The future of Conferences and Events towards 2015

3 Apr

This is a summary of a global discussion at Jack Morton Worldwide as to what Events and Conferences will look like in 2015. It was compiled by the Creative Strategist at Jack Morton Australia:

I was part of an interesting discussion with members of the global Jack Morton community this week. The topic…how will events and conferences look in 2015?

Following are the nine topline thoughts I took away from the discussion. I think there’s a lot of relevance beyond the live event and conference space…

EXPERIENTIAL. For years, content was king. Now context is king. Already today it’s the experience that counts most. And, as the ability of technology to deliver content on tap grows exponentially, so the experience will become the only point of difference of a live event. It’s about the ability of experiences to fulfill a human need (the same kind of human need that stops many of us throwing away our vinyl records)…

HUMAN. There are a bunch of human truths that have been around for a thousand years and aren’t likely to change anytime soon. These are needs that experiences have an incredible capacity to fulfill…“Entertain me”, “Immerse me”, “Inspire me”, “Connect me”, “Add value to my life”, “Make me part of something”, “Give me an experience”.

ONGOING. Experiences may prevail, but standalone conferences and big events will die. The future will be about ongoing activity of which a conference (a live experience) is just one piece. The future is about creating live extensions of campaigns (which the brand will pay for), conversations (which brands and participants will pay for), and communities (which participants and partners will pay for). The future is about conferences as live extensions of brands. Brands behaving, if you like.

INTEGRATED. Future conferences and events will be more integrated than ever into campaigns (e.g. sales cycles), conversations, and communities. We will need to get as smart in the B2B and employee engagements spaces as we have traditionally been in the integrated consumer campaign space. That means that the same smart thinking that always has to be applied to consumer experiential…why live over ATL, online?…will have to be applied as rigorously to the role of live experiences within the B2B space. There will no longer be the lazy assumption that a conference will happen. Instead, whether organizer or attendee, you will have to recognize (strategically) and demonstrate (measurably) the value of a conference or event as part of the bigger, ongoing picture.

STRATEGIC. Thinking about the reasons why events happen in 2009 will help us think about the evolution of event towards 2015…so a bunch of stuff that looks the same now will evolve in different directions by 2015. We need to investigate the drivers behind events today to understand the likely reasons for, and shape of, events in 2015.

CUSTOMISED. Live bookmarking. Digital data. Real-time interaction. Active participation. User-generated content. Choose your own adventure. The ability for people to own, influence, and shape their experience is only going to grow. Conferences and events may remain rooted in the live space, responding to human needs, but that doesn’t mean they won’t embrace the latest that technology can offer. They have to.

OFFLINE MEETS ONLINE. Virtual events and conferences have been a topic of conversation for a while. But it’s a dead end. The real point is that as conferences (both online, offline, and hybrid/linked) will be integrated into longer-term, ongoing thinking about campaigns, conversations, and communities. In other words, online and offline will be used (and linked) as appropriate to the strategic need. Right now, conferences happen for a bunch of different reasons, some of those reasons will be better satisfied by virtual activity in the future, some will always need to remain rooted in the live space. It’s about getting smarter and more strategic.

AMPLIFIED. What is certain is that the good stuff that happens in conferences will not get left in the room in the future. Linking in-room participants to remote viewers. Creating events that are experiences by few but witnessed by many. Creating content and conversations that spill out of the live space. Driving PR, pushing things online and above the line. Starting movements, closing campaigns. As conferences and events become more integrated into longer-term, ongoing thinking, what happens in the room will rarely ever stay in the room.

CREATIVE. It’s a cluttered, noisy, fragmented, cynical world we live in. Without some colour and creativity it’s really hard to get noticed. Companies that can find really creative ways to bring their brands and stories to life, staying true to their DNA while responding to human needs, will create the greatest cut through. By 2015, smart conferences will be differentiated by the creativity applied to both content and context, not just good strategic thinking.

What does this mean to abt?

Do you want to be part of the future?

Are you on board?

2 Responses to “The future of Conferences and Events towards 2015”

  1. timhoffmann April 7, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    Yeah I’ll be part of it. While this is self serving for JM’s there are some interesting points. Most importantly for me is the issues around “human”. Regardless of whether or not there will be “Conferences” people will always have the desire for humna contact beyond the percieved contatct they have on line. Is that contact ‘real’ in any way? I think is you ask a 15-18 year old then the answer would be yes and let’s face it these are the beliefs that will be driving the vialbility of “conferences” in the future.

    So yes things will change – they always do ABT just needs to keep changing with them.

    • owenrichards April 7, 2009 at 11:05 am #

      Real or reality is in the eye of the beholder. What is real for one may not be real for another. Online experiences are REAL experiences now, today. What is an experience – something that compels you to change your view of your world – online experiences do this.

      I think the bigger overarching point is about integrated communication – its a no brainer if you are talking to humans it needs to be human and appeal to their hearts and minds. If you are talking to Goats then it needs to appeals to what a goat….

      If you are integrated you affect the hearts and minds of many. If you are not then you affect the hearts and minds of a few.

      Its not what you do it’s how you leverage it, and extend the experience over time beyond point-in-time communication. And that is context.

      JM understand this and have runs on the board doing it.

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