PCMA Foundation and Marriott International partnered to provide a glimpse. “The Future of Meetings and Events” report, released this month, provides an update to a 2015 trends study, and identifies five major forces that will shape our industry going forward. We’ll provide a more in-depth look at its insights in our February issue. Meanwhile, here’s a preview.
Consumers across industries want to feel understood and partake in experiences that are tailored to their individual needs. Artificial intelligence and technologies such as predictive analytics will need to work together — along with the human touch — to provide event participants with personalized experiences.
With our lives more programmed than ever before, we relish the moments that surprise us. Event organizers should embrace and even engineer serendipity, providing more breaks in the program to create meaningful moments, content, and interactions that participants will value and remember. “At WeWork, we actually make the hallways too narrow so that you bump into people,” Cory Clarke, vice president of product development for WeWork, said in the report.
“We intentionally don’t have a way-finding mechanism so you have to ask someone where something is — there are certain things that the space can do to foster interaction.”
The environment is an important element of the participant experience. Spaces should be designed to be flexible, adapting to the ways that people engage with each other and the content of the session itself. “I think going forward, events spaces are going to curated frequently, maybe with 3D printing,” said Dilip Rao, CEO of food delivery company Sharebite, which has a social impact mission. “You could create a space quickly, then throw it out to create a new environment for an event.”
Bigger Than Oneself
Speaking of which, it’s not enough to simply provide content anymore. Every event must have a message. Participants want to know where organizations that host events stand on issues to see them execute on that message down to the smallest detail. “The devil is in the details,” Amy Blackman, senior advisor for brand-strategy consultancy A Hundred Years, said in the report. “I see these organizations that put on events about sustainability, but they don’t give you a refillable water bottle and have disposable plastic all over the place.”
Clear Sense of Place
Consumers are looking for exploration and adventure — unique locales and authentic experiences are a draw in and of themselves. Attendees should be given opportunities to experience the local culture and engage with the community. “I go to a million conferences a year and they’re always in the sam.e cities,” Blackman said. “But there is a whole other world of alternatives.”
Michell Russell is editor in chief of Convene
This month’s Giving Back story is a perfect example of the “Bigger Than Oneself” trend: Consumers now expect companies to take action on important issues. According to research conducted last year, eight out of 10 corporate leaders believe that their companies should make their voice heard on environmental, social, and governance topics.
Those are the kinds of leaders who likely make serving their audience — and their employees — their top priority. Learn why servant leadership is having a moment, in our January cover and CMP Series story.
Please download “The Future of Meetings and Events” report here.