Dynamic changes we might see in the events and meetings industry

By Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells, Alexandra Whittington, April Koury, and Helena Calle of Fast Future

Meetings and events is a dynamic sector and will become even more so as there is potential for major trends to become everyday reality in a just a few years  Here are some developments which have started and are likely to continue.

  1. Real-Time Conference Agendas – Participants will be able to use meeting apps to schedule impromptu sessions held in any available space – coffee bars, lobbies, exhibition floors, even car parks. The speaker will talk into a microphone attached to their own smartphone and have the talk broadcast to those who tune in to that particular channel. Attendees will be able to view presentation slides and hear the speaker via their own device and headphones. So, no matter how noisy the background, the audience will be able to understand you perfectly clearly.
  2. #metoo Charters – The meetings industry will take positive action in the wake of the harassment and assault cases made public across many sectors in 2017. Codes of conduct will appear covering behaviour at events, participants will be asked to sign these to confirm their adherence. Reporting of incidents will be made easier and more discreet, and offenders’ organizations will be notified immediately when such issues arise.
  3. Stress Centres – concerns over our mental wellbeing are rising across society and workplace stress is reaching epidemic levels in some sectors. Events will start to include facilities where participants can talk discretely to counsellors and therapists about their issues.
  4. Integrated Events Apps – Users will not have to download individual APPs for each event, we will integrated systems emerge that present content for multiple events – these may even become standard features on many smartphones. App developers will create more cohesive systems that merge the information and presentations all the different events that sign up to use them. Users will have the opportunity to browse for the most interesting and useful information across a range of events and conferences – perhaps making micro-payments to access content for the events they didn’t attend.
  5. Robot Realms – Events will make greater use of robots as mobile customer service assistants, kitchen staff, baristas, waiting staff, security guards, and porters. We’ll also see more robots featuring presentations and even delivering them. Within facilities we might see drones capturing videos of the sessions, transporting goods, and even moving people between sessions.
  6. Cryptoculture – With the rising profile of digital currencies like Bitcoin, the next five years could require the meetings sector to adapt to customers interested in paying with cryptocurrencies.  Being prepared to accept payments via Bitcoin and other digital currency would be an important step; there may also be new risks at hand when it comes to having anonymously paid fees, which is the nature of Bitcoin but unconventional in terms of event planning.

There is likely to be a massive expansion of events about and related to cryptocurrencies as investment interests grow and the public becomes more and more curious about the potential of cryptocurrencies. A growing number of industry conferences will also look to add content about the potential impact and use of cryptocurrencies in their sector.

7. The Replaced – As the automation of work and jobs progresses as an economic force, it is possible that there will be a rise in the number of technologically unemployed people.  Events and meetings aimed at this audience might emerge as an opportunity for the meetings sector.  Past employers, governments, other sponsors, and even the individuals themselves might pay for seminars, conferences, education sessions, and certification courses aimed at counselling, reskilling, and retraining the replaced.

8. Big Brother – Events that gather large numbers of participants could become attractive to proponents of the growing Internet of Things (IoT) and smart city movement.  Attendees of large events might earn rewards, discounts, or actual money for agreeing to use tracking devices during business conventions or meetings.  Attendee data would provide key insights to exhibiters, and non-participating marketers, for example those aiming at the business traveller.

Marketers will place ever-greater value on knowing how participants spend their time, which stands they visit, what they look at on specific exhibits, who they talk to, and how long for. Of course, this might all seem very intrusive and, so it would need to be the choice of the individual attendee as to whether they were tracked or not. For event venues, large exhibition spaces might provide the perfect venue for IoT vendors to set up demonstrations and smart city simulations.

9. Enhanced-Friendly – People are beginning to pursue a range of brain and body enhancements – chemical, genetic, physical, and electronic. From nootropic attention stimulating drugs and supplements through to body strengthening exoskeletons, and genetic modification. Event planners will increasingly need to consider the needs of these enhanced visitors.  As biohacking and bionics go from fringe to mainstream, how will meeting planners adapt to dealing with customers, colleagues, and vendors who are partially enhanced?  Within the next five years, various forms of biotech implants could become more normalized, giving some individuals superhuman hearing, vision, or memory.  As the sensory spectrum is expanded, will meetings be expected to accommodate the needs of the enhanced human

10. The Brexit Boom – Businesses the world over are struggling to understand what form the UK’s exit from the European Union might actually take – or if it will happen at all. Should it happen, the process might take five or ten years to complete fully. There is likely to be a high level of uncertainty and chaos. As the story continues to unfold there will be growing demand for events which help suppliers from and to the UK understand the latest picture and implications for their sector. For the meetings industry, the key here will be the ability to organise and promote relatively short, high quality, sector-specific events at speed.

We anticipate major changes in the way that the meetings and events sector operates within the next five years.  The trick will be taking action to keep up and meet client expectations in a highly competitive marketplace.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

    

Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells, Alexandra Whittington, Helena Calle, and April Koury are from Fast Future which publishes books from future thinkers around the world exploring how developments such as AI, robotics and disruptive thinking could impact individuals, society and business and create new trillion-dollar sectors. Two new books from Fast Future are: ‘Beyond Genuine Stupidity – Ensuring AI Serves Humanity’, and ‘The Future – Reinvented: Reimagining Life, Society, and Business’. See: www.fastfuture.com

Web         http://www.fastfuture.com

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LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/talwar

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