Eventful News: The Changing Factors in Forming Event Destinations

We often talk about venues, but less often do we dive into the outer layer of the event onion: The destination itself. This week, with two new studies released on this very subject, we’re taking time to analyze.

Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the four top event news updates from the past week.

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1. Destinations International Releases 2019 Futures Study (TSNN)

TLDR 

Destinations International has released their 2019 Futures Study, providing local organizations with up-to-date cornerstones for successful strategic development. The study uses survey results from more than 520 community leaders across 55 countries to pinpoint the latest trends and strategies in destination marketing.

Destination organizations around the world are facing emerging economic, political, social and economic challenges that are forcing them to adapt. The DestinationNEXT Futures Study provides destination leaders with a roadmap for the future.” -Don Welsh, President & CEO of Destinations International

What does it mean for planners?

With this information in hand, CVBs will be able to focus on transformational opportunities, painting their destinations as powerful partners for event planners. The three areas of focus are as follows:

  1. Stewardship – Destination organizations are collaborating more closely with local communities to provide more authentic experiences that truly connect events and the cities that host them. 
  2. Alignment – With support from events and local communities, these organizations are integrating economic, social, and environmental sustainability as pillars that drive competitive advantage and meet attendee demands.
  3. Digitization – More sophisticated digital solutions are connecting destinations and event planners more directly than ever.

What’s next?

Stewardship and alignment are of particular interest to the event experience, with both playing into the concepts of authenticity and legacy. Attendees want to make a difference in host communities and interact with the authentic culture of a given locale. By getting the community involved, destination organizations are setting the stage for more meaningful events that take place in partnership with the city as opposed to just within the city.

Further Reading: 4 Major Benefits of Working With a CVB

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2. Will Removing Mini-Shampoos Save the Environment? (Meetings & Conventions)

TLDR 

With IHG and Marriott announcing that they will remove plastic mini shampoo bottles from their rooms, it looks as though there’s cause for celebration amongst environmentalists. But in this piece from Yossi Sheffi, Professor of Engineering at MIT, we learn it may be too soon to celebrate. 

To Sheffi, these moves are possible PR stunts, meant to distract the public from the larger and much more complex measures that truly produce a reduced carbon footprint. He argues that these “feel-good” initiatives are changes that consumers can live with, while bolder moves such as setting a higher minimum temperature on air conditioners may actually lead to backlash.

Even if replacing miniature toiletries does reduce waste somewhat…the move to bulk products will barely put a dent in the plastic waste that now clogs the planet’s rivers and oceans. It is another “feel good” initiative which help avoid the move to more serious actions that can actually make a difference.” -Yossi Sheffi, Professor of Engineering at MIT

What does it mean for planners?

Planners are hearing the calls of attendees for greener events, but there has yet to be significant, widespread traction in addressing some of the more wasteful elements in the event process. At the top of the list is food waste, which continues to have near-dogmatic acceptance due to F&B minimums. Until planners are able to present a united front on these types of larger issues, smaller shifts within the event may just be bandaids for carbon-emitting bullet wounds.

What’s next?

As group bookings demand shifts in accordance with concerns about the global economy, planners will have more weight in the negotiation process. Over the next two years, the impetus is on planners to demand significant change from venue partners. Just as with any other business, venues are at the whim of consumer demand and must respond to shifts in consumer mindsets. For planners, the biggest challenge is creating a united approach that paints sustainability as an unflinching expectation of market demand. 

Further Reading: Eventful News: The Fight Against Plastic

19 Trends Shacking Up Events in 2019

3. How Socio-Political Changes in Europe Are Impacting Events (PCMA)

TLDR 

In partnership with PCMA, a group of European conventions bureaus have released a new study analyzing the impact of economic and socio-political trends on Europe and North America as meetings destinations. The study interviewed planners, looking at both trends affecting the industry as a whole as well as how cities rank as destinations based on key buyer decision factors.

Chief among respondents’ concerns is the economy. A decade after the global financial crisis, ‘many fear that we are on the brink of another Eurozone showdown,’ says the study.” -Michelle Russell, PCMA

What does it mean for planners?

Here’s what surveyed planners had to say about some key areas:

  • Economy – What the study found was that the strength of the U.S. dollar, as well as the potential isolation of the U.K. by a “no-deal” Brexit is potentially pushing more international conferences into EU countries. 
  • Security – Surprisingly, security threats weren’t cited as a major concern by planners, perhaps because Europe and North America are stereotyped as being relatively safe.
  • Event Tech – Hybrid and online meetings, the Internet of Things (IoT), and 5G connectivity were considered to be amongst the most impactful technologies on the horizon. 
  • Sustainability – Planners aren’t just looking for venues and destinations that operate using more sustainable practices. They’re also looking for ways to shrink carbon footprints by providing digital meeting places and consolidate smaller meetings into singular large meetings that mitigate environmental impact.
  • Budget – Budget was not one of the first three factors considered by planners in answers, and small cities should market themselves accordingly. This means shifting the focus from savings to the benefits of easy access, venue availability, and regional expertise.

What’s next?

Moving forward, the industry is likely to become more comfortable with “digital” becoming a destination in itself — especially as connectivity progresses and sustainability takes more and more precedence amongst planners and attendees. Meanwhile, the industry will continue to see flux as major decisions unfold that may impact the global economy. Amongst those are the state of a brexit deal and a potential U.S. trade war with China. 

Further Reading: Europe as a Destination for Meetings & Conferences

4. 5 Mistakes People Make When Using Productivity Technology (Inc.)

TLDR 

With more events to plan, more complexity, and less time in a given day, event planners are no strangers to productivity apps. However, as John Hall reports, using these apps in the wrong way could be as much of a timesuck as not using them at all. And while there’s no catch-all solution, there are some basic guidelines that planners can follow to get the most out of their technology.

“It’s no surprise that, given the ubiquity of productivity tech and the lack of guidance on how to use it, people are making mistakes. It’s not always easy to tell exactly how much a certain piece of software can really improve your productivity (if it all).” -John Hall, President of Calendar

What does it mean for planners?

  1. Don’t expect the app that does everything – Expecting a single app to solve all of your productivity problems is only going to lead to disappointment.
  2. Avoid app overload – You can have too much of a good thing, and too many apps often equals too much time spent managing your tech as opposed to using it.
  3. Take advantage of connectivity – Perhaps the biggest asset of modern apps is the ability to synchronize with teammates and clients. If you’re keeping your app to yourself, you’re missing out on the most productive part.
  4. Give the numbers a story – Many apps spit back data about how much time you’re spending focusing on a given thing. However, it’s up to the user to spin the why behind those numbers and use it to spur true change.
  5. Meet your needs, not someone else’s – With so many reviews out there about tech apps, it’s easy to fall into why it worked for someone else. So much so that we forget to ask whether it’s going to work for ourselves.

What’s next?

Take a good, hard look at the apps you have on your phone and computer and ask yourself what they’re actually doing for you. Once you’ve cleaned out the stragglers, use your newfound time optimize the apps you’ve decided to keep. From there, keep these five tenants in mind and enjoy the perks of more productivity.

Further Reading: 27 Top Timesaving Event Planning Tricks

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Published September 5, 2019

Come back to our blog next Thursday for another roundup of the most important event news of the week! And, find last week’s event planning news about the possible economic downturn.