I am very excited to share with you this guest blog post by Julius Solaris from the Event Manager Blog ‘More, more and more: how the events industry got it all wrong’. This article has significantly influenced how I organise my events and think about the events I attend, and I can highly recommend to anyone who works in the events industry to read it because it contains important advice about why less is actually more. Going for quality over quantity will help you add more value to your delegates and organise more successful and impactful events that have a higher purpose.
Now, every time I see an event website claiming ‘1,000+ speakers/ sessions’, it makes me cringe because it is fundamentally wrong. No attendee will have time during the several days of a conference to attend such an extensive programme, and this aim doesn’t add any value to any of the stakeholders. Offering large choice doesn’t translate to better events and Julius brings this point across very well! A must read!!
Festivalisation of events is a concept widely discussed in the past two years among corporate event professionals. According to a 2017 Skift megatrends report, ‘The festivalization of meetings trend started with the multidisciplinary programming at SXSW and TED, bringing together thought leaders from different sectors to share their views on driving change in a new era of global connectivity.’ South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, has been running since 1987, so certainly the concept is not new, but as we in the events industry love using new terminology every few years, the term ‘festivalisation’ is the new ‘it’ term for innovating in the corporate event space.
After being introduced myself only last year to the concept of ‘festivalisation of events’ at the ITB Berlin MICE Forum, with speakers from three events — Bits & Pretzels, Best of Events and CEBIT (which unfortunately was cancelled after the 2018 edition), I’ve had the chance to attend another event recently which makes a business case for ‘festivalisation.’ The event — KeyFrame — took place in Hamburg from 28 February–3 March 2019 and is a perfect example of how an innovative event format for the right audience and in the right city can be seamlessly executed to provide a fruitful ground for creatively, engagement, learning and networking.
Last Friday, I opened my LinkedIn page and saw a post from Andy Hammond, Director at Elite Event Connections and founder of the Events Industry Elite group on Facebook (currently with 260 members), concerning what happened at IBTM in Barcelona this year. Since the show, which took place from 27–29 November 2018, several event professionals who attended have been reporting about their negative experience and stories of the rife crime this year at key event locations: FIRA Barcelona (event venue), Opium Club (where the evening networking took place) and hotels, where a traveller was robbed while checking-in. IBTM is organised by Reed Travel Exhibitions.
The Events Industry Elite group on Facebook, which Andy founded and moderates, was the first media outlet that picked up on this event, and group members were sharing their stories and cautioning other members to be careful, to leave valuables at the hotel and be vigilant. It was not a case of only one theft but seemed rather to be an organised group of criminals targeting IBTM participants.
This year I made a decision: to attend events that are not just for event professionals, and search for inspiration beyond the industry. Since the inception of my blog in 2011, I have focused heavily on industry events, with very few exceptions. Now, however, I find myself often criticising our own ways of organising events and conducting business. That sounds rather unusual, given that we are expected to be the leaders; the movers and shakers. Is that not the case?
I remember the early days, when I immersed myself in the industry, and every article, publication, event, and familiarisation trip offered a revelation about this wonderful industry. Few things have changed since 2011, and I have now reached a point where I wish to progress my personal development, and explore other, broader business fields that boost the global MICE industry and local economies.
Events industry is not only about beautiful venues, exciting destinations and smiling people. Unfortunately there is also a dark side to it, one that we almost never talk about between peers and in the press. But times are changing, and people are more open to talk about taboo topics, like sexual harassment in a professional setting. The change that brought the society to acknowledge and terminate sexual harassment in the workplace is the #MeToo movement. It went viral back in October 2017 following sexual abuse allegations against the American film producer Harvey Weinstein. The “Weinstein effect” was triggered as a result of the viral campaign and called for dismissals of men who hold positions of power in the society and workplace for sexual abuse allegations.
On 23rd January Financial Times broke a story about sexual harassment at the Presidents Club fundraiser dinner. Financial Times sent two journalists undercover to work as hostesses at the Presidents Club Dinner that took place at the Dorchester Hotel in London. The journalists broke the story of sexist environment and abuse towards the hostesses. It made headlines on social media and international press, but in the events industry, media and event associations were slow to respond to the story.