event planning associations

Eventful News: Increasing Diversity, Adopting Technology, & Measuring Spend

The meetings industry has evolved significantly over the past five years, yet this week’s five stories show that the runway for improvement remains long and untracked. This week, we dive into the lack of diversity at conferences, the somewhat stagnated adoption of event technology, and the failure of events to consistently and accurately measure ROI. 

5 Event News Updates to Supercharge Your Week Including How to Add More Diversity to Events

1. What Will it Take to Improve Diversity at Conferences? (Harvard Business Review)

TLDR

At a recent event hosted by a powerful, national minority entrepreneurs’ network, Ruchika Tulshyan, a frequent speaker at conferences, was taken aback by the all-female panel. Why? Because while some may have applauded the fact that only women were on the panel, it didn’t seem to strike event organizers that the panel also represented a complete lack of racial diversity. 

We must undo the fallacy that the most confident or engaging speakers are the most competent in imparting knowledge and learning to your community. They’re often not. Instead, we need to fundamentally understand and accept how different perspectives and life experiences among speakers will bring a richer conversation to any conference, and as a result, encourage greater attendee participation from diverse and underestimated communities.” -Ruchika Tulshyan, Award-winning author & journalist

Here, she dives into the importance of fostering richer, more inclusive conversations, laying out eight steps for including more speakers from under-represented communities. 

What does it mean for planners?

In particular, planners can directly apply five of Ruchika’s eight steps when sourcing speakers for events:

  1. Put less weight on title – By looking at title as the chief determinant of worth, we underestimate the value of different experiences and points of view.
  1. Set quantifiable, aggressive goals – Putting the goals you want to achieve in terms of speaker diversity into number can make milestones more tangible.
  1. Be cognizant of where source recommendations – Asking for recommendations from homogenous sources can only lead to homogenous panels.
  1. Pay your speakers – Speaking for free isn’t an option for everyone, especially those from underprivileged communities.
  1. Let diverse speakers tackle issues other than diversity – Rather than having a diversity talk track, set an example through an inclusive model that allows diverse experts to cover the topics they know well.

What’s next?

By putting these five tips into practice, planners can continue making headway in creating more inclusive events. As the events we plan become more diverse, we can make the transition from aspiring to a more inclusive model to making it the norm across the industry. 

Further Reading: Ethical Issues in Event Planning

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2. The Events Sector is Poised for a Tech Explosion (Skift)

TLDR

Optimism was high among the 13,000 in attendance at IMEX America last week, where a clearly healthy industry looked in the mirror to see a picture of continuous growth and potential. While this is nothing new given the collective prosperity of events in recent years, one thing was new: The idea that engaging attendees may not be as challenging as planners have traditionally believed. It’s all thanks to a recent explosion in event technology, which has seen millions in recent investment.

In the next five years I think it’s going to explode. We’re in the early adopter phase. And this is just the next stage. I think it’ll become less of a conscious decision, and it will just get incorporated into what people now do to measure their sales and marketing.” -Michael Burns, Global Head of Sales & Marketing at Aventri

What does it mean for planners?

While new technology has exploded onto the scene, the same can’t be said for adoption. In part, because planners haven’t been able to gather the necessary data to make the case for technological investment. It’s a point of irony, as many of the companies who aren’t actively tracking return on investment for events meticulously track ROI for other forms of marketing.

What’s next?

As performance metrics become more common in the coming years, adoption will increase in tandem. Planners and event teams will have the data backing they need to make the case for new technologies, convincing stakeholders to free up more budget. With these new technologies in hand, events will have more tools at their disposal for engaging attendees, further boosting ROI for stakeholders and investors.

Further Reading: 4 Event Technology Trends Shaping the Future of Events

3. How Dreamforces Engages Attendees Long Before the Event (PCMA)

TLDR

In the modern world of events, engaging attendees begins before the event even starts — and it’s more complex than sending the age-old “What to Know Before You Go” email. To make it happen, major events are racking their collective brains for creative pre-event communications. 

