Main image: Tomorrow’s Talent winners 2020 and 2021
The Meetings Show’s Tomorrow’s Talent initiative champions talented newcomers to the industry and provides a platform for nurturing, mentoring and supporting the industry leaders of the future. To mark the 10th edition of The Meetings Show, we talked to this year’s cohort – 10 sharp, under-30s – to find out their thoughts on where the MICE industry will be in 10 years’ time…
Despite the surge in virtual events during the global pandemic and the increasing adoption of virtual and hybrid technology, all the Tomorrow’s Talent winners emphatically believe there will still be strong demand for live meetings and events in 2032.
Shakira Browne, senior events manager at Ultima Media, says: “I think the technology we’re going to be utilising in 10 years’ is going to massively impact what the word event means to people,” she explains. “Nevertheless, as innovative as virtual and hybrid events can be, nothing beats being in person and experiencing the buzz in the room. For me, that’s the core of events and I don’t think that will change.”
New ways of living and working will further increase the demand and need for in-person experiences in future, according to Daniel Wilcock, freelance event and project manager at Wilcock Event Services. “In working life, and perhaps even society I can see us getting more and more disparate and removed from each other (due to social media, remote working, advances in technology etc) but MICE events and experiences will be utilised even more to retain personal connections and create memorable experiences.”
Balancing live and virtual experiences
After two years of disruption to the events industry, its unsurprising that many businesses are keen to put virtual events on the back burner for now and jump straight back into live. But Jessica McNulty, senior events co-ordinator, Quadrant Events, believes the huge pendulum swing that we’ve experienced from live to virtual and back to live will level out in the coming years.
“In 10 years, I think the industry will have balanced to utilise the best of virtual and in-person events depending on the audience and content required, with event production agencies playing a key role in creating an effective event design supported by venues creating a delegate experience to remember,” she explains.
Moving to metaverse
Josh King, sales and marketing director at emc3, is excited by the possibilities that the metaverse will bring to events. “With Bill Gates stating “Within the next two or three years, I predict most virtual meetings will move from 2D camera image grids to the metaverse” it’s time for us to get ahead of the curve as creatives, strategists, planners and marketers. Web 3.0, Crypto and the metaverse are going to have a huge impact on our industry and the best event strategies will incorporate virtual, hybrid and in-person events. The world of tech is constantly evolving, and we need to keep up if we want to continue to deliver the most immersive and engaging experiences,” he explains.
Laura Jensen, senior content and community executive at RX, adds: “With the rise of the metaverse, it’s fun to consider the idea that in 10 years, we might be at a point where events can be held virtually, but still feel like a live event. I don’t think we’ve quite got there yet, and I’d love to see how it could be done.”
After the unexpectedness and uncertainty of the past few years, Jensen says it’s difficult to predict where the industry will be in 10 years: “Who knows what could be around the corner? However, I do think there are themes in place in the industry, such as sustainability, DE&I and hybrid, that won’t be going away any time soon. I’d like to think that by 2032, we’d be well on our way to reaching net zero with the majority of our events. It’s a no-brainer. If we want to run events in 10, 30, 50 years’ time, we need to make sure that the planet is able to do so.”
Sustainability is increasingly important
An increased focus on sustainability was a key prediction for many of the Tomorrow’s Talent winners. Marali Kempthorne, team leader, meetings & events, Reed & Mackay says: “I believe that there will be a higher emphasis placed on meeting sustainably, although I do not think this will stop overseas travel, as it’s in our human nature to be inquisitive and seek new encounters. However, there will be a requirement from all stakeholders, client, agencies, and suppliers alike to showcase what steps they’re doing to protect our environment.”
Olivia Salvage, senior events co-ordinator, doTERRA, adds: “I hope that the events we are putting on will leave no footprint, more venues will be carbon-neutral, running on reusable energy, with not a disposable item in sight! Ideally, our industry will be giving more back to the areas we host events and our planet as a whole, rather than taking away and leaving a negative impact.”
This sentiment was shared by Milly Pickles, event executive at Parallel Blue who believes the focus on sustainability and CRS activities will remain an important aspect of corporate events, especially incentives.
“Instead of following the crowd to well-known and overpopulated locations, companies may choose to visit countries that need the support from activities that give back to the local community.”
Collaboration was one of the key positives to come out of the pandemic, with corporates, agencies and suppliers from across the industry supporting each other and working together to find new solutions. Sarah Zarywacz, Event Executive, ECI Partners, believes that collaboration will continue to play an important role. She predicts the MICE industry will be: ‘an even bigger community of collaborators’.
“The pandemic really brought idea-sharing to the forefront of the industry and long may that continue. Of course, we’ll be producing even more sustainable events (we’ll have to) but we’ll all become more skilled in other areas of marketing as automation and AI take even more precedence.”
With the worst of the pandemic hopefully behind us, it’s great to hear the event industry’s brightest new stars predicting such a bright future, filled with exciting, immersive, technology-filled, and most importantly, more sustainable events, across virtual, hybrid and live.
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