This is a fascinating time to be in the event space. So much is happening to impact us – from so many different directions: social, technical, economic and global. And yes, our job is to stay on top of it and determine how the trends are going to impact our planning for this year and the future year events we are booking all while training our staffs and advising our leadership and clients! Welcome to 2011!
First, we are all trying to determine how to best engage our potential audiences relevantly with our programming and our communication. Which platforms do we use? Do we push or do we pull? How do we plug into other communities where our potential audiences may be playing? How do we insure our programming meets their needs? Needs analysis now continues right up to show time with the possibility of “open program slots” for user driven content on site. Social media – yes, no or maybe? How do we keep the dynamism of the event going year round?
Second, the impact of technology – virtual and hybrid components – which is right for my audience and potential audiences? How do we address leadership concerns about cannibalism? What’s the right pricing model if we go this route? Who’s the best partner to assist us? What are others doing and what’s working?
Third, prices are climbing – again! How does this impact my negotiating and with all the flux in the market, will my sponsors and exhibitors still be there? Their financial contribution both direct and indirect to the value of my meetings is huge. Who are the best partners for me in this time of uncertainty?
Finally, how does the continued globalization impact our audience and our events? Have you seen what’s happening in China, India or Brazil? Can your group afford to NOT be planning events in those regions?
For TMG and most of our clients the answers are: yes, yes, back to basics and yes! Yes, we have to be better and more creative at building, maintaining and interacting with our audience communities everywhere they are engaging. Yes, we have to begin or continue integrating virtual and hybrid components into our events to protect the audience we have and to find and engage new audiences. Negotiating in these times is back to basics: know the value of your events as best you can and find the best fit with a partner you trust to work with you over the long haul. Get closer still to your funding partners and exhibitors. And yes, go global and get global. See it, understand it and plan how to bring that energy to your group or take your group to that energy. Much of our future is being developed in those BRIC regions.
Use/build your network to find the right partners and talk to everyone! Attend the national meetings, ask questions and build your own community for the answers/input you need. CVBs, NSOs, ASAE, MPI, PCMA and your colleagues are the best places to start.