Skift Meetings is our new weekly newsletter that deciphers disruptive strategies driving change in attendee engagement, knowledge sharing and business impact for all stakeholders in the meetings and conventions sector.

How we communicate is as important as what we communicate in today’s events industry, based on the rise of so many different digital channels and platforms. Content is fluid, global, 24/7 and platform agnostic.

Therefore, the meeting of the future is an open-source, co-created hybrid of live and virtual engagement, connecting more people through more channels over longer periods of time to leverage the collective knowledge of the community.

Much of the meetings industry is still trying to catch up with these shifts.

The community, the end user, is now the major driver of content distribution. So everyone involved in creating and planning events is challenged with determining how the event ecosystem can strategically curate the flow of content before, during and after the event.

Destinations, hotels, venues, and suppliers/vendors are adjusting their operations accordingly to support that content flow. The mission of Skift Meetings is to help propel those innovations in digital engagement forward to a wider global audience.

Destinations As Knowledge Hubs

On a macro scale, the most innovative first and second-tier destinations are positioning themselves as knowledge hubs to expand their spectrum of collaboration with meeting professionals. It is a systemic shift in their value propositions, expanding beyond the focus on infrastructure hardware to intellectual software.

Knowledge capital is driving the new global economy.

“The city of the future is an international, interdisciplinary knowledge sharing machine,” says Dr. Stefan Walter, professor of economics and supply chain management at the House of Logistics & Mobility (HOLM) at Frankfurt International Airport.

“Everyone in our competitive set has great meetings infrastructure and great services,” adds Laura d’Elsa, North American director of the German Convention Bureau. “Our differentiator for meeting planners is the direct connection we provide to world leaders in science, medicine, technology, engineering, finance, logistics and mobility, and other advanced industries.”

Millennials are the ones who are pushing hardest for deeper immersion with a destination’s business, academic and tech sectors. Next generation attendees traveling to Singapore, for example, are often more interested in going behind the scenes at Google and YouTube Asia headquarters, versus cocktail receptions at luxury venues.

Skift Meetings profiles many other destination leaders who are implementing new strategies to introduce attendees to their local knowledge base aligned by industry sector.

For example, Skift broke the story on the launch of Holland’s innovative convention industry website in September 2015. The portal is organized by the nine business verticals of expertise that Holland specializes in, rather than the typical list of meeting venues, hotels and local activities. This is the very definition of the future of meetings.

“When it comes to meetings and conventions, we are in a global industry which is growing fast,” explains Jos Vranken, managing director of The Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions. “In order to be successful and sustainable as a destination, we need to offer the same level of expertise as the global capital cities.”

Miha Kovacic, director of the Slovenian Convention Bureau, also emphasizes the value of local intelligence as a business driver for next generation meetings. “True added value of an event organized in a different country is not to experience other country’s culture, gastronomy, people, etc.,” he says. “It is the specific knowledge that the country has and is willing to share with an international audience.”

Leveraging The Local Knowledge Base

Here are some examples of how destination marketing organizations and convention bureaus are tapping into their local intellectual capital:

Big Demand For Better Digital Content

For many meeting suppliers and buyers, there’s still a lot of downward pressure on budgets. That’s hampering the development of digital content curation and hybrid event technology to better share knowledge with a broader, more global audience.

Some planners feel they’re lagging behind advances in digital content strategy due to their clients’ and organizations’ misperceptions about cost and returns. Without the necessary budgets, industry education and the ability to test new meeting design suffers. That’s causing a big gap between ideation and implementation in modern meeting strategy, especially on the association side.

Skift Meetings looks at how some destinations and venues are supporting the pipeline for better digital education and engagement, while explaining the value proposition for doing so.

For example, organizations such as Melbourne Convention Bureau and Business Events Sydney partner aggressively with convention planners to develop compelling programming and digital content around that programming. It’s exactly that type of collaboration that helps drive attendee engagement, knowledge sharing and association membership.

As well, Sydney has co-created a significant body of academic intelligence with the University of Technology Sydney, focusing on the value of meetings to create economic and professional development opportunities on both sides of the buyer/supplier equation.

That has had significant impact on getting the state government to increase Business Events Sydney’s meetings budget. In turn, that improves the destination’s ability to co-create more effective conventions and content with planners to drive innovation for all stakeholders.

“We’re not in the tourism business,” says Lyn-Lewis Smith, CEO of Business Events Sydney. “We’re in the business and innovation business.”

That spirit of innovation aligned with tangible business objectives is what fuels Skift Meetings.

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Tags: meetings
Photo Credit: Economics professors at the University of Technology Sydney collaborated with Business Events Sydney to develop research examining the role of convention bureaus in securing large meetings and conventions. UTS