Eventful News: The Fight Against Plastic, Fake Conferences, & the Words We Use

Change is imminent, and constant — but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. This week’s roundup of stories focuses on changes both big and small that all have an impact on the future of event planning. Some are ahead of the curve. Some are long overdue. But most can’t come soon enough. 

1. IHG Gives Mini Toiletries the Flush (BBC)

TLDR

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) — who owns chains such as InterContinental, Kimpton, & Crowne Plaza — has pledged to eliminate small, plastic toiletries bottles across its portfolio by the year 2021. Eliminating these common waste culprits from its 843,000 rooms is just one part IHG’s larger goal of reducing its carbon footprint 6% by next year. Its high-end resort brand Six Senses has even said it will go completely plastic-free across its whole supply chain by 2022.

“We collectively as an industry have to lead where governments are not necessarily giving the leadership to make a difference…Five years ago it was a tick-the-box exercise. Today it’s follow-up meetings going through in detail what we are doing about our carbon footprint.” -Keith Barr, Chief Executive at IHG

What does it mean for planners?

Planners are on the hunt for venues committed to sustainability. After all, events are feeling the same pressure from attendees as hotels are feeling from guests. With IHG banning plastic toiletries and Marriott banning straws last year, it’s a signal that major chains are seeking out ways to get off the hard stuff. 

What’s next? 

Today, it’s plastic toiletries. But as the in-room experience becomes more and more eco-friendly, tomorrow could bring sweeping changes to group business as well. One such area could be food waste at meetings, which is often largely a result of F&B minimums. Who knows? Maybe major chains will start getting creative so they can eliminate these minimums and recoup their earnings in other ways.

Further Reading: 7 ways to make your events more eco-friendly

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2. 5 Phrases That Make People Discount What You’re Saying (Fast Company)

TLDR

When it comes to interacting with clients, suppliers, or your team, strong communication is key. But many of us are in the habit of using common words or phrases that could be undermining what we’re saying. This Fast Company article lays out five such phrases that could be holding you back from closing better deals and creating better relationships. 

“Words are powerful things, and some words and phrases can really have a negative kind of energy.” -Communication coach Alan Samuel Cohen

What does it mean for planners?

Planners should avoid using these five words in sentences:

  • “But” – Using but as a conjunction is counter effective because it signals that you’ve moved on to something contrary to the first part of the sentence when often that’s not the case.
  • “This might be stupid” – This self-depricating language instantly gives the listener permission to dismiss your ideas.
  • “With all due respect” – This phrase signals that what follows is actually probably not respectful at all. 
  • “I’m so busy” – Saying that you’re busy makes people reluctant to take up your time or may make them feel like you’re being too self-important.
  • “Try” – At the end of the day, saying that you’ll try to make it happen leaves people with doubts that it will actually happen. 

What’s next? 

Policing what we say is hard work and takes a certain level of exhausting self-awareness. We may not be able to catch ourselves every time, but just the awareness of these phrases can be a great starting point for more effective communication. 

3. What’s the Most In-Demand Skill of the Future? (Inc)

In a near future where robots can diagnose patients more accurately than doctors, and many everyday jobs are gobbled up by artificial intelligence, how can we keep ourselves relevant and inexpendable? Inc argues that tomorrow’s most important skill may arguably be emotional intelligence, along with other soft skills such as problem solving, creativity, ability to deal with ambiguity, and communication. 

“The Industrial Revolution required muscle from its workers. The Information Age traded muscle for mental capacity, which explains the rise of “knowledge workers.” The future will require workers to be emotionally intelligent.” -Ryan Jenkins, millennial & gen-Z speaker

What does it mean for event planners?

Planners are uniquely positioned to weather the AI revolution due to the nature of the job. It’s impossible to plan an incredible event without creativity, on-the-fly problem solving skills that put out fires, or the ability to communicate with suppliers, teammates, and stakeholders. In this light, planners should focus on honing these uniquely human skills above all others.

What’s next?

The AI revolution won’t be here tomorrow, or the next day, but it is most definitely on the horizon. When the time comes, planners who are able to delegate mundane, everyday tasks to robots will free themselves up to put more time and energy toward connecting on a human-to-human level and incredible, creative experience design. 

Further Reading: Learn more about augmented reality event planning.

4. Why is Airbnb Missing the Mark With Corporate Planners? (Skift)

TLDR

Airbnb has steadily grown its popularity with individual business travelers. However, it still hasn’t made much headway with event planners, even despite releasing a tool for meeting planners and groups. However, new search functionality will now allow users to toggle between whether they are traveling for business or leisure.

“I think it’s their fear of change. I think that’s typically what keeps most industries stuck. Innovation is not easy to embrace.” -Mohamad Al Sadoon, Marketing Director at Airbnb partner Stay 22

What does it mean for planners? 

Ensuring the quality of rooms for their groups has been a chief concern of planners, and an area where hotels bring more consistency to the table than Airbnb. With the new search functionality, the homeshare giant will allow planners and attendees to narrow down more viable options. For planners looking to get attendees out of the hotel and deliver the authentic experiences they desire, this could be a major step in the right direction.

What’s next?

Despite the new search functionality, Airbnb still can’t deliver two of the biggest reasons planners have kept their business with hotels. Planners can’t negotiate discounts with Airbnb on group blocks, nor do they get commissions on rooms booked. These two factors will ultimately keep the lion’s share of group bookings with hotels, at least in the immediate future.

5. The Rise of Fake Conferences & How We Can Fight Them (CMW)

TLDR

Predatory conferences are a real threat in the scholarly industry, and as they’re becoming more sophisticated, they’re simultaneously becoming less easy to spot. Tech-savvy counterfeit websites are flooding the internet and taking advantage of early-career researchers, who are desperate to get published and land speaking engagements. However, these predatory conferences are becoming so sophisticated, they’re baiting seasoned researchers now as well. 

Left unchecked, predatory events will damage our community’s trust in the legitimacy of conferences. We’re not yet at a point where established conference organisers are saying, ‘our numbers are down 20% because these guys have stolen our delegates.’ Or, ‘we’re down because people who’d normally come don’t know what they can trust.’  But, I think it’s only a matter of time before we start experiencing the fallout.” -Paul Killoran, CEO of Ex Ordo

What does it mean for planners?

For planners in this sector, the increase in predatory conferences threatens to hurt the legitimacy of scholarly conferences as a whole. What was once an edge-of-the-internet is often masquerading right in front of our eyes. As scholars start to lose trust in conferences, the industry will start to see backlash — although it has yet to happen in a quantifiable sense.

What’s next?

Earlier in 2019, the Federal Trade Commission fined OMICS Publishing — a well-known source of predatory publishing and conferences — $50 million. However, experts like author of the CMW article, Paul Killoran, argue that the legal route won’t win the battle. Researchers need tools that can help them quickly and clearly assess the reputation and legitimacy of a given conference. 

Further Reading: Create better b2b events and conferences with these examples.

Published August 1, 2019

Come back to our blog next Thursday for another roundup of the most important event news of the week!

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