Photo credit: Steve Pate-Newberry
Attendees at the California Society of Association Executives (CalSAE) Seasonal Spectacular opening session were given a heads-up about 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 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 changes that will result in the best events for attendees.