Professori Rob Davidson: Viisi trendiä, viisi vuotta

Tapahtuma-alan professori, britti ja hurmaava herrasmies Rob Davidson saapuu puhujaksi omaan 25-vuotisjuhlaamme ensi viikolla. Kysyimme Robilta muutaman ajankohtaisen kysymyksen tapahtuma-alan ilmiöistä. Rob linjaa viisi tärkeintä trendiä viidelle tulevalle vuodelle sekä kertoo, mikä innostaa häntä juuri nyt. 

What will be main trends in the event industry in the next 5 years?

1. In the next five years, I think that these will be some of the trends that will change the face of the business events industry: Much more variety in the venues that we use for meetings and other business events. There will be fast-growing interest, among meeting planners and meetings participants, in holding business events in ‘unique’, ‘unusual’ or ‘non-traditional’ venues, from museums, castles and other tourist attractions to converted warehouses and even in people’s homes, such as trendy loft apartments. These are the types of venues that excite and inspire participants and give the event the feeling of being a ‘show’, rather than just a chore and a bore. Finland offers a rich supply of such venues.2. Exciting new formats for meetings. There will be a trend away from people being regarded as ‘attendees’ towards them being ‘participants’ with a more active role in meetings and conferences. New meetings formats such as ‘open-space’ will be increasingly used to give participants more of an active ‘voice’ at business events, making meetings and conferences more productive and efficient for all. These new formats will recognise that not only speakers but also participants have valuable expertise and knowledge to share at business events.3. Technology will be used more to increase the life-span of business events and extend their reach beyond the actual venue. The social media and other applications will be used to create excitement and engagement with events, long before the face-to-face element, by allowing participants to reach out to each other in advance of the event and begin the conversations that they will continue at the actual conference. The same tools will allow participants to continue their discussions after the day or days of the actual face-to-face event.4. Hybrid events will become more widespread, enabling people to participate in conferences even when they cannot physically attend the event. Business events will show that they have a heart as well as a head. Meetings and incentive trips will offer the participants more opportunities to ‘make a difference’ to the communities living and working in the destinations where their events take place. Millennial participants and planners in particular wish to reach out to certain groups in the community and take time out of their business events to raise funds or offer hands-on assistance for disadvantaged and under-privileged groups, or to do something positive to improve the environment. Helping local people or the local environment in this way will be an important element of the Corporate Social Responsibility aspect of business events.5. We will discover the benefits of multi-sensory events – using all five of our senses at business events, to make meetings more effective and efficient. We know from advances in neuroscience that the more senses are stimulated during an event, the more memorable and productive those events will become. We are already knowledgeable about the use of audio and visual stimuli, but there are the three other senses, touch, smell and taste, which we can stimulate in ways to make our events more successful. 

What is the most powerful emotional experience you have had in an event?

A few years ago, I was invited to make an opening speech at a large event in Spain, organised by the Costa del Sol Convention Bureau. It was an awards ceremony for the meetings industry, and it was held at the Plaza de Toros in Ronda, the oldest bullring in Spain. The organisers particularly asked me to give a special mention for the mentally disabled children from a local school, who had made the beautiful table decorations that were placed on every table in the venue that evening.It was a very emotional experience for me to inform the audience of this simple contribution to our event, from those children who were far less fortunate than most of the people assembled in that venue for a glittering evening of fun and spectacle. I could see that the audience too were very moved to be reminded that not far from our glamorous evening of champagne, fine food and top-quality entertainment were children who lacked the privileges and opportunities that many of us took for granted. I will never forget that moment.

What inspires you at the moment – professionally?

I am most inspired by the knowledge that our industry is becoming much more professionalised and much more widely recognised as a distinct sector that makes an important contribution to the business, political and cultural life of nations. We are maturing as an industry and becoming more confident about the role we play and the value that we add to society.I am proud to have played a part in this important process, through my former role as a Professor of Conference Management in various European universities over the past 15 years. All over the world, more and more young people are choosing to study subjects such as Business Events and Conference and Congress Management in universities, where they can gain theoretical and practical knowledge of our industry and how it operates.Most of my former students are now in positions of authority in our industry, and it is always inspiring for me to meet them at trade shows and other events, and to hear how they are progressing in their careers. This always makes me extremely optimistic for the future of the events industry.


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