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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Skift-MIRDubai Expo 2020 unveiled its new logo and website this past weekend, inspired by an intricate gold ring discovered in an ancient lost city, symbolizing unity, connection and partnership.

More than a logo for a global mega-event, it’s really a travel brand for the new Middle East. Expo 2020’s theme is: “Connecting the Minds, Creating the Future,” representing the modern Arabian Gulf region where knowledge, technology, and mobility are the new crude oil.

Dubai’s massive new Al Maktoum International Airport is scheduled to complete construction in early 2020, in time to welcome the world for the city’s official coming-out party on a global stage.

In 2019, the equally large Istanbul Grand Airport will open for business. Like Al Maktoum, it is designed to process over 150 million passengers per year, more than double what each airport handles now. Together, they will effectively reroute the skies between Beijing and New York when they reach capacity, spurred on by the opening of dozens of new airports in China in coming years.

I spoke with Ozgul Ozkan Yavuz, general manager of the Istanbul CVB, about the city’s rapid growth as the world’s 8th busiest convention destination. The bureau’s new “Tale of Two Cities” branding marries the history of Istanbul as the link between East and West with its aspirations as a modern knowledge and mobility hub. With the recent attacks in Brussels, however, she says there’s a “new normal” today that’s challenging the spirit of unity, connection and partnership driving innovation in Istanbul, Dubai and other global gateways. Read the full story here.

— Greg Oates, Senior Editor

Social Quote of the Day

“Heads up! @DubaiExpo2020 & Wamda compiled a teaser report on Collaborative Entrepreneurship owl.li/ZQj2D

@WamdaME on Twitter

Istanbul Grand Airport 2

Hospitality & Tourism

Interview: Istanbul Rises as a Global Convention City Amidst Turkey’s Problems: Istanbul is emerging as a new global business hub due to massive infrastructure improvements, including what will be the largest capacity airport in Europe, but security fears could potentially dampen growth. Read more at Skift

IMEX CEO Talks National Differences and Cultural Sensitivity: While some of a culture’s knowledge, rules, beliefs and values are taught explicitly, most of the information is absorbed subconsciously with cultural imprinting often beginning from an early age. Read more at Conference & Meetings World

These Hilton Hotels Have Meeting Group Sales Down to a Science in Chicago: If hotels want to book more meetings and events, they need to know how to speak the specific industry language of the events and planners they’re working with. Read more at Skift

Hilton Deepens Its Uber Relationship in New Loyalty Push: Hilton’s experiment with the ride-sharing service finally offers a bit more than just reminding you to hail an Uber from the Hilton HHonors mobile app. Read more at Skift

Next-Generation Event user experience

IBM Watson Is Changing Travel in Ways Nobody’s Expecting: IBM is building a global business around its Watson cognitive computing platform to help C-suite executives navigate the data and digital landscape. Check out how they’re using design thinking and face-to-face meetings at the IBM Design Studios to do it. Read more at Skift

For Oculus to Succeed, Virtual Reality Needs to Succeed: The revolution will be virtualized. With the first Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets showing up on doorsteps this week, four years after one of the most famous Kickstarter campaigns of all time, the consumer virtual reality era truly begins. Read more at Fast Company

This Weekend’s NCAA Final Four Will be Live-Streamed in Virtual Reality: College basketball fans who own a Samsung Gear VR headset will be able to watch each game from a courtside perspective for free by downloading the NCAA March Madness Live app in the Oculus Store. Read more at The Verge

Free Skift Report: New Messaging Strategies for Travel Brands: The Post-App Economy consists of rapidly growing messaging channels that provide brands with real-time opportunities to interact with meeting attendees. This environment includes both relatively new platforms like Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and Google’s upcoming messaging app, as well as established channels like SMS and web chat. All of these channels allow for real-time, one-to-one communication. Read more at Skift

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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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Photo Credit: The new Dubai Expo 2020 website and logo. Dubai Expo 2020