Simpson was joined on stage in Las Vegas by Bianca Ferrer, creative director and event strategist for B+L Creative Group, and Elizabeth Sage, CMP, an experience design strategist for the Design Studio by Maritz Global Events. While the three contended — and persisted — with audio issues, Simpson joked, “We’re having a human-to-human moment.”
Simpson hasn’t yet arrived at a standard definition of what human-to-human design means for the events industry, he said. But, he added, “I think we can all say this: Humans are driven by their personal values. They’re making decisions based on that. They want experiences which are personally relevant to them. They desire community. And I would define community by relationships, belonging, connection — and they want that which fulfills the ‘me’ across multiple dimensions. I think there’s a lot that we can do to gain more in rich insights in uncovering the whole person who we’re designing for.”
The demographic descriptions of Prince Charles and Ozzy Osbourne are exactly the same, but they likely have different preferences when it comes buying products and services, Tim Simpson pointed out.
Marketing personas have their place — they can be used to help communicate messages about the value of an event to different target audiences, he said. But people, not personas, are at the heart of the product-innovation lifecycle, Simpson said. “So, if we’re determined as an industry to deliver meaningful human experiences, then we really need to rethink how we become more personal in our data collection.”
Many, but not all, organizations rely almost exclusively on event satisfaction surveys to drive event design decisions, Simpson said. They are important, but “I think that the risk of only doing post-event satisfaction surveys is that it’s sort of like trying to look forward through the rear-view mirror,” Simpson said. And just like a rear-view mirror, when designing surveys, there are blind spots — things we don’t think to ask about, he said.
An alternative is to begin “asking the right question at every stage of designing the experience,” Simpson said. “Build them into your planning cycle, asking those preference questions up front, knowing that preferences change.” In addition to questions about preferences, such as session format types and how the balance of time is spent doing different kinds of thing on site, the questions should also uncover the differing values that participants bring with them into events, he said. “You can start to paint a picture that is much richer.”
Barbara Palmer is deputy editor of Convene.