EXPO Next: The Future of Meetings is Now

BALTIMORE—The meetings industry must be prepared to change today, not five years from now, to meet best practices of the future, according to keynote speakers at EXPO Next, EXPO magazine’s first annual conference for the professional event planning community.

Opening up the day and a half conference on the evolution of the convention, tradeshow and exposition industries was Joe English, creative director of experiential marketing for Intel. He urged the event planners in attendance to change, or move over.

“I’m talking in a cautionary tone, and I want to raise the alarm to you,” English told the audience of about 200. “It’s time to let go if you’ve been doing the same thing for a long time. The phrase, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’—that’s the dumbest thing you can do.”

English listed the example of the technology event Comdex, which ran from 1979-2003 and is no longer in existence as an in-person event—something English said was a testament to competition. He warned event planners in the room that the evolution of events is necessary now, not tomorrow.

“It doesn’t matter how big you are or how good you are—you could find your show going the way of Comdex,” he said.

English listed four principles for meeting evolution that event planners should be exploring in order to stay competitive.

  • ·      Be relevant
  • ·      Encourage innovative experiences
  • ·      Deliver intimacy
  • ·      Let go

At Intel events and others, English says the keynote is used to deliver the vision of an event, fostering an innovative and intimate experience. Bringing engaging sessions, product demonstrations and contests that are directly relevant to an audience will keep an event a must-attend show. Letting attendees sign up for appointments with presenters to discuss specific questions was another example English provided to stay competitive.

Relevance & ’Return on Emotion’

“We are putting a huge emphasis into this program because it is so important,” he said “You need to know what’s important to the audience. Relevance is the key to the rules of live experiences today.”

Stephane Raymond, producer of brand experiences for the Moment Factory, echoed the sentiments of English during the afternoon keynote by encouraging planners to challenge the fundamental notion of the conferences and events business.

“It’s worth a shot,” said Raymond. “ROE—return on emotion. Emotion is the key to success and creating strong experiences.”

Raymond says that by creating an amazing and unforgettable experience, and blending technology with emotional connections to an event, a long-lasting impact on an event and brand can be had.

“Don’t forget who your audience is, and don’t rely on technology, but see what technology can bring to the experience,” he added.

EXPO thanks our partner, Future Show, led by Bob Hughes, for its consultation on the design and décor of Expo Next.