According to American Express’ Global Meetings and Events Forecast, conferences and corporate events — like trade shows or sales and marketing meetings — are set to increase. In the UK alone, corporate events are big business amounting to a staggering £18.1bn in 2017. In this competitive environment, conference organizers are employing technology to organize and deliver the event and marketing to attract and retain clients. Five current trends are discernible.
Ensuring that resources and delegates are in the right place and at the right time is crucial. With event diagraming software, planners, clients, and venues are able to use drag-and-drop diagraming, 3D walkthroughs and seating software on a single platform to map everything out visually, right down to placing a microphone. The cloud-based software centralizes communications, facilitating both bespoke and collaborative project planning, saving time, building relationships and increasing efficiency.
To engage participants and to enhance the speaker and panel’s contribution, advanced technologies are being provided including the use of augmented reality simulation to experience, check boxes and wearable devices, such as smart medallions or watches are becoming common. Augmented reality is fast catching on since it enables participants to more fully engage with meeting leaders and fellow participants in communication and simulations. For instance, Volkswagen used augmented reality simulation to demonstrated the performance of Golf Cabriolet to delegates at a press event. Also, wearable devices track delegate’s and authorize access to particular services like real-time voting and premium services.
Forthcoming advances in visual, audio and sensory technologies could create wholly immersive experiences for participants.
Current concerns with mindfulness, climate change, social, environmental, and governmental criteria, will become de rigueur for conference organizers and delegates. A case in point is last January’s Meeting in Davos on climate change, which received widespread derision and scorn when it emerged that delegates used around 1,500 private planes to attend. Conference organizers and increasingly clients, sensitive to public and media concerns, are embedding sustainability objectives into all aspects of the event. First to ensure power comes from sustainable sources rather than fossil fuels, using recyclable paper and banishing plastic.
MEMORABLE AND EXPERIENTIAL
Conference clients and organizers are at one in seeking to differentiate their event by giving a memorable experience. Strategies include exclusive visits to zoos, art galleries, or museums. A good example is that of the Flame 2018 conference, which ended one day with a dinner party at Amsterdam’s Science Museum, or attending the host city’s football match or offering a round of golf, a time for leisure and networking. For instance, at Barcelona conferences, a trip to the Barcelona football stadium to see a match is a good draw with delegates. There is also the combination of the conference center and vacation resort, most notably in Singapore, which combines excellent resources with historic sights, cultural insights, leisure, and sports i.e. a mix of business, fitness, and pleasure.
Another important sensory dimension is food. Providing a good supply of healthy, interesting, and attractive array of food and drink is vital to the conference delegate’s well-being and attentiveness. For instance, inviting famous chefs like Gordon Ramsey or Jamie Oliver to put on cookery demonstrations This means increasingly, menus boasting fresh local seasonal ingredients and samples of local cuisine for the adventurous. If possible, for the foodie delegates, an invitation to a city or farmer’s market or craft brewery could prove attractive to delegates and boost attendance another year.