Ask the experts – The future of the events industry: what’s next?

Ask the experts – The future of the events industry: what’s next?

From sustainability to hybrid to personalisation, four events industry leaders who took part in IBTM Wired explain what they think the next few years has in store for our industry.

Anna Abdelnoor, Co-founder, isla

The future of the events industry has to be a sustainable one. This means prioritising the planet and realising the environmental and social impacts of our events. At isla we believe that to accelerate the transition to a sustainable future, we need to improve knowledge and education across the entire industry to encourage consistent implementation of sustainable practices.

Standardisation and measurement will also be critical in improving our current processes. We need to track, measure and report event carbon emissions and waste whilst assessing performance against sustainability targets and frameworks.

Planning for the future provides immense opportunities to innovate and reimagine our supply chain. We recently launched an isla print working group dedicated to solving the challenges around sustainable print and event graphics. It is through collaboration and driving action-orientated solutions like this that we can affect change.

Tim Sutter, Regional Business Development Director at Cvent

While the headlines of last year would have noted that the industry took a beating last year – people lost work, many events had to cancel, etc. – the silver lining has been the innovation born out of crisis. It has led to more agile thinking from the marketing and events teams, more collaboration between internal teams and external suppliers, expedited event technology developments and an exponential growth in event engagement scoring and data capture. So many planners were quick to adapt to the times, and their suppliers helped make their events successful, when recreating the in-person experience seemed impossible.

With over a year under our belts, we feel that the industry is in a stronger position than ever. We have been talking about personalising event experiences for years, and how much more personalised can your event experience be when you can choose to attend an event from you home OR in-person and the venue.

The hybrid event phenomenon that is flourishing across businesses and organisations of all shapes and sizes is providing a whole new experience for meeting and event attendees, giving them more choice and making events more accessible than ever before. The benefit to the organisers; extending the reach of their events, growing their audiences, and being able to operate outside the confines of a Monday-through-Wednesday, 3-day flash in the pan, but rather make their event a continuum. Elongating the effects of what is possibly their number one driver of business.

James Morgan, Founder, Event Tech Lab | Principal Lecturer in Live Design and Technology, University of Westminster

What we are going to see in the next few years is a recalibration of the supply structure for the events industry – at the local, national and international level. With the economic recovery from the pandemic limiting some event planners’ budgets, the fast forwarding – through necessity – of common usage of online platforms, as well as corporate sustainability goals, means the supply side is already changing. There have already been supply-side business failures. Traditional supply-side capacities at destinations – for example – hotel capacity, rentals of technical and decorative elements as well as other physical elements of event production and investment in those elements will be realigned. This is something the market will take care of in terms of demand of these elements so look out for changes in what is in short supply as well over what is over supplied.

Cathy Breden, EVP/COO at International Association of Exhibitions and Events | CEO, Center for Exhibition Industry Research Foundation

The exhibitions and events industry is in recovery mode, with many countries relaxing the protocols that have been in place since last year. What we are seeing portends a positive future. Our research shows a lot of pent-up demand for getting back to face-to-face. And, while we know that digital was great in the short-term, both exhibitors and attendees/visitors have indicated they prefer face-to-face. Digital will always have a place in events; however, the extent of use will depend on industry sector and audience.

About IBTM Wired: IBTM Wired is the newest addition to IBTM’s global portfolio of events and intelligence for the meetings, incentives, conferences and events industry. The event takes place annually online and unites thousands of industry professionals from around the world for four days of one-to-one business meetings, sparking new connections and renewing existing ones and a programme of live and on-demand education sessions.

If you’d like to watch sessions from any of these speakers, click here to join a waiting list to be the first to know when the sessions go live on YouTube.

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