With 2014 squarely behind us and a clear view ahead to 2015, what can the business events industry look forward to in the months ahead? Will we be beating down old topics of debate or will we find valuable solutions and seek newer, hotter discussions? Here’s my take on a few things to keep a close eye on.
1. Mind the gap
It seemed like everywhere you turned, conference content included a panel discussion on the topic of the generational gap divide pitting millennials on one spectrum, boomers on the other and the Gen X’s conveniently centred in the middle. It’s caused a ripple effect in the industry with words the likes of “entitlement, legacy, old-fashioned and misunderstood” bandied on the discussion circuits. Will these groups come together and look at bridging the gap to understanding, or will it fall further apart? Here’s one key factor to face though; this year, the next generation, the “z’s” are poised to hit the workplace for the first time.
2. To surf or not to surf
Getting a good WIFI signal is more important than a morning cup of coffee at most events now. Does anyone think this topic will slow down or are we speeding down a road with lots more bumps ahead? The debate of free or not is now in good company with workable connectivity, signal blocking, RFID and privacy. Let the topic rage on for 2015.
3. Caviar that we can’t even finish on PB&J budgets
Has the industry finally woken up to the proliferation of excess and food waste we continually punish ourselves with at our events? Budgets are tighter year-after-year, but we still seek to over-indulge our guests with the best of everything at continued alarming rates of excess that generally goes unconsumed. Is it sad that as we witness the world’s rapid rate of everyday hunger, we can’t look at our practices with a little more attention? Some planners and venues are making some noise, and I think this topic is going to hit its precipice in 2015.
4. The “face-to-face” battle
Technology is great, and viewing content remotely and online is undoubtedly an efficient option. But the reality is that it should only be an option. The value in maintaining business event budgets for “face-to-face” meetings is crucial to our survival. Rather than looking to replace our events with webcasts and streaming, it should be used to increase stakeholder interaction. Without it, we are cheating ourselves and eventually our jobs as well.
5. Stand up and shout
Business events may still be still known as an industry without a true voice, but there may be some momentum swinging in the right direction. Last year, the “Meetings Means Business” strategy made a loud push in the US market and in Canada, the BEICC (Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada) was gifted the Canadian Economic Impact Study from the MPI Foundation with a strategy to drive awareness about our economic clout industry wide. Can we successfully move away from our inter-industry silos and towards a model of greater collaboration so we can lobby for recognition and protection? I think I speak for all of us when I hope for the day our friends and family actually know what we do for a living.