IBTM Wired Day 3 wrap-up: Step outside your comfort zone to make change happen

IBTM Wired Day 3 wrap-up: Step outside your comfort zone to make change happen

Talking on day three of IBTM Wired, Ozan Varol, rocket scientist turned bestselling author and professor, shared his four-step moonshot thinking process.

Ozan introduces moonshot thinking as a way to imagine the unimaginable and solve the unsolvable. It can help businesses spot opportunities they couldn’t see before and create an extraordinary advantage to shape the future of their industry.

One of the hardest things to do is to make change happen and in Ozan’s opinion, it’s moonshot thinking that sets apart industry-leading businesses from the rest. One of his biggest recommendations is that companies undertake a process of ‘backcasting’ – a key strategy in moonshot thinking. Instead of starting with present reality, businesses should begin by identifying their ideal reality in the future and then work backwards to establish what is needed to get there and in doing so, create a roadmap for making that moonshot a reality.

The second step in Ozan’s process is to take your ideas and start experimenting. Ozan notes that all significant progress takes place under uncertain conditions – if businesses stick to the familiar, they won’t find the unexpected. In this stage it’s vital to remember that many of the decisions we make are reversible, so when you’re deciding and looking to minimise risk, ask if the decision is a one-way door or a two-day door, i.e., reversible. If it’s a reversible decision, you can move quickly. If it a decision or idea appears to be irreversible, see if you can figure out a way to make it a ‘two-way door’ and then you can run a small-scale experiment to test it out.

Ozan also makes the point that it’s important to learn from failure. He says “society conditions a fear of failure which can be paralysing and often gets in the way of progress. Businesses should look at failure as an investment – if you’re only making small bets, failure gives you really valuable data and an opportunity to learn.

“Moonshot thinking means that even if you don’t get what you’re aiming for, your failure will take you far ahead of where you otherwise ended up. And remember, even if you do achieve, the journey doesn’t end once the mission is accomplished – it’s all one continuous loop”.

The pandemic has undeniably altered the outlook and operations of association meetings. While this transformation has brought plenty of challenges, the industry has also embraced new opportunities within the crisis. ICCA CEO Senthil Gopinath shared the latest insights into the current mindset of associations and what they are looking for to support their adaptation to a post-pandemic world.

The recent ICCA Association Meeting Needs Survey, in collaboration with AfSAE, APFAO and ESAE had some encouraging insights into the future of in-person events, with 49% of respondents planning to schedule in-person formats for the first or second half of 2021 and 38% for 2022.

There are shifts in meeting structures coming through. For example, there is a clear trend towards more regional meetings – clearly showcasing our industry’s resilience looking at using new models. Rotation has remained unaffected with associations being very loyal to destinations selected for the future. That said, Senthil believes that future rotation patterns might take a more regional approach than previously.

Unsurprisingly, for 96% of respondents, technology has impacted the way they conduct meetings. One of the biggest trends pinpointed in the survey is towards investing more in professional production, with 38% doing this compared with 8.4% in May 2020.

Clearly the pandemic has impacted on RFPs. The most common changes are updates to cancellation options and force majeure clauses, the growing propensity for hybrid requirements, and a need for flexibility with numbers and dates.

Delegate sentiments towards the return of face-to-face are mixed with various factors influencing willingness and ability to travel. When there is an ability to travel, delegates want to attend in-person events and in fact the general sentiment towards meeting face-to-face has intensified. Digital collaboration just doesn’t instil the same camaraderie and now delegates are surer than ever that face-to-face cannot be fully replaced with digital alternatives.

Alistair Turner, Managing Director, EIGHT PR & Marketing spoke to Rick Taylor, CEO, The Business Tourism Company on the upcoming trends for business events in the Middle East and Africa.

Taylor began by emphasising the scale of the region. Africa is three times the size of the USA and three times the size of China. “It’s an enormous, majestic continent…that is waiting to be discovered.”

Taylor has been working with Kenya and other clients during the pandemic to establish their convention bureaux. He notes that the continent has so much opportunity, but one of its challenges is image. There’s some work happening in Namibia around brand Africa. “Once the meeting planners get here,” said Taylor. “Often they comment that this place is absolutely incredible.”

Taylor urged meeting planners to step out of their comfort zone and see what Africa can offer. “The USA loves Africa from an incentive product offering,” he said. There are fabulous safaris in Tanzania and Kenya, brilliant beaches and hot air balloon flights across the plains of Africa looking down at an awesome visual.

The sustainability issue was always there in Africa, but now it is front and centre, says Taylor. Event designers are looking at interweaving sustainability into their events. Across Africa there is a massive movement to plant trees. There is a forest in Dakar in Senegal where the vision is to grow a sub-Saharan forest in 50 years’ time.

The combination of a sustainable focus along with beautiful natural scenery and resources means that Africa is one to watch. There’s a lot of untapped potential in this region of the world, and some exciting opportunities opening up for event planners eager for new and different destinations for their business events.

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