In 2008, Julius started the Event Planning and Event Management LinkedIn Group. With more than 270,000 members it has become the de-facto largest gathering of event professionals online.
Technology, entertainment and public advertising have literally burst into the event industry — the most popular organizational trends have demonstrated this. However, if we talk not only about the digital aspects, what for you is an integral part of any event?
What I am seeing is that technology is fuelling a new wave of meeting design. The event planners and attendee communities are coming together. There is an incredible amount of discussions happening around events, all accessible to planners. Meeting design is again taking a central role as technology is posing new challenges. Events have changed more in the past 5 years than in the previous 50.
We can expect more meaningful experiences where the environment, performers and attendees come together and blend. Items such as the choice of food and sustainability are being reconsidered as playing an integral role in how the experience comes together.
Event managers shift focus between operational management, logistics and management costs to show the true significance of the "trade show" as a tool for marketing and sales. What, in your opinion, can facilitate their task and help them set goals to participate in business events and evaluate their performance? What should they pay attention to in the first place?
The thing is that they shouldn't think of trade shows as mere marketing and sales opportunities. We used to attend trade shows as unique opportunities to get exposed to new products and learn about the market. In this traditional perspective, trade shows are dead. I don't need to get exposed to offline spam, I can just research and learn online.
Where trade shows succeed is in bringing large crowds of attendees together, offering content and reinforcing relationships. Hosted buyers models and 1-on-1 appointments are the way of the future if they are carefully planned, ethical and meaningful. Technology can help a lot.
Trade show attendees are thirsty for content, they want more and more. Trade show organizers should think about creating hybrid models where business happens around content and carefully select their audience to match their sponsors' needs.
What do you think will change in 2016 concerning B2B and B2C formats? Do you agree that there is a third format — C2B (customer to business)?
I don't think much will change. What we've seen in the past 10 years is just becoming stronger. The lines between B2C and B2B are blurring.
Corporate communications need to be as fun and engaging as B2C ones while being aligned with their business objectives. The conversation with customers is a year long engagement that needs to be nurtured in dozen of touchpoints and through multiple facets of content.
What do you think is the strongest tool to involve the audience?
Any tool that aligns with the content of what's being discussed and provides a quick return. I am a fan of live interaction tools such as slidesharing or Q&A apps. Within a conference environment and in some types of sessions they are extremely powerful. The question rather than 'what tool?' is 'does it make sense?' – can you provide value to your audience?
What tools would you call temporary trends, and which ones are must-haves?
We've seen a lot of great ideas come and go. Fantastic concepts that probably will fade away with time. There are three types of technology tools that will stay: online registration, mobile apps and engagement tools. They will probably become one category as we note more and more that boundaries are blurring.
What do you notice first when you come to an event?
The set up, the wifi, coffee, how vigilant and in control the staff is and whether they look confused. That's just me though.
What must the client and event agency never forget when organizing an event?
That it is about delivering on the business objectives. Show me the money, don't sell me crap statistics of a 1M reach on Twitter or Facebook. It does not mean anything. Did you help make sales, did you measure a change in perceptions? Show your clients that you understand how business works while being creative.
What have you based your research on concerning trends for 2016?
This is the result of a 5 year long research on the latest startups in the Event Industry. We have a database of thousands of startups we review each year to see where the general direction of event technology is going.