Convention planners of the future are in need of greater clarity and consistency of strategic thought and action, says Fast Future Research’s Convention 2020 Phase One “Pathfinder Report.” The report, which was released at this year’s IMEX Frankfurt conference, identifies the drivers of change and emerging strategic challenges the meetings industry may face over the next decade. Its findings were drawn from expert interviews, workshops and online surveys.
“The report lays out a clear roadmap of critical decisions and choices that will help ‘future proof’ businesses,” says Carina Bauer, CEO of IMEX. “We need to become as good at strategic thinking as we are at operational delivery.”
Rohit Talwar, the project director and CEO of Fast Future, says it’s important to have a clear event strategy that relates to your business model from the beginning. While it’s fine to be a low cost, no frills provider, it’s not a good business move to change this position halfway through the event.
“Ensure that every action and decision is consistent with [your] strategy,” Talwar says. “Be brave enough to say ‘no’ to business that doesn’t fit your capabilities.”
The report also identifies other strategic imperatives, such as developing a board of directors who are outward looking and future focused, and recruiting top-level talent who can understand how your client’s own business strategies are evolving. Managing technology and the data generated from events are other top priorities. By analyzing the data and creating “reusable knowledge,” planners can ensure future events have lasting value.
The report also points to a need for creating new revenue streams and sharing financial risk with event partners. Rather than paying rental fees to a conference center, for example, a show organizer might suggest paying the venue a percentage of the attendee conference fees and hotel rebate.
Talwar says that due to the current economic climate, planners have had to react quickly to change, which makes them more efficient operationally, but does not help them plan for future crises.
“The learning from businesses that performed better in the downturn and recovered faster is that they devote time and effort to understanding the drivers of change and develop strategies which anticipate those changes,” Talwar says.
To read the full report, click here.