Skift Take

Conferences and events like Skift Forum Europe in April and SXSW in Austin this month distill the converging trends in society, politics, and high-growth industries.

The Future of Meetings & Events

The inaugural Skift Forum Europe kicks off on April 4 in London’s Docklands district with a full day of travel industry disruptors discussing the social, political, and economic factors driving their technology and marketing strategy decisions. The various industry thought leaders range from InterContinental Hotels CEO Richard Solomons to London & Partners acting CEO Andrew Cooke.

According to Skift founder Rafat Ali in his post this week, “The Forum isn’t a just a line of business for us. It is the distillation of everything we work for.”

Meanwhile in Austin, the annual South by Southwest Conference (SXSW) is swarming the city — the entire city — with an estimated 80,000-plus registered attendees. More than 25,000 of those are using Airbnb this week in Austin, which has 35,000 hotel rooms. We paid $100 per night for an apartment near South Congress, booked one week ahead. For the first time around we also used the RideAustin ride-sharing app, which replaced Uber and Lyft last year when those two apps were booted out of town.

On Saturday, the volume of traffic downtown grew so big that it crashed a few of the city’s proprietary ride-sharing apps for an entire night. A lot of love for the RideAustin platform, which allows riders to tip drivers and round up rates to donate to any number of local charities. Stay tuned for our upcoming SXSW stories.

— Greg Oates, meetings editor

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Social Quote of the Week

“Video: @MayorBowser introduces two initiatives to foster inclusive innovation in DC: @In3DC and @thebeacondc!”

@Washington DC Economic Partnership on Twitter

Skift Forum Europe

Skift Forum Europe: This Is Not a Freakin’ Conference — Europe Style: The first annual Skift Forum Europe launches in London’s Docklands on April 4. “Our European not-an-industry-conference conference will build on our promise to be the best creative brainfood all year for the travel industry. We guarantee it.” — Rafat Ali, founder, Skift. Read more at Skift


Here’s What Tech Investors Were Talking About At SXSW This Week: Venture capitalists come to SXSW to learn about the biggest trends in tech, and meet and mingle with current and potential portfolio companies. This year everyone’s talking about two big things that have nothing to do with what’s happening here in Austin: What Snap’s IPO and President Trump’s administration mean for startups and investingRead more at CNBC

‘The Bubble Has Burst:’ Brands Are Pulling Back On SXSW 2017: It wouldn’t be another typical year at SXSW if someone didn’t suggest the Austin spectacle had jumped the shark. With fewer big brands participating this year, Josh Rowe, partner and VP of experiences for marketing agency, thinks that the slowdown could be because companies’ event strategies are shifting from big blowouts to small-scale takeovers. Read more at Digiday

SXSW Insider: Hugh Forrest Dishes On Killer Apps, Trump’s Effect On Festival: SXSW director Hugh Forrest says the political-themed sessions “are trying to examine how the policies of a new administration will impact technology and innovation. That’s important given that for eight years of Obama we kind of understood his approach to tech and entrepreneurship.” Read more at Austin Business Journal

At SXSW, It’s All Topo Chico: The Mexican sparkling mineral water Topo Chico enjoys something of a cult status in Austin, because it’s down-to-earth and it has a global outlook and proud local story. Kinda like the residents. Here, the AdAge author uses the slightly salty bubbly water as a metaphor for SXSW 2017. Read more at AdAge

Live from SXSW: The Buzziest of Brand Experience (So Far): This year’s SXSW is seeing an even bigger boom of the “house” and “lounge” installations, where brands are curating their own officially and unofficially sanctioned venues throughout the city, featuring speakers, exhibitions, and entertainment, and sometimes lines around the block. Read more at FreemanXP


The Power of Conferences in a Social-Media Age: Social media has made the conference experience more valuable than ever. This Wall Street Journal story states: “The value of in-person encounters comes not in spite of, but increasingly because of, the way we use technology and social media — from the colleague we discover on social media to the presentation that takes one’s professional reputation to new heights.” Read more at The Wall Street Journal

Hotel Room Blocks for Conferences Are Shrinking, Making Event Tracking a Challenge: There are more conference attendees now but fewer rooms picked up in room blocks compared to 10 years ago. It’s clear that attendee-booking behavior has changed, so conference organizers are hedging their bets by lowering the size of the room block. Is it time to rethink how cities gauge the success of the conferences they host? Read more at Convene

Why Design Thinking Is the Future of Meetings: Design thinking helps companies elicit honest responses from consumers about how they engage with brands, use their products, and experience interactions online and offline. Event management and procurement companies like Maritz are now leveraging the value of design thinking for conferences with what they call “experience design.” Read more at Connect Association

IMEX Group Launches ‘Talking Point’ Strategy, Adds Extra Focus and Edge to Education and Content: The 2017 IMEX Talking Point is: “Purposeful Meetings: How to plan with deeper meaning, innovation and insight in mind.” The new theme aligns with the meetings industry organization’s new mission: “To unite and advance the meetings industry, doing everything we can to educate, innovate and help our clients make powerful connections with the right people.” Read more at HQ Global


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

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Tags: meetingsiq

Photo credit: Connectivity, integration, and human-machine interfaces are big themes this week at SXSW 2017. SXSW

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