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).