The Future of Meetings & Events

This week we have a collection of stories focusing on innovation in event design and the many ongoing challenges in diversity throughout the industry.

Regarding event design, coming from both the boutique and big-box players, Design Hotels and Marriott are attempting to answer the demand for more immersive, collaborative, and tech-forward meeting experiences. The two brands are each leveraging the storytelling behind their portfolios to target and engage specific group segments.

See the video of my interview with Design Hotels’ founder Claus Sendlinger at Skift Global Forum Europe in London this year.

On the diversity front, I like how Connect Meetings brought together a strong cross-section of industry players to discuss how and why the industry needs to move beyond its legacy as an old boys’ club. We need more initiatives to improve diversity in meetings and events like those discussed in the Washington, D.C. story below.

— Greg Oates

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Disrupting Meeting Design

Design Hotels’ First Event for Meeting Planners Was a Lesson in Brand Building: Design Hotels’ new Co-LAB MICE event is attempting to reinvent how companies can leverage boutique hotels to create more immersive meetings and integrated brand experiences. Read more at Skift

Marriott Turns A Trade Show Exhibit Into A Mobile Innovation Lab: Marriott is touring the country with a 3,000-square-foot, pop-up Innovation Lab designed to showcase tech and design evolutions in beta across 12 of the company’s hotel brands. To solicit feedback, Marriott is using the Swurveys platform to find out how visitors feel about new group experiences such as Element Hotels’ communal room layout. Read more at Event Marketer

A Huge Installation Is Coming To Boston’s City Hall Plaza For The HUBweek Festival: For the first time in its three-year history, the HUBweek innovation conference will take place inside temporary exhibition spaces constructed with 60 shipping containers, various 3D-printed installations, and four large geodesic domes. Read more at The Boston Globe

How YouTube Created Five Distinct Events at One Convention: The MAS Event & Design firm collaborated with the Google events and experiences team and the YouTube brand marketing and events department to produce last month’s VidCon conference in Anaheim. Although, with that much creative firepower in the room, the activations looked surprisingly lackluster, even cheesy. Read more at BizBash

Industry Diversity Challenges

An Honest Discussion on Race, Culture and Meetings: Five veteran executives from various convention bureaus, marketing agencies, and advocacy organizations shared their views on how the meetings industry has grown more diverse over the last decade. However, “the diverse makeup of events is still not reflective of the wide-ranging diversity found in the general population.” Read more at Connect Meetings

How Diverse Is the Events Industry?: While the tourism and hospitality sector is striving to improve the level of diversity throughout its workforce, the meetings and events industry is lagging in terms of the percentage of women executives in upper management. Read more at Conference & Incentive Travel

How Washington, D.C. Is Diversifying the Tech Sector: According to a Fortune Magazine 2015 survey of nine tech companies including Airbnb, Intel, and LinkedIn, women hold one-third of the positions and even less so at a leadership level. In another survey that included Apple, Facebook, and Google, African-Americans and Hispanics make up an average of only 7-8 percent of the workforce respectively. Here’s how Washington, D.C. is attempting to improve those numbers. Read more at Washington DC Economic Partnership

Next Generation Meetings UX

Middle America Is More Innovative Than A Lot of America Thinks: A new report from the NYC marketing agency Sparks & Honey highlights how midsize cities are attracting a growing number of startups by offering “values over valuations” and cheaper operating space, while selling themselves as test markets for new products and services. This is providing conference organizers a wider breadth of potential collaborators beyond the gateway cities. Read more at Fast Company

25 Event Tech Startups To Watch This Summer: Some of the more compelling new companies in event tech this summer include the Bottr chatbot integration, Hubb content management system, and Mixtroz attendee matchmaking app. Read more at Event Manager Blog

When Artificial Intelligence Becomes the New Face of Your Brand: Thanks to the simplicity and sophistication of artificial intelligence-powered conversational interfaces, it’s quite possible that customers will spend increasingly more time engaged with a company’s AI than with any other interface. Read more at Harvard Business Review

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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: Design Hotel's inaugural Co-LAB MICE Edition took place in Cyprus. Design Hotels