Industry Insights

Time's Up

By Shannon Williams, ProMag Group Editor

We could say we are lucky to work in a sector that is dominated by women. Unlike many other industries that are led by ‘powerful’ men that are plagued with horrendous stories of sexism, abuse and harassment against minorities, the events and travel industry is full of women of different race, age, sexual orientation and socio-economic backgrounds. Because of this, we could say we are lucky to not have to face the same kinds of discrimination as less-diverse industries. Right?

Change it up for 2018

By Sue Sullivan, Conference & Incentives New Zealand chief executive

Kia ora

Happy New Year and welcome to 2018.  Another new year is upon us. They seem to come round with great speed, and this says something about the pace at which we work. With it come the traditional New Year resolutions, some of which will already be broken. Others are being adhered to with real intent.

This year, 2018 I have only one - change. A very broad resolution, many have said when I shared it. Change encompasses all aspects of life - personal and professional. Bold is what some have said, even more so when it is documented in a publication. To me it is about reviewing what has gone on in the past, looking at where things have settled, building on the successes and changing up some things in preparation for the future.

Connect me now

By Stu Freeman, ProMag Publisher

Attending conferences where the main topic is the future of conferences can be like having a foot in two separate worlds.

For a number of years now there has been plenty of talk about video conferencing, increasingly sophisticated registration systems and more latterly exhibition and conference apps.

Changing conversations

Vinyl records are the fastest growing category of music today. Who would have thought it? People still go to the movies (wasn’t television going to put
an end to that?) and if you are reading this column there is a good chance you are holding a paper magazine in your hands (though it is also on our website).

I was at a travel trade conference recently where a speaker pointed out that it is actually cool to have a travel agent. ‘There is widespread recognition among people now that agents are adding to the equation and that having a good travel agent among the professionals in your world is bene cial,’ said Andrew Burnes the CEO of helloworld Travel.

Space still an events frontier


With the International Convention Centre in Auckland rising from the ground, progression in Christchurch and movement in both Wellington and Queenstown, it may seem strange that people would still be talking about an acute lack of event space in New Zealand in the medium to long-term.

However, in researching the exhibition feature for this month’s Meeting Newz it is clear that the need for more flat floor space, attached to conference centres, is still a major issue for New Zealand.

Practitioners in the field point out that a trend internationally is for large multi-tiered events that cater for both face-to-face interaction and various educational and entertainment needs.

The disrupt button

The meetings industry has long recognised the threat and opportunities of disruptors, which is perhaps why it has prospered for so long.

Talk of video conferencing, Skype, even emails and texts overtaking the need for face-to-face interaction has long diminished – in part because the industry has embraced such technologies and brought them into their own mix.

But that doesn’t mean people who survive in the industry should be complacent – successful business events will continue to keep an eye on how people can engage. In short the question is why are these people listening at all (or not listening as the case may be)?

Delegates need a real reason to attend these days but beyond that a successful planner (be they corporate or association-based) needs to ponder the very reason for the event to exist. Why would a busy, often distracted attendee want to engage with this content at all?

A lot of thinking is being put into the ‘festivalisation’ of conferences. This moves away from asking people to move outside after cocktails and watch a fireworks display – more it is about exciting the senses before, during and after the business sessions. This is about ensuring that people are learning but that they are also enjoying the experience and having different senses engaged - or different buttons pushed if you like.

Have great minds together in a panel discussion, throw in some virtual reality right in the middle of the discussion, have a start-up pitch in the relevant industry sector as one of the business sessions, have an impromptu music performance.

This sort of approach is only a disruptor if you’re not doing it (and your competitors are).

Stu Freeman