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What's the next biggest thing in the event industry? Hint, it may not be what you are thinking about.
I get this question at every event, interview, webinar, guest post I participate in. It's a question I hate. I hate it because it forces me to make predictions. Something I despise with all of myself. Predictions are awful, they are the most preferred tool of the ignorant. If it were for predictions in the event industry, we would be having this conversation with holograms. If it were for predictions, blogs should be dead by now. I hate predictions.
I am a true fan of analysis and of those experts that succeed in giving you an outlook based on data. Data was significant in the latest US elections, remember that. Those that understand data have an immense competitive advantage. This is why our 10 Event Trends report keeps being the most loved outlook in the industry. Despite the incredible content marketing noise, sad attempts to jump on the trends bandwagon, desperate efforts to Pantonize innovation in the event industry . This is not my opinion. It is data.
So if you catch me speaking at our next event, I will disappoint you. I won't give you predictions. There is a lot of that already and it's usually a great show. But you won't get it from me. I talk to #proudeventprofs only. Those that have the guts to go deeper and hate kiss kiss.
Yet I still need to answer the question. So here it is, it's coming....
What's the Next Biggest Thing in the Event Industry?
Event technology has been pushing the strongest bits of innovation over the past 6 years. After being discounted for a decade, many have realized the potential. Trade show floors are increasingly more crowded with tech companies willing to reach event professionals. If you look at registration, mobile apps and engagement - the contribution that technology has made to change events has been incredible.
I believe such contribution has peaked. Event technology is not a force driving change anymore. It is an established pillar of every event. Those that don't embrace it, will be out of business soon and frankly, we won't miss them. Event tech is not a new thing anymore, we are past that.
What event technology has contributed in highlighting is the chronic lack of meaning and innovation in event design. By event design I mean the art of creating meaningful events, not event decor. We all witness fantastic uses of event technology at boring events. The very reason why I started this blog over ten years ago was because I was fed up with the usual way of doing events. I got distracted for a good 8 years by event tech, I am now back to talk about why we need innovation in the way we create meetings. I will leave eventtech for the sake of eventtech to the latest EventMB me-too.
The next biggest thing in events is event design.
You know why. We've all perpetrated this. Great intentions, but let's do it the same way next year. I am no exception and I am ashamed, but I won't surrender. How do we get out of the Jennifer Lopez perception if we think that event planning is about planning? Planning is not planning. Planning is creating. If you don't create with each event, you are discounting yourself and your job.
If you think your job is to execute tasks on time, you are wrong. Very, very few event professionals start planning with the why (as a popular book suggests). They challenge why they need to have 200 sessions. Why they need to hire white male speakers. Why a trade show is in a big room with people shouting trying to attract attendees to their booth. These event professionals question every single part of 'planning events as usual' live in the future, they know what the next big thing is all about.
Plan better events. Challenge the status quo. Put attendees first, not $, not your boss. You've heard all of this before on EventMB. You are probably thinking 'Oh Julius, Not again! Not another rant!'. Yes, again my friend. A big, fat yes as Simon would say. And I am not ranting. If you perceive this as a rant you are likely defending yourself. Event (or meeting) design is not getting a fraction of the attention it should get. This topic should be on all event news websites, instead of self-driving cars.
So how do you start? I am not here to give you 10 easy steps to do it. EventMB probably will in the future but not now.
The first step in eliminating a problem is to admit that you have a problem. If you think that your conference is amazing, despite numbers going down, sponsors navigating away and attendees generally being bored, then we have nothing to say to each other. If on the other hand, you are ready to take the red pill, I'll be glad to be your Morpheus - as long as you are ready to be our Neo.
I know that probably this won't make any sense to you (especially if you haven't watched the Matrix) but I don't care. There is a generational divide in our industry and it has nothing to do with age. There are those who are willing to go and search what the red pill is and those who want to explore how to use greenery in their next event. #Neoforlife then!
So how? Start.
I almost cried when my speaking circuit friend (how sad is that - that we have a circuit I mean) Bo Krüger gave me the Meeting Design Game. If you've ever tried to pitch something to get a post on the blog you know you won't get anything. In this case, I had to put it on the blog. Every event planner should get one of these and play in the office. Get your boss to pay for it, save some money, or ask your fiance to buy it for Christmas.
If you don't want to spend the money, start with our trends. We will give you more content on this topic and make sure you are up to speed.
Virtual reality, live streaming - amazing concepts. But streaming of what? Virtual attendance of what? Of the usual boring stuff? No, thank you. Event Design is priority number one for you in 2017. Get equipped. Start reading, put it at the top of your new year resolutions.