The Future of Meetings & Events

Inclusivity and diversity were the two big themes at the 31st annual South By Southwest Conference in Austin last week.

I spent a good chunk of my time at Washington, D.C.’s pop-up WeDC House, because I felt that the collaboration there between Mayor Muriel Bowser, the city’s economic development and destination marketing organizations, and the local business and cultural communities was setting a new benchmark for positioning a city as a collective innovation ecosystem.

The vision for that was rooted in D.C.’s new “Inclusive Innovation” marketing and economic development strategy, designed to lead the national conversation around the need for more racial and gender diversity and inclusivity in tech. Also interesting, it was the first time I heard a convention bureau in the U.S. say that it wanted to position its city’s competitive advantage in the meetings industry squarely on top of its tech sector and other advanced industries.

The meetings and events strategy is outlined in the new Destination DC report: “Innovation Capital: Meetings & Conventions in a Tech Hub.”

More than a few people at the WeDC House used the analogy that diversity is about being asked to the dance, and inclusivity is about actually dancing. I expect we’ll see a lot more U.S. cities following D.C.’s lead in 2017. Read the full story here.

— Greg Oates, meetings editor

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Social Quote of the Week

“DC @MayorBowser makes major push for District startups at #sxsw #WeDC #inclusiveprosperity bit.ly/2mUiH8v  @blackenterprise

@DMPEDC on Twitter

Skift Forum Europe

Skift Forum Europe: This Is Not a Freakin’ Trade 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

SXSW News

How Washington, D.C.’s New ‘Inclusive Innovation’ Campaign Will Impact Tech Meetings: Washington, D.C. is promoting its high degree of inclusivity and diversity in the region’s tech sector, compared to the national average, as a competitive advantage to attract more technology conventions and drive long-term economic growth for a broader cross-section of local communities. Read more at Skift

Slido Report: SXSW 2017 + Austin: Love this. The Slido event tech company produced this colorful Medium post about their adventures at SXSW, mixing day-in-the-life scenes with their event takeaways based on more than 4,000 audience questions posted on the Slido platform. According to Juraj Holub, marketing and content manager at Slido, the top themes this year were: Feminism and the rise of women power, diversity and gender fluidity, AI and VR, and the impact of Trump. Nice work, Juraj. Read more at Slido

SXSW: What Worked and What Didn’t, Part 1: SXSW Interactive director Hugh Forrest recaps some of the highlights from the 2017 show, including SapientRazorfish’s session on “Augmented Intelligence: The Next-Gen AI” and the SXSW Trade Show. He also explains that the SXSW crew needs to figure out how to cut down the lines and room capacity challenges for all of the AI sessions, which exploded in popularity this year. Read more from Hugh Forrest on Medium

Growing Your Business At Large Events Like SXSW: Entrepreneurs need a multi-pronged “growth mindset” and a practiced set of habits to extract the most value from large scale events like SXSW. The author suggests that the process begins with understanding three types of ROI measurements and productivity hacks to maximize time and capital investment. Read more at Inc

The Global Development Lowdown At SXSW: Here’s an overview of the annual SXSW Community Service Awards. SXSW Interactive director Hugh Forrest said, “South by Southwest, in our best moments, is about using technology, using creativity, using innovation to help people out who need help, to help level the playing field between the haves and have nots.” Read more at Devex

NEXT GENERATION EVENT UX

B.C. Tech Summit Highlights Gender Diversity As Well As Innovation: The recent B.C. Tech Summit may have been as much about pushing gender diversity in the province’s growing innovation sector as it was about new technologies. Several speakers, ranging from Premier Christy Clark to senior Microsoft executives, delivered a unified message that the male-dominated sector represents an opportunity to create both gender and ethnic diversity. Read more at The Vancouver Sun

How Google’s New Event Brought Cloud Computing Down to Earth: Google’s Events and Experiences team partnered with the global brand experience agency Sparks to turn virtual concepts into real-world experiences at Google’s new Cloud Next conference. A series of 20 exhibits offered a physical manifestation of virtual ideas like machine learning, including an installation demonstrating how a cucumber farmer used Google’s TensorFlow deep learning platform to sort cucumbers more efficiently. Read more at BizBash

Leveraging Editorial Content to Support Association Goals: Cindy Stevens, senior director of publications at the Consumer Technology Association and a speaker at the Folio: Association Media Summit, shares her tips for creating a fruitful editorial strategy. Read more at Folio

Venue Inspiration: Inside Five Unique Activation Settings: Most of the meetings industry’s events take place within a handful of venue settings, like convention centers and hotels. Here’s how brands are throwing attendees for a loop by selecting offbeat locations that turn the standard activation on its head. Read more at Event Marketer

GL Events and NOEA Launch First Futures Forum White Paper: GL Events and the National Outdoor Events Association published what they say is the industry’s first ever report examining the future of outdoor events. The content digs into the importance of the experience economy in pushing consumers outdoors, the role of the industry to develop event products for a wider range of age demographics, and how companies are integrating their brands into outdoor events. Download the report at GL Events

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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: Democratic New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who delivered a rousing keynote at SXSW about confronting hate. SXSW