More specifically in event, what will change?
Existing event formats will change, towards much more flexible formats, more interactive. The idea that an event is here and now will be substituted by a more “liquid” one. An event can take place over much more time than the 3 days of congress, with complementary activities. It can take place in the congress centre and in 12 other venues (as well as online, by the way!). So DMO’s will have to think beyond the congress centre and the three days, and help event owners conceive and organize events in new venues, new formats, new timings.
Mass personalization. This is highly related to the previous point: the trend towards people centricity and maximum adaptation to each person will continue and everyone will design their own events (timings, activities, sessions, diets, etc.). So events will require personalization technology, and the ability to organize (or have someone organize) many new types of sessions, which will blend the traditional suit-and-tie conference with the social moments. Everything is about connection and learning, whatever the format.
Flatter structure in meetings industry. Today medical societies and PCO’s (or corporates and their event agencies) are the kings of the game. Tomorrow’s star players can come from anywhere, an online community, a media, a startup… or a circus company (C2 was co-created by Cirque du Soleil. On which CVB’s agenda was that????). So DMO’s will need a very broad view and ability to connect with people who are definitely not yet in the events industry.
Events are having a more complete importance, tied to economic development plan and taking care of its legacy. Yesterday’s event could come, fill hotels, provoke traffic jams… and go home. The notion of what the event leaves in the destination will be increasingly important (see the CSR point at the beginning of this article). It is getting there, but still as a nice value added if you can do it, not as a must-have by any means.
So how does this impact the role of convention bureaus / DMO’s?
- Agility: be ready to change your models at any time. The 5-year plan will still be useful but will have to be complemented with a by-yearly review, an updated analysis of the market situation, of who are the dynamic and the lagging players… Undoubtedly some convention bureaus are not quite up-to-date there, just as many public entities. Principles of agile management will be on their booklist…
- From tourism to eco development to city dev. Today most convention bureau belong to a tourism office (and in part, to hotels). Some are starting to change (an example is Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development, not only focusing on events but also on economic development), but there will be no doubt tomorrow: the entity which bring in events will have an economic mission: bring investment deals, help local companies strike partnerships, contribute to the visibility of local companies, doctors, startups and universities, and even stimulate culture. Indeed, this could go beyond economic development, and to city development, as events are a powerful generator of education, branding, sustainability initiatives, public health, culture, and event social help (think job integration for instance).
- Market monitoring, partnerships and even investments. Since destinations tomorrow will compete to host the coolest events, better identify them before they are too high in demand. You can imagine how fighting to get the MCW can be merciless, one it is so solidly established. How about identifying, helping, maybe financing tomorrow’s winning events? This would take more of an incubator culture, and a long-term view by DMO’s. But it could be very powerful.
- Temporary teams. Another key skill will be to manage specific projects to capture events, including partnerships with players from the industry in question. DMOs will be networks which bring in industry knowledge when necessary, for instance collaborating with an association, a NGO, a research centre, and a media to help grow (or even create) a promising event. This is a specific skill: that of knowing how to rapidly establish and manage networks of partners.
So tomorrow the DMO could be integrated to the city council and have as a mandate to just help develop and improve the city, in keeping with the city’s core priorities (economic, cultural, social, educational…). There will be challenges, as DMOs are still heavily influenced by hoteliers and a touristic culture, but this prospect is absolutely thrilling. Maybe the future won’t be about boring uniformed inter-galactic soldiers, but rather about cool events bringing prosperity and building community. Are you ready?
Credit where credit is due
This is inspired by a working session I had the pleasure of moderating, in which participated Kai Hattendorf (UFI), Melissa Ow (Singapore Tourism Board), Stephen Ho (Hyatt Hotels), Steve Armitage (Auckland Economic Development, Tourism and Events), Epi Ludvik (Crowdsourcing Week) and Martin Enauld (C2). It is not a transcript and does not necessarily represent the views of the participants, so you can assume that what you don’t agree with is from me, and what you do agree with is from them. And behind this session was the mastermind of that great conference, Oscar Cerezales from MCI whom we should thank for provoking that type of debate.