The world is changing, and the way we approach meetings must keep pace. Here are four things I believe planners must focus on to keep their meetings fresh, relevant, and impactful.
1. Integrate technology. I’m not talking about just plugging in the latest technology—what we need is thoughtful and personalized integration of advances in technology to help us achieve our goals. We need to get creative and dynamic in how technology and online conversations are integrated into meetings and events. We're moving away from sit, listen/watch, and tweet your snippets.
Think about it: No one goes to Google to learn everything about everything—we type exactly what we want to know into the search bar, and learn just that piece of data we find in the results. Why shouldn’t meetings work the same way? Data presentation at events should be visualized and tailored to what your participants are seeking. Digital communication should also be integrated into crisis communication plans.
2. Collaborate. More and more event companies are specializing in niches—which means they need to pull in contractors, vendors, and partners that can help them cohesively execute a full-circle event. This isn’t a negative—it’s actually a positive because you need a collaboration of all the greatest minds to make it work. It also necessitates building a sharing economy of referrals and clients and communities and audiences.
It mirrors what’s happening outside the meetings and events world. We see it in many big brands’ major marketing and PR initiatives where brands cross-promote each other through the very qualities that make each unique, resulting in a better service/product for the consumer. (Here are some good examples.) Collaboration gives rise to fresh perspectives and innovative offerings that stir up the pot of usual expectations.
I believe integration and collaboration make life better and more robust for meeting professionals. We have resources to enhance the attendee experience. We can build relationships with partners and vendors that will help enhance the attendee experience. It’s a win-win!
3. Take advantage of emerging industries. Cannabis is one such emerging industry, and now it’s legal in some form in more states than ever. We’ve actually produced events that centered around promoting cannabis retailers and businesses. While the industry still has some issues to be ironed out, it is on the rise, which means there are still unmet service needs as well as rising budgets for those needs. Before jumping in, meeting and event professionals need to understand the laws around this new industry. Then start making connections and expanding services to meet their needs!
4. Think different. Mix it up when it comes to venue space. Instead of conference centers or hotel ballrooms, we’re finding more and more events being held in less traditional spaces such as giant warehouses or museums. While they can add new life and excitement to an event, many unique venues also come with unique challenges. It’s important for planners to identify partners that are experienced in hosting meetings and events in unique venues so you don’t have any unwelcome surprises during planning and production.