3 Dramatic Changes that Could Hit Event Industry in 2018

By JT Long • December 29, 2017

Photo credit: Steve Pate-Newberry
Photo credit: Steve Pate-Newberry

Attendees at the California Society of Association Executives (CalSAE) Seasonal Spectacular opening session were given a heads-up about event changes coming in the industry that could impact how they plan meetings in the coming year.

Get Ready for Change

Mike Dominguez, chief sales officer for MGM Resorts International, warned that the speed of change is coming faster than a lot of large organizations can prepare for it. “If you think you are moving fast enough, you are not moving fast enough.” In a world where Amazon is buying everything from grocery stores to online gaming networks just for the ability to market Prime memberships, could hotels be next in an attempt to access loyalty members? In a climate where demand for ballrooms is outpacing supply, this could have major implications.

Create Meaningful Experiences

One of the event changes already emerging is a shift of control over event scheduling from the organizer to the attendee. David Stone, vice president of sales and marketing for Crescent Event Productions, who calls his project managers “experience engineers,” says agendas will no longer be linear. Instead, attendees will answer polls to crowd-shape their experience and algorithms will suggest possible options based on ratings and attendance history.

Eric Hoffend, vice president at Freeman Company, stressed that planners need to recalibrate the meaning of “experiential.”

“Spinning a wheel in a booth is no longer enough,” he said. It has to be based on connecting with people on an emotional level, using all of the senses.

Watch the Fine Print

As the business climate changes, Deanne Vigil, regional vice president at HelmsBriscoe, advised paying close attention to contracts for things such as set-up fees for meeting rooms and meals, limitations on attrition rates and, a new one—urban fees.

The bottom line, all agreed, is the need to work together as partners to find solutions for all these event changes that will result in the best events for attendees.

About The Author

JT Long is content chief at Smart Meetings. She brings 25 years of experience in journalism and community-building and has written books on management and motivation. You can find her on Twitter @SmartMtgsJT.