NPI Media interview: Convention 2020 study

Here’s an interview I’ve just done for NPI Media discussing our current Convention 2020 study:

Q. Briefly explain what the Convention 2020 research programme is all about?

A. Convention 2020 is a ‘strategic foresight’ study which has been launched with seed funding from the founder sponsors – ICCA, IMEX and Fast Future Research. The study is designed to help all members of the meetings industry prepare for the decade ahead and ensure they stay competitive.

The ultimate aim of the study is to develop rich insights into how the industry’s future may play out in order to make better decisions today. This means exploring different scenarios for how live meetings might evolve, considering a range of models of what events could look like and examining the strategic implications for venues and destinations.

The intention is to create a ‘living and growing’ online body of knowledge, case studies and ideas which will continue to expand and develop after the study completes in October 2010. A key goal is to use a highly participative ‘open’ research process to educate and inspire participants. Key questions to be explored in the study include:

•              Design – how is the thinking developing on what constitutes an effective meeting design and how could live meetings evolve by 2020?

•              Participant Experience – What will attendees and exhibitors want – learning, experience, content, style, ROI, technology and pricing?

•              Technology – How will the role of technology evolve in the preparation, delivery and follow up to events – who might provide and fund these technology solutions?

•              Event Owners – What will these needs mean for event owners and managers in terms of the design, marketing and business models for their meetings?

•              Venues – What are the implications for venues in terms of strategy, venue design, services, technology, marketing, business models and financing?

•              Destinations – What are the implications for how destinations promote themselves and influence  the capabilities of local venues?

•              Industry Suppliers – how are the needs of the events industry likely to evolve, what are the emerging opportunities, where will suppliers need to rethink their services, strategies and business models?

Q. Who should participate in this research?

A. We are keen to get participants from across the industry contributing from students to experienced practitioners. We are also bringing in ideas from outside the sector from disciplines that could have a bearing on how the sector develops – covering a range of topics such as the future of learning, economic trends and technology developments.

Q. How can the industry get involved?

A. Convention 2020 is a highly participative study with a wide range of opportunities for interested parties to get involved. These include:

•              Providing ideas on the design of the study and questions to be explored

•              Taking part in the two planned surveys

•              Taking part in workshops that we’ll be running in key locations around the world

•              Contributing to the ‘trend wiki’, blog and social media discussions

•              Becoming an expert contributor

•              Submitting articles and case studies

•              Joining the open sessions at IMEX

•              Following progress on the study website

•              Creating local dialogues at ICCA Chapters, colleges and other forums and adding the outputs to the website

•              Writing essays, creating videos and producing other materials that help stimulate thinking about the future of meetings, venues and destinations.

Q. How will you use social media for this research?

A. We will run a ‘trend wiki’ where people can go in and add their ideas plus expand on other people’s. we will have a variety of discussion forums in the social media.

Q. Is there a danger that such new communications tools will make Conventions obsolete in future?

A. Almost everyone sees the value of face to face and understands the qualitative difference it brings to relationships. However, the cost savings and immediacy of many technologies will create bigger rivals to live events. The challenge for the industry is to step up several gears in terms of the quality of what’s delivered and the provable value of event attendance.

Q. How important is such research in helping the industry plan for the future?

A. We and the other sponsors think this research will be critical in helping industry players map out their preferred futures. To have an impact people have to want to change – we hope the study will provide both an impetus to drive change and a set of ideas on how to evolve to the next level.

Rohit Talwar is the project director for convention 2020 and the CEO of Fast Future Research www.fastfuture.com

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