A divisive political system. A groundswell in social movements. A growing interest in people connecting with people, not technology. All of these are fueling some changes in how events are produced and managed.
Jeff Kear is the owner and co-founder of Planning Pod, an online event management software platform for meeting and event professionals. One big trend that Kear has identified through his interactions with event management clients and in reviewing the collective data from these events is “a surge in radical thinking, as well as a push for fundamental change in how events are conceived, run, and programmed.”
We also see innovative thinking in how participants have more control over their experience and the freedom to shape it
He points to environmental forces in the political system and the groundswell of social movements like the #MeToo campaign, which are already influencing how those who manage meetings are doing their work.
“From how events are staffed and the policies that police conduct, to the content offered and the people presenting it, we are already seeing a push for more openness and inclusiveness. We also see innovative thinking in how participants have more control over their experience and the freedom to shape it,” he says.
Steve Garguilo of Action Surge also points to the impact that various social movements are having on the meeting industry. “The biggest change I’m seeing in the event space is the demand for action coming out of events,” he says. “It’s no longer sufficient to just spend a day or three days or a week at a conference or event. It’s about what happens next. What happens after the event.”
For event planners in this hyper-charged and fast-changing environment, staying attuned to client needs—and the needs of the audience they serve can help fuel insights to drive innovation. “Listening holes” abound and may range from in-person, one-on-one, conversations, or focus groups, to online sources of information like social media trends and groups.
Importantly, though, some of the greatest insights to fuel radical thinking can come from outside your own industry or areas of market focus. Casting a wide net to stay on top of economic, environmental, and technology trends can lead to important “a-ha” moments.
Taking the time to interact with others can also lead to new ideas. The makerspace concept, while generally applied to making things that are technology-related, can also be applied to “making” events. Coming together with others to experiment and explore new ideas—particularly radical ideas—will help hospitality professionals stay ahead of the curve.