February 7, 2012
As we all know, the meetings and incentive travel industry is continually re-inventing itself and looking for ways to provide more meaningful and memorable experiences for attendees.
Other than serving food and using name badges, almost every aspect of the events we present today is different from the past.
Attendees are more “connected” than ever before through technology, so most meetings are less about transferring information from speaker to audience and more about promoting dialogue and idea exchange in a face-to-face environment.
And most of today’s incentive programs are likely to include a business component and allow participants to customize their experience by offering them a choice of activities.
More importantly, the event is less likely to be a singular occurrence and much more likely to support and be related to all of the host’s other marketing and corporate initiatives.
The truth is, the whole world of marketing has changed drastically in the past 10 years.
We have gone from a world where companies told the consumer what they needed to buy or do, to one where the client is truly in charge.
The client expects to choose how, when and where he will receive information, and expects the information to be tailored to his specific needs.
That means that the real purpose of presenting face-to-face experiences is to promote relationship growth and build loyalty within specific segments of the market.
Events have had to change significantly to achieve those goals and are more likely to be designed to support (and are supported by) virtual marketing campaigns and information exchanges.
It is not unusual today to see events that are connected to online user forums, provide twitter hashtags to the audience to encourage dialogue exchange, endorse mobile communities and promote other forms of audience interaction.
This means the planner’s skill sets have had to change as well.
Yes – a good planner has to manage all logistics effectively.
But now, he or she also has to be able to talk about and facilitate the implementation of individualized learning, online exchanges, mobile applications and interactive websites.
How are we as industry professionals able to do that?
Increasingly, it’s all about collaboration – how well we build relationships with experts in other fields and how we integrate them into the event team, to design more relevant experiences.
One thing will never change: events will have to continue to evolve to remain relevant to a prospective audience that is constantly transforming.