The weekly Skift Meetings Innovation Report defines the future of meetings and events by deciphering disruptive strategies that improve knowledge sharing.

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The Future of Meetings + Events

Skift-MIRFor our annual Skift Megatrends print report that we publish every January, I wrote about how smart cities are evolving as platforms. Meaning, cities are evolving in line with the rest of the booming digital platform economy, encompassing everything from Airbnb to Accenture.

The basic definition of a digital platform is an “online space for value exchange.” That can mean products (Amazon), services (Uber), or information (YouTube). Many cities are embracing the same concept by developing open data platforms, as explained in the White House’s new online initiative: The Opportunity Project.

The meetings industry throughout hospitality and tourism now needs to also reposition business events as cloud-first digital platforms.

The live physical program may be the central hub of knowledge sharing, and as we’ve repeatedly reported, millennials want face-to-face networking as much or more than previous generations. But there’s a lot of opportunity for new business development and wider audience reach when the event’s brand.com portal and digital tools provide a robust platform for additional value exchange, however that’s defined. Today’s story describing the new functionalities in the SXSW GO event app is just one example of that.

— Greg Oates, Senior Editor

Social Quote of the Day

“In August of 2015, I was invited to give a TED Talk. Here’s the full (very stressful) story. waitbutwhy.com/2016/03…

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SXSW-GO-app

Next Generation Event UX

The 2016 SXSW Event App Tries to Set a New Standard in Conference Customization: After years of conjecture about event app customization and beacon technology, the SXSW GO event app is positioned to deliver on those expectations. The new “SXSW Recommends” component suggests sessions personalized to your profile tags and existing session choices. Read more at Skift

The Rise of Cons: Lifestyle conventions — aka “Cons” — for everything from quilts to beer are booming due to growing online communities of devout consumers. “More fans have been stepping out of the virtual world and into convention centers — the physical manifestation of an obsessiveness bred by the Internet.” Read more at The Wall Street Journal

This Year’s Coachella Attendees Can Try Custom Cardboard VR Headsets and New Self-Customized Earbuds: The Coachella music festival is beefing up its VR programming with a new app and custom Google Cardboard headset that’s shipping out to attendees with their tickets. Music fans will also have a chance to try out the new Here Active Listening “hearable” earbuds to personalize concert sounds. Read more at The Verge (VR) and Wareable (earbuds)

What Do Millennials Really Want From Brand Events?: What do they love, what do they hate, and what have they come to expect before, during and after events? Here’s a survey of 785 millennials capturing their opinions about experiential marketing, designed to help brands understand the link between events and brand loyalty. Read more at Splash and Adweek

Innovation Springs from the Unexpected Meeting of Minds: “Crossovers” are what happen when an invention, idea, or body of knowledge in one field jumps into another, and the result is a quantum leap of progress. Sometimes the people and the pieces come from the unlikeliest of places. Read more at Harvard Business Review

Hospitality Disruptions

Marriott International Launches European Convention Network: Announced today, the new ECN network is a collection of 14 convention hotels with one dedicated contact person. The big picture goal is all about providing a “streamlined, cost effective and comprehensive service for all meeting planners organizing annual or bi-annual meetings and events in Europe.” Read more at Marriott

Hilton CEO Is Thinking About Cheap Urban Hotels for the Airbnb Generation: A couple weeks ago we wrote about the rise of next-generation hostels for business travelers and meeting attendees. A week later Hilton says it’s looking into building a hostel brand. Coincidence? Read more at Skift

The Technology Trends Changing Meeting Spaces: Technology and generational shifts are changing meeting planners’ and attendees’ expectations for meeting spaces and events in general, according to a panel at the 2016 HTNG North American Conference. Read more at Hotel News Now

Destination Development

Hamburg Tries to Own the Future of Aviation With New Research Center: The new ZAL Centre of Applied Aeronautical Research will house up to 600 specialists in fields of research such as fuel cells, aircraft cabin technology, 3D printing, Internet of Things, acoustics, and virtual reality. Read more at Skift

Destination Innovation Clusters: Why Companies are Better Together: Dubai Tourism and The Economist explain how clusters emerge when a network of companies co­exists within a geographic location, allowing each of them to collaborate in a way that delivers greater productivity gains than they would achieve in isolation. Read more at The Economist

London’s Cutting Edge Sectors Inspire Association Events: London launched a new content package to promote the city’s intellectual capital and advanced tech industry to engage international association planners. Read more at London Convention Bureau

Destinations Join Forces to Share Best Practices for Ambassador Programs: This year’s Great Ambassador Networking (GANG) event, hosted in Leeds, put a spotlight on utilizing knowledge hubs in a destination in order to win more association conference business. Read more at Marketing Manchester

How CVBs and Convention Centers are Working Together to Drive New Business: One of the most contentious working relationships in the meetings and events industry revolves around convention bureaus and convention centers, who are often both going after the same funding sources. Here’s how four CVBs are rethinking that. Read more at Meetings & Conventions

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The Skift Meetings Innovation Report is curated by Skift senior editor Greg Oates [go@skift.com]. The newsletter is emailed every Wednesday.

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Photo Credit: Attendees at this year's annual Coachella music festival can try out new customized VR Google Cardboard headsets and Here Active Listening "hearable" earbuds. Coachella