After a few years of pandemic-related market recalibration, this year’s IMEX America show was the largest ever. More and more hoteliers, DMCs, and destinations are opting in and expanding their footprint, with a clear message that “travel is back.”
From custom-branded hats to mesmerizing Hypervsn 3D holographic displays, exhibitors revealed a range of event trends and market innovations for the next generation of meetings and events. Here are four that caught my attention:
Event planners are looking for better ways to help attendees make meaningful connections, and I suspect JabberYak’s badges meet that need. Participants pick seven topics that are of interest to them (e.g., cats, coffee, Paris, marathons, Star Trek, kayaking, marketing), which get prominently displayed on JabberYak badges. Based on studies around “the power of seven,” which say people are more likely to find a connection point when seven potential connections are presented, the badges are an easy way for people to meet on a human level. The personalized lists can also be printed on t-shirts or displayed as a virtual background for online meetings.
The brand also offers icebreaker buttons with conversation starters (My weirdest pizza topping, What I’d never leave home without, etc.) that can get people talking along with a set of analysis tools to help organizers better understand their attendees. If event owners would like design around their attendees’ JabberYak choices, the tool also offers an analytics dashboard, which uses A.I. to offer predictive insights.
Ethical Facial Recognition
With all of today’s buzz around A.I. technologies, facial recognition and its application to events might get overlooked, especially with privacy considerations increasingly in play. That’s why I was especially interested in seeing Zenus AI on the IMEX show floor discussing the ethical considerations of its facial-recognition technologies and how it ensures the privacy and anonymity of the visual data it captures. The Zenus technology gathers attendees’ facial cues in order to provide feedback on attendee sentiment. From monitoring the expressions of trade-show booth visitors to giving speakers real-time feedback on their audience’s mood and energy, the technology connects well to the ever-growing need to determine if content and exhibits are having true emotional impact.
Sustainability is a meeting trend that isn’t going away, and two IMEX exhibitors in particular grabbed my attention. One was the Exclusive Collection, a group of seven luxury properties in England that have come together as a certified B Corp., meaning they meet highest standards for social and environmental impact. Although our firm hasn’t yet used the properties, the model is encouraging as there are relatively few luxury properties which meet B Corp. standards.
I also took note of Trees4Travel, which offers a free tool for calculating an event’s carbon footprint and making event decisions that can lessen that footprint. Based on data provided on the event, Trees4Travel calculates the number of trees that must be planted and United Nations Carbon Credits that must be purchased to offset the event. Groups can track how their trees are developing as well as the positive community impact the nurseries are having globally.
Melissa Van Dyke is senior vice president, integrated marketing and innovation at Creative Group, Inc.