Three key areas for improvement in the events industry

Three key areas for improvement in the events industryIt’s a new world, or is it? Just when I think we are making leaps ahead in how we are managing and delivering meetings, events and group experiences, something happens that makes me think, perhaps we are not.

I have the opportunity to go to many conferences and events as part of my job and feel very fortunate for a number of reasons. The opportunities abound to see colleagues and friends from (literally) around the world, to learn from experienced event professionals and those from other sectors in fantastic educational sessions, and to see and learn about new products and ideas on trade show floors and in hallway conversations.

But I am also often surprised at what we aren’t doing as well as I would have hoped by now. I would love your feedback in the comments section below about what you are seeing, and your successes.

First – sustainability. It is woven through all associations involved with the CIC – the majority of the industry. While there is definitely less paper being used, mostly thanks to mobile apps (and many in partnership with QuickMobile where I work), we are still being wasteful of other resources. Food and beverage served on paper and in plastic, and delivered in quantities far beyond what can be consumed, is still prevalent. Thankfully, there are less water bottles, but they’re still out there. Waste management is highly inconsistent in airports, in hotels, in venues.

For all of you who are on board with “one planet” thinking, I applaud you. For the rest, until the meeting professionals sending out the RFPs make sustainability a core ask, we might not get there fast enough – so use the great checklists and measurement tools created by the CIC for APEX, or for larger events with the ISO20121 initiative, and make a stand. Yes, we are going to take large groups of people to meet together – and yes, there will be an impact, but we can minimize it with small, thoughtful acts and in choosing destinations that are making a positive difference.

Second – wellness. We are still packing in a LOT. We’re dealing with 7 a.m. starts to midnight finishes, a lack of rest, and not enough hydration with the most free-flowing items typically being coffee and alcohol, and a diet that is still gluten and sugar full. Changing our menus to provide nutritious options is such an easy fix with choosing great catering partners as is educating ourselves about items that provide this without breaking the budget.

We’re not getting enough exercise besides the long walks between sessions and events and not enough fresh air. We want to keep people inside – where the sessions and exhibitors and events are – but are we perhaps packing in so much it is to the detriment of the attendees who sit slack-jawed at the airport, arrive back to their homes and offices exhausted? Not only have they had little time to process what they have learned, there is often less time to put into practice the great ideas they were so inspired by on the first day of the conference! Small, incremental wellness changes could have a huge impact – the kind of impact that makes participants choose your event first, and baby steps can be used to test ideas out.

Third – technology. Long live the PowerPoint! Why? When used well, it provides a visual support to what the presenters are telling us. We know statistically you remember about 20 per cent of what you hear (more perhaps if told as stories), 40 per cent of what you see and hear (so highly visual PowerPoint using memorable images and videos are our presentation friends), and 80 per cent of what you hear, see and do something with.

Here is where big room technology combined with in-your-hand technology is a killer combo. You can take notes, use polls, respond to surveys that ask about what you are learning and how you will use it – and share slides and documents with others you work with, all from one handy place. Technology is not new, but how we can now use it to create linkages from idea to action is still vastly underutilized.

It is these puzzles and a few others around innovation, creativity, immersive experience design and the fundamentals that take us from an idea to an event that truly rocks our worlds that keep me up at night. What keeps you up at night?

About the author:

Tahira Endean, CMP, DES, CED, is a curious event producer, passionate about intentional event design and the integration of now-ubiquitous technology to enhance the human experience at events and everyday. Tahira is committed to the industry and has been recognized for a range of contributions. In 2016, she was named a MeetingsNet Changemaker, and nominated in Vancouver for Global Meetings Industry Day Influencer and MPI BC Chapter Mentor of the Year. In 2015 she was named one of the “Top 5 Women in Event Technology”, was inducted into the Meetings Canada Hall of Fame in the Big Idea category, and most recently was one of Canada’s 20 most Fascinating Women in events from Canadian Special Event magazine. Driven by a fascination with what we are learning about neuroscience and the power of the five senses to enhance memory, knowledge retention and improve connections, she is continually seeking appropriate ways to design the most relevant meeting and event environments. An instructor at BCIT, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, she instructs both Special Event Planning and Sustainable Event Management. She contributed to the 9th CIC Manual which provides the framework for the CMP studies. She is the author of Intentional Event Design: Our Professional Opportunity. Tahira also loves cooking, time with her family, and anything with bubbles!

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