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This week, Sydney, Los Angeles, and Omni Hotels are showing how tourism and hospitality companies are disrupting the meetings and events industry, both online and offline.

The Future of Meetings & Events

I distinctly remember when Business Events Sydney launched its first “Beyond Tourism Benefits” research paper in 2011. It was a big pivot in the meetings industry that suddenly shifted our focus to the legacy impact of business events, beyond the immediate hotel room counts. Rather, the value of conferences should be measured by the new business relationships developed and knowledge shared due to better collaboration between government, academia, convention bureaus, business stakeholders, and conference organizers.

That research report has since evolved into a series of studies produced by BESydney in conjunction with the University of Technology Sydney. The latest was released last week at IMEX America in Las Vegas, describing how conferences are a catalyst for economic development.

David Swagell, industry team leader at BESydney, told me: “Specifically, we’re looking to focus on the connection between the business events industry and the commercialization opportunities derived from those events that will hopefully create a legacy impact in Sydney for years to come.” Read the full story here

— Greg Oates, Senior Editor

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Tourism & Hospitality

icc-sydney-the-theatreBusiness Events Sydney Positions Conferences As Catalysts for Economic Development: Governments, convention bureaus, and universities like those in Australia are collaborating more strategically to diversify the economy and drive economic development by targeting specific international conferences aligned with national interests. Read more at Skift

Australia Is Missing Out On Key Events Because of Slow Progress on Gender Diversity: A look at how diversity is increasingly determining corporate and association decision-making about what brands to align with. The Global Summit of Women, for example, is not impressed with Australia’s ratio of female executives in business and government. Read more at The Sydney Morning Herald

L.A. Tourism Launches First Citywide Virtual Reality Platform for Meeting Planners: Meet L.A., which is part of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, launched the Virtual Discovery L.A. portal last week with more than 50 group venues and gathering places showcased in immersive VR/360 video. Read more at Skift

Omni Hotels CMO Explains the Brand’s Pivot Toward Experiential Meetings: Because it owns and operates its 60-plus properties in North America, Omni Hotels feels it has more quality and consistency control over the meeting planner sales experience, and more impact on delivering local experiences for meeting attendees. Read more at Skift

Marriott’s Brian King Discusses Starwood Merger’s Effect on Meetings: King says the impact of the hospitality industry mega-merger will not raise rates due to less competition because of micro-market pricing and the fact that most of the hotels have different owners. Read more at Meetings & Conventions

Next Generation Event UX

Leveraging the Learning Space and Design Thinking Between Your Events: Freeman SVP David Sherman says, “Design thinking is a great way to align event objectives to organizational goals. It’s a process that takes a step back and allows key stakeholders to share big picture goals and the role an event can play in advancing those goals by envisioning strategic solutions.” Read more at PCMA

The Sharing Economy Is Here to Stay, Say IMEX America Attendees: Six convention industry veterans discussed the opportunities and challenges around integrating the sharing economy into events. However, “Reservations still revolve around trusting these new service providers, and issues of risk, compliance and individual safety.” Read more at IMEX

Why the Big Quiet Event Went Rogue in New York’s New Subway Platform: After this 1,000-person meditation event got cancelled just 48 hours before go-time, event co-founder Jesse Israel wasn’t going to take no for an answer. “Even if you’re fully prepared, shit’s gonna happen,” he said. “How do we come together? How do we make lemonade?” Read more at BizBash

IBM Watson’s New Conversational Capabilities Bring Brands and Consumers Closer: IBM introduced Watson Virtual Agent this week. The cognitive conversational technology, or “bot,” helps businesses offer customers quick responses to queries in natural language in real time. Read more at IBM

Start Networking with People Outside Your Industry: To diversify your personal and professional networks at events, start with these four strategies: Inventory your existing connections; put networking on your schedule; ask for recommendations, and don’t look for immediate returns. Read more at Harvard Business Review

Event Spotlight

Web Summit Lisbon: This is a big one. According to the executive team, “The startups that exhibited at our U.S. event Collision, our Hong Kong event RISE, our fintech event MoneyConf, and Web Summit have raised just over $1 billion in funding since they joined our ALPHA, BETA, and START programs in 2015.” Read more at Web Summit


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: University of Technology Sydney and Business Events Sydney just released their latest "Beyond Tourism Benefits" research for the meetings industry. UTS

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