When “unpredictable” is the new buzzword for the economy, everyone in the meetings and events industry should be a little nervous.
We have been through cutbacks, recessions, governances, regulations, and threats from both Mother Nature and other humans, all forever changing our ability to deliver hospitality to our guests in the way we (and our clients) feel they are most deserving of. Yet, as humans, we still travel, meet, attend events, and celebrate all that life brings us.
These events are often planned by teams who bear a great deal of responsibility while having little control over the actions of the many supplier partners it takes to build an event, and the guests – welcome and unwelcome – who attend.
So how do we deal with this changing industry while having one of the most stressful jobs in the world? We put our faith in the power of events to educate, entertain and unite during disruptive times.
The current state of the industry
As an industry, we have been forced to rise to meet a whole new set of demands from clients, ranging from more scrutiny on budgets to not only providing creative solutions to space design, but also bearing responsibility for creating secure spaces that drive measurable business results, in less time and often with fewer resources than at any other time in our history. We can no longer rely on being seen as the experts, because in this digital age, everyone can become an expert, a spokesperson and a judge.
There are many event and meeting professionals who have been doing this for decades, and whose experience is equal to that of many of our senior executive clients, yet we typically work longer hours for less pay. We are told to “work smarter, not harder,” but that would require our clients to never make changes or deviate from the plans we start out with to deliver amazing branded, memorable and meaningful experiences. Fundamentally, none of the above are going to change.
We also now work in a sharing economy, where every imaginable service or product is available somewhere on the globe to ‘rent’ or ‘share,’ giving each less value. We are expected to deliver more personalized, customized experiences, where each guest feels they had their own pathway through an event, and finds sharable moments they will send to both the event community and their network external to our event.
We plan for the positive and respond immediately to any mediocre or negative, while still maintaining the flow of an event that may be for 10, 100 or 10,000 people. We work thoughtfully to create spaces where guests can be comfortable, whether an omnivore or vegan, if they run marathons or require mobility assistance, if they are 16 or 60, have joined us from any variety of cultural backgrounds and are an extrovert, introvert or ambivert.
Many of us are very, very good at our jobs, and continue to do it just because we love it – the idea generation, the pressure cooker environments, and the smiles on the faces of people learning, sharing, connecting, winning, presenting, and watching. We just can’t get enough.
What do we have to look forward to next?
If you are reading any other industry communications, we can expect more of the same. Technology will continue to be a part of our daily lives, disruption will be the norm, and transparency will remain critical. But we are human, and with this comes adaptability, resilience, optimism in the face of challenges, the willingness to work hard, and hope.
With events, we have the power to build communities that together have a strength no one person or one voice has and the power to create new stories and deliver messages that resonate, moments our guests can capture and take into the world with them. Event teams have the power of collaboration – to create together what no one person or entity can create alone. We do this because we believe events make a difference during disruptive times. They do.