If several attempts had already been outlined in 2020, Convening Leaders 2021 was superior in bringing all of them together, with intersections of connectivity for a MICE revolution. It was quite clear that regardless of the nostalgia for the past or even the bliss of a pandemic-free world, the conference of the future will no longer be limited to a ballroom or an in-person conversation.
Confused? Ask the good people at the German Convention Bureau, who developed the “Future Meeting Space” project, to envision how people will meet in the future. The hybrid element was the key that opened many unknown doors, however, there are certainly several improvements to be made. As Paul Tambyah says in our pages, people attend international meetings to “network and interact”. The question will be how to make these multilayered experiments more efficient from an interaction point of view.
Let’s not forget the inclusion of the tech expert in your team. It will be the benchmark for any service package or marketing campaign. “The truth is that no company can survive without a technologist on its team,” tells us Ayesha Khanna in our interview.
For destinations, this new quid pro quo will be as drastic as it is vital for their market share. In a not-too-distant future, a city may be sharing a conference venue with three others around the globe, while broadcasting a completely different convention from its studios or displaying a simulation of a tradeshow at its convention centre.
Another major issue for buyers will be the bottom line of the event. Yes, technology is here but it is not free of charge. With so many software apps, event platforms and parallel investments, organisers will have to be strict with their balance sheets so as not to compromise their budgeting.
We all know that the industry is both fascinated and frightened by this huge leap. After all, it is a natural reaction. So, just as vigorously as we are dealing with this pandemic, it is time to embrace change with the same conviction. This “Smart Meetings Industry” won’t happen overnight... but it’s just around the corner!
By Marcel A.M. Vissers, HQ's editor-in-chief
Supported by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO) and the Interel Group, the global public affairs and association management consultancy, Headquarters Magazines serve the needs of international associations organising worldwide congresses.