I have been traveling a lot – ok, maybe too much – this spring. Eight countries by my last count. In each I have had the chance to chat with colleagues from all sides of our industry at the event, city, state and national level.
First a word on what we call this “industry”. One of the issues we have is that there is no single global term for what we do. It is labeled everything from Hospitality to MICE to Meetings and Conventions to Business Events. It is this latter that I think we should all start coalescing around. It encompasses all of it and with the term “Business”, provides a legitimacy that is also important in dealing with perceptions. It also allows us to start moving the dialogue from hospitality and tourism to economic development and impact – both economic and otherwise.
Secondly, I am frequently asked, “What are customers/clients talking or worrying about?” or “What are the trends impacting events these days?” From all the conversations that I have had – here is my list:
The first two are linked but separate. Health and security of attendees and of the “event” have certainly moved up with the headlines these days. From Ebola to Zika, Paris to Brussels and Jakarta. People want assurances on safety, which of course are impossible to provide. Alongside this, more and more of our time as planners and organizers is going into risk mitigation of all sorts to maximally protect our clients and attendees from any and all potential negative consequences. Those destinations that can help do this one way or another will earn more of our business.
Competition is increasing for everyone on both sides of our business. More destinations are building centers and hotels and entering the market. More entities are in association space competing for attention and dollars of our attendees, members and stakeholders.
The “experience” movement is forcing all of us to look at customizing everything for customers/members and attendees. Couple this with the internet of everything and big data and you begin to sense the challenge to planners about keeping their events relevant and unique for today’s (and tomorrow’s) attendee. Oh, and we need to do that on roughly the same budget!
All this is one reason you are seeing smart associations moving toward thought leadership, meaning and entrepreneurism. How can we help you make sense of all the data and information out there and show the “right stuff” you should be paying attention to? How can we best identify the gaps you need to fill in your careers and then match that with quality content and education that sticks?
To accomplish this we are looking for more from our destination and hotel partners. We need highly skilled partners who understand the above and understand how industry disrupters are impacting our events and our particular industry segment and are willing and able to help us do events and content delivery better. THAT will earn you loyalty and repeat bookings. If it is only ever going to be a dialogue about rates/dates/space then we are on a race to a commoditized bottom. Talk to me about these things and how you can help me make my events more successful w better outcomes and we are talking strategically and you become a valuable partner.
There is no doubt we are living in “exciting times”! How we navigate this together will sort out the successful destinations, hotels and Business Events.