However, the answer might be in a pre-event staple of Dreamforce — the massive annual user conference hosted by Salesforce. Using a weekly broadcast series, “The Road to Dreamforce,” the mega-event turns pre-event communication into on-demand entertainment.

We live in a last-minute world, as demonstrated by the way we behave as consumers. We wait to book hotel rooms until the night before we travel. We send colleagues urgent emails that require action before the end of the day. We put off buying holiday gifts until we have no choice but to pay for that next-day, priority shipping option. And many attendees approach business events with that procrastinator’s mindset.” -David McMillin, PCMA

What does it mean for planners?

“The Road to Dreamforce” takes a deep dive into programs, sessions, tips, and other practical information that both teases the event and provides value to those preparing to attend. For those unable to join in live, episodes are available to stream after 48 hours and important clips are highlighted on Dreamforce’s social media channels. Simply put, Dreamforce trades in the extra reading, instead replicating the type of video entertainment that dominates modern media consumption. 

What’s next?

The internet holds a wealth of tools that events of all sizes and budgets can use to engage attendees before the big weekend. And while many events may not have the resources to create an 11-episode video series, a little creativity can unearth other opportunities that fit seamlessly into attendees’ media consumption habits. Maybe it’s a Spotify playlist, maybe it’s a series of memes posted on social media channels, maybe it’s a podcast — whatever it is, the sky’s the limit for proactive planners and event marketers.

Further Reading: 4 Ways to Measure Audience Engagement at Live Events

4. Accor Launches New Sustainability-Focused Hotel Brand (Business Traveller)

TLDR

With the opening of the 52-room Greet Hotel Beaune in Burgundy, French-based hotel group Accor has launched the first property in a new sustainability-oriented brand. Greet hotels will be characterized by their commitment to community and environmental responsibility, featuring large communal areas, rooms for larger groups, and second-hand furnishings and decor sourced from sustainable suppliers. 

Accor plans to open 300 Greet hotels by 2030. However, each will be non-standardized, allowing properties to craft and maintain their own unique identities.

French hotel group Accor has launched the first property under its new sustainability-oriented brand Greet. The 52-room Greet Hotel Beaune in Burgundy offers a restaurant, outdoor pool, large garden and games room.” -Jenni Reid, Business Traveler

What does it mean for planners?

The move by Accor shows attention to demand across customer segments for sustainability, authenticity, and face-to-face connection. It’s an illustration of the responsive nature of the market, and the power of the consumer to initiate change. As a prominent and lucrative segment for hotels, groups and meetings can use their collective power to actively call for this type of positive innovation across the industry.

What’s next?

It’s only a matter of time before competing brands take a page out of the Accor playbook and create their own sustainability-focused chains. Over the next two to three years, expect to see more and more variations of the concept becoming widely available in major cities in the U.S. as well.

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5. Meetings & Conventions Releases Biennial MICE Spend Survey (Meetings & Conventions)

TLDR

Meetings & Conventions has released its third biennial Meeting Spend Survey, shedding light on the MICE market. The survey of 136 respondents dives into expected budget increases, changes in cost, meeting frequency, and more, taking the pulse of growth versus expenditure over the past two years.

How do your meeting costs compare with averages across the industry? How much are meeting planners spending on hotels? How many calculate the return on investment for their events? These are among the insights revealed in M&C’s third biennial Meeting Spend Survey.” -Sarah J.F. Braley, Meetings & Conventions

What does it mean for planners?

Some highlights from the survey include:

  • Average yearly expenditure for MICE meetings rose 5% over the past two years.
  • 50% of respondents expect their budgets to increase in 2020, while 40% expect them to remain the same.
  • Food and beverage remain the largest expenditure for meetings, taking up an average of 34% of budgets.
  • The average cost per attendee has risen 12% over the past two years.
  • Only 28% report that they calculate ROI for all of their meetings.

What’s next?

With overall costs and cost per attendee on the rise, the question becomes whether budgets increases will keep pace. However, with only 28% of respondents calculating ROI for their meetings, many are missing the tangible numbers necessary to make the case for more budget.

Further Reading: 15+ Event Ideas to Help You Wow Attendees on a Budget

Published September 26, 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 IMEX here.

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