Corporate conferences, events and meetings are becoming increasingly important for organizations across a range of industries. Many C-level executives say such real-life gatherings are critical for them to gain mindshare with customers and stakeholders amidst a noisy and distracting marketing environment, and a significant majority (over 70 percent) say they plan to increase their marketing budgets for such events in 2017.
But even as more companies confirm that meetings and events are more important than ever before, many event planners say that creating an event that’s both engaging for attendees and successful in achieving business goals can be complicated. One challenge is rising expectations created by other groundbreaking events like South by Southwest (SXSW), TED and C2, which were once considered to be outside the normal corporate meeting sector. These events’ “festival-style” programming, interdisciplinary speakers and multimedia approach, along with the changing tastes of the younger attendees that flock to such gatherings, is having a growing influence on the corporate events sector as well.
Amidst the shifting expectations created by popular events like SXSW, meeting planners also must contend with a growing range of new event technology tools related to artificial intelligence, event automation and personalization. Deciding which event tools will help meet the organizers’ business goals, and measuring their return on investment can be a difficult process. In addition, growing demands from event sponsors, a critical audience who can often make or break an event budget, are adding to the complicated decisionmaking process facing many meeting planners.
Skift’s State of Conferences and Events 2017 report examines the trends that are reshaping the meetings and events sector across all industries, evaluating how factors like new types of event technology, changes in sponsor activations and shifts in the broader culture are offering new opportunities for executives organizing meetings. It also investigates some of the challenges forcing meeting organizers to fundamentally rethink their approach to such gatherings, as new demands from audiences and sponsors, along with new types of conferences, and bigger questions about how to measure success, remain on many executives’ minds.