Skift Take

After attending South by Southwest, you'll never view a business event the same way again due to the sheer levels of creativity, energy, and innovation set against the backdrop of Austin's weirdness.

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-MIRThe annual South by Southwest Media, Film & Interactive (SXSW) conference in Austin is one of those events where the user experience lives up to the hype. Yesterday, I visited the Japan House where Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro introduced his interactive, human-like Geminoid HI-4 robot, which can converse with people via the world’s most advanced artificial intelligence.

Very human like. The skin, the hair, the blinking eyes — the robot freaked everyone out due to the reality of its appearance. Similar robots are working in Tokyo department stores, where data shows they rank in the top 25 percent of sales performance among their human colleagues. Yes, be very afraid.

SXSW long ago set the global standard for conferences because of the many unexpected collisions of innovation that happen when you bring so many disparate participants and advanced industries together. Driving that user experience, SXSW takes a lot of risks with its programming, which should be an inspiration for conference organizers everywhere.

However, Hugh Forrest, director of SXSW Interactive, says the real value of the show is about the thousands of human connections that take place outside the sessions and trade show floor. President Obama, who participated in the opening keynote, and the Geminoid HI-4 android might wow everyone, but the daily face-to-face business is why SXSW exists. Read my interview with Forrest below, and stay tuned for more event intelligence from Austin.

— Greg Oates, Senior Editor

Social Quote of the Day

“Really the reason I’m here is to recruit all of you. — @POTUS at #SXSW2016

@WhiteHouse on Twitter


South by Southwest

South by Southwest Director on Building the World’s Buzziest Business Event: While the presence of big name headliners and breakout technologies drive a lot of exposure around SXSW, it’s still the face time among speakers, exhibitors, and attendees from different industries that drives the event’s success. Read more at Skift

How Conference Startup Competitions Are Evolving in 2016: Millennial trends prioritizing teamwork and community service are making their impact in how startup competitions judge emerging companies. The producer of the SXSW Accelerator Competition explains. Read more at Skift

Why Samsung Brought SXSW to New York: The striking new Samsung theater in New York’s Meatpacking District, with its towering 3-story screen, streamed a bunch of live SXSW sessions this week, providing a compelling case study for the next generation of virtual and livestreaming events. Read more at BizBash

At SXSW, Obama Challenges Tech Industry to Do, Be More in Keynote Address: President Obama called on the rapidly-growing tech business to help innovate solutions to America’s greatest ills. Post contains the full video of the POTUS session and a great suggestion for breakfast tacos. Read more at Vanity Fair

How Newton’s Third Law Applies to South by Southwest: Five polar opposite trends were evident at SXSW this year, such as the rise of virtual reality experiences and a new surge of interest in analog experiences. Read more at AdvertisingAge

Next Generation Event UX

China Could Host the World’s First Smart Airports: SITA released a report showing that next-generation airports have two main goals: Let passengers access as many airport services as possible, and provide them unprecedented amounts of information via mobile. Read more at PSFK

How Corporate Event Marketing Makes Meetings Better: Four corporate event marketing professionals talk about what they do, how it’s different from meeting planning, and what every meeting professional can learn from it. Read more at Convene

The Rise of 3D-Printed Meeting Spaces: A year ago, convention industry experts could only speculate about the future impact of 3D printing on meeting experiences. This Dutch firm is answering that question with a new printed venue for the European Union Council. Read more at Convene

Hospitality + Tourism Disruptions

The Tiny Hilton Robot Concierge That Hints at IBM’s Ambitious Plans for Travel: Hilton Worldwide and IBM are collaborating to pilot a new IBM Watson-enabled robot concierge. For business events, “Connie” can speak 10 languages and answer (almost) any factual question from any meeting attendee. Read more at Skift

How Airbnb Designs For Trust: This TED Talk by Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia discusses how empathetic, human-first design thinking helps foster community and connection instead of isolation and separation. Watch the TED Talk

Los Angeles Tourism CEO Explains the Exponential Rise of The Chinese Traveler: Last year, China surpassed Canada as the number one international inbound travel market into Los Angeles. Growth was 22% year-over-year. So far this year, the arrival numbers are up 20% over 2015. Read more at Skift


The Skift Meetings Innovation Report is curated by Skift senior editor Greg Oates [[email protected]]. The newsletter is emailed every Wednesday.

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Tags: meetings

Photo credit: SXSW participants take a selfie with Japan's Geminoid HI-4 android, designed with the world's most advanced artificial intelligence. Skift

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