How trends and innovation will fuel the future of meetings and events

MPI keynote at IMEX America

IMEX America begins packed programme of expert education

“Invention should be celebrated,” declared Pablos Holman, at yesterday morning’s MPI keynote at IMEX America.

How meeting planners can innovate in order to meet future developments and trends is a key theme at IMEX America, currently taking place in Las Vegas.

This key theme is being explored through the daily MPI keynotes as well as throughout the comprehensive education programme and showfloor activities.

The importance of innovation via technology as a route to addressing global issues formed the core of today’s keynote, Innovate or die trying—from the mind of a world-renown hacker. World-renowned hacker Pablos Holman, who delivered the session, sponsored by Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, is one of the rare technologists who can both understand and explain new technologies and their potential.

Inventions which address some of the world’s biggest problems form the core of the projects at the Intellectual Ventures Lab where Pablos’ team has taken on problems ranging from hurricane suppression to brain surgery and disease eradication to nuclear energy. As Holman explains, ‘the people who have the problems are not the people who have the solutions – the two need to join together.

The power of innovation struck a chord with many of the attendees at the interactive session. Monika Radicevic from Intercontinental Hotels Toronto confirms ‘I constantly innovate in my work – it’s crucial for business. If you don’t innovate – you lag behind!’

Katherine Fox Ehlert from Santa Fe Community College adds: ‘I teach my students to constantly question and challenge in order to learn. I love Pablos’ approach – using invention to tackle the major problems in our world.’

In the current evolving business landscape, adaptability and creativity are more crucial than ever according to keynote and ‘change agent’ Jay Samit in his address, Disrupt you! Strategies for billion dollar success in this era of endless innovation. In yesterday’s session, sponsored by Visit Milwaukee, Visit Pittsburgh, and Travel Portland, he stressed that business leaders must anticipate change to create opportunities for professional success and personal satisfaction. ‘You’ll never discover the next big idea sitting at your desk. Disruption comes from exploring outside your comfort zone,’ he explains.’

Sam Torgerson from Viceroy Snowmass, who attended the session agrees: ‘It’s important to look at the long term, not just the short term, and in order to remain relevant and competitive, innovation is key – not just for my business, but also for me. I see my visit to IMEX as a valuable investment for my long term objectives as well as meeting my short term needs.’

‘Millennials are increasingly impacting our world and the way in which we live. Professionals from across the generations need to embrace this and adopt a flexible attitude as Jay explains. In fact change and flexibility are the two words I use most in my work life,’ adds Sandie Holley, North Carolina Association of Pharmacists.

Innovation is also being explored across the show floor. New for this year is a series of show floor tours enabling planners to gain the advice of experts on how to use how tech, innovation and trends to create compelling experiences. Led by Glenn Thayer of Emcee Squared, the group met exhibitors such as Quick Mobile who advised on using technology to turn delegates from attendees to participants in order to boost engagement. CNTV explained how video can be used all year round as part of an event’s marketing campaign of customised content and the trend towards live video.

How shifting trends will impact meetings and hotels in 2017 was the hot topic debated by a panel of five meetings and hospitality leaders led by Dan Berger from social tables. Experts from Maritz Global Events, Accor, Hyatt and MGM Resorts International discussed how meetings will change and what will drive growing demand in the year ahead. This covered delegates’ expectations for personalisation, right down to food and beverage, as well as keeping up with evolving technology and addressing security needs.

Experts also discussed the trend towards increasing collaboration between venue and planners as delegates’ appetite for as customised experience grows, as well as the need for ‘white space’ in between sessions for relaxation and networking. Karen Ruiz from Au Courant events who attended the session comments: ‘This session covered ways in which we, as planners, can balance an increasing workload with the need to deliver an innovative and personal experience for delegates at every one of our events.’