Skift Take

Right now, the meetings and events industry is divided between focusing on the value of innovation and the cost of ignorance, and industry leaders have a lot to say about both.

The Future of Meetings & Events

This week’s Meetings Innovation Report is a battle between the past and the future, much like the Divided States of America itself these days. Innovation versus ignorance defines 2017.

We have a couple stories below about the Dublin Tech Summit this month focusing on women leaders in tech and the growing conversation around the ethics of robotics.

We also have links to three stories highlighting the inanity presently occupying the Texas legislature. The focus there is about pushing through another “bathroom bill,” because that wins a lot of votes among part of the nation’s electorate desperately clinging to the past.

John Graham, president and CEO of the American Society of Association Executives, said he will pull the organization’s 2021 annual meeting out of Dallas if the bill passes. Summing up how those of us not living in the 1950s feel, he stated:

“We are deeply opposed to any laws that permit or even give the appearance of tolerating discrimination. In addition to being regressive, these types of laws could also cause serious harm to the meetings and conventions business in any state that adopts them, creating an unwelcome environment for convention sponsors and attendees, and a strong incentive for convention organizers to consider holding their events elsewhere.”

Thank you to the Texas Welcomes All alliance for your stand on inclusivity.

— Greg Oates, editor, SkiftX

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Social Quote of the Day

“In 2016, an estimated 400 million people interacted with IBM’s Watson” – @FastCompany

@IBMWatson on Twitter

Skift Trends Brief

Sponsored: The Trends Shaping Luxury Meetings and Events in 2017: The three big trends in this Skift Trends Brief look at the convergence of creative spaces for events both on-property and in-destination; deeper cultural immersion to integrate the local community; and a greater emphasis on wellness and transformative experiences. Read more at Four Seasons

Travel & Hospitality

Marriott CEO Says U.S. Travel Ban Financial Impact Is Minor, But May Deter Groups: Companies like Marriott International, with their strong global presence in group sales, are in a good position to capitalize on hotel demand that may shift away from the U.S. due to political concerns. Read more at Skift

Airbnb Acquires Vacation Rental Company Luxury Retreats, Officially Moves Into Luxury: Airbnb has always offered luxury listings but it’s now doing so with more mojo following the acquisition of the Montreal-based Luxury Retreats home-sharing platform. Read more at Skift

Bathroom Bills Are Upending the Meetings Industry Across the U.S.: Besides stripping away the fundamental rights of an already marginalized group, the stack of bathroom bills piling up in state legislatures around the country will only drive away meetings and conventions, and the valuable economic income they bring with them. Read more at Skift

‘I Pee With LGBT’: Meetings, Tourism, and Hotel Sectors Rally Against Proposed Texas Bathroom Bill: The Texas Welcomes All alliance estimates the bill could cost the state $8.5 billion annually in lost travel and tourism revenues, and put an estimated 185,000 travel and tourism jobs at risk. Read more at Meetings & Conventions and MeetingsNet

Why Marriott Wants to Explore the Sharing Economy: Marriott is testing a new communal guest experience strategy at 23 of its Element properties worldwide. The design includes a collaboration room in the center of four individual guest rooms, housing a kitchen, dining room, and lounge. Read more at PCMA

The Jeff Bezos Retail Laboratory — or ‘Seattle,’ As The Locals Like To Say: Explaining Amazon’s innovative adventures in experiential marketing, MIT writes: “In a bid to expand beyond e-tail, Amazon is currently launching one harebrained physical retail experiment after the next. A bodega without checkouts. A bookstore without price tags. A drive-up grocery shop.” Read more at MIT Technology Review


‘We Can’t Unbite The Apple’ — George The Robot Warns Awestruck Dublin Tech Summit Crowd: Speaking on a panel at the Dublin Tech Summit, Ed Hoppitt, EMEA lead Cloud Native Apps and DevOps with VMware, said: “The ethics of robotics are incredibly complicated. The reality is that there is a much more sinister side to robotics, and what is right for robots to do and not to do is very important.” Then George, who’s a robot, responded: “Robots do whatever they’re asked to.” What could go wrong here? Read more at

Meet The Woman Behind Dublin’s New Tech Conference: Dublin Tech Summit CEO Noelle O’Reilly says she’s happy with 9,800 people attending the inaugural DTS event this month. “I think 10,000 is the right number,” she confers. “I think between eight and 10,000 is a beautiful number. That’s what I wanted at events I went to. I wanted to do business, not just gather brochures I could maybe read in a couple of months.” Read more at Newstalk

IBM Watson Opens $200 Million IoT Headquarters in Munich: At the IBM Genius of Things Summit in the company’s new IoT HQ in Munich this month, Visa and IBM Watson announced they’re collaborating to create the infrastructure where every connected device will be a point of sale. IBM Watson general manager Harriet Green said: “We share a vision of commerce-based IoT where any device, from a watch, ring, an appliance, or car, can be used to make a purchase.” Read more at VentureBeat

A Conversation with SXSW’s Mike Shea: The executive director of SXSW in Austin has been part of its planning for most of its 30-year history. Shea told the crowd at PCMA’s Convening Leaders conference this year that the core of the popular music, film, and technology festival is all business. Read more at Convene

AI Is So Overhyped. VB Summit Will Sort Through The Noise: The inaugural VentureBeat Summit this summer in Berkeley will explore how artificial intelligence platforms are transforming business, ranging from digital applications in marketing and advertising to cyber security and the AI-powered collaborative workplace. Read more at VentureBeat


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

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Photo credit: A robot named "George" shared his opinions about the future of robotics this month at the Dublin Tech Summit. Dublin Tech Summit

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