I just got back from Charlotte, North Carolina where I was the innovation keynote speaker for the NC Festival and Event Association’s Showfest 2019. The conference was packed and it was great to see such a fun and receptive crowd. These were people who took copious notes and brought them back to their teams to implement.
According to Bureau of Labor statistics, the event industry is expected to increase in the U.S. by 11% between 2016 and 2026. Outlook about the future is positive and 85% of event planners are optimistic about the future. The meetings and events industry has a lot to celebrate! They are riding high!
This is why now is the time for meeting and event planners to innovate. I’m usually hired to go into companies, industries and organizations that are being disrupted. They are usually at the point where they’re spiraling down in a sea of change that they can’t get out from under. Don’t give me wrong, there’s never a bad time to innovate, but innovating when you’re on top can keep you from getting to that downward spiral to begin with. This has saved many industries from the brink that people had written off.
It’s much better to focus on innovating when things are going well because you have more of what you need, which is resources, talent and time. When a company is down, people tend to want to leave a sinking ship, so you may loose some of your top people and not have the time and money to implement any good ideas you do have.
Once people get to the top there is a tendency to rest on their laurels and start thinking that disruption will never happen to them. The outlook is rosy and their bank accounts are too. “We’re invincible and we’re not worried about the future or competition!” This is dangerous thinking, my friend.
All industries, all companies, and all organizations will be disrupted at some point. They will all go through some kind of change. And anything can change your business – technology, customer tastes, competition, government regulations, counterfeiters, the weather, etc.
The time to think about innovation is when you’re riding high, so you can stay ahead of the curve and remain flexible when it comes to changing trends.
I’m happy to see that one current trend is festivalization – an integration of festival elements into a business event. Even though the festival audience I spoke to were there for solid business takeaways, they integrated it with fun and interactive workshops and general sessions. The audience wanted to be involved and learn in a more tactile way, which is part of the trend of festivalization. The attendees want to be immersed in an experience they will remember.
According to CWT Meetings and Events “a wonderful resort in an exotic location is no longer enough- a complete buy-out is becoming critically important for some planners to achieve maximum attendee experience.”
It’s known that younger audiences tend to favor experiences over things, but the attendees I met at the festival conference were all ages and were all into the interactive experience.
As an innovation keynote speaker I like to get audience members on stage for improv and involve the rest of the audience in content participation, which is another critical aspect of festivalization. It closes the gap between entertainment and business. When the audience feels like they are more of a participant in the event, they tend to want to share it more, which is good news for meeting planners who want a broader social media reach.
The meetings and events industry is changing. Are you prepared?