The use of technology to transform, embracing failure and extraordinary event formats all formed part of conversations about event design at IMEX Frankfurt today.
“Access points, seating arrangements, views and lighting – these all matter when it comes to event design. Today’s attendees are prepared to say ‘if I can’t get my needs met, I’ll leave’, explained Janet Sperstad in her session ‘How to attract attention.’
“We try to use natural light where possible and I’m really inspired by how you can incorporate nature into events with simple tricks such as the use of greenery and wooden pallets,” said Matthias Caton, a planner from the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, following Janet’s session.
An industry-wide partnership is bringing people together to plan planet-friendly events. Net Zero Carbon Events (NZCE), an initiative from The Joint Meetings Industry Council to address climate change, is working towards a methodology and guidance to be delivered at COP28 later this year. This is set to help the industry design more sustainable events and will focus on venue energy, production, waste, food and food waste, logistics, travel, and accommodation, as well as measurement, carbon offsetting, and reporting.
Don’t design by default
Turning business events into baby showers was one of the more unusual event formats showcased off the show floor. An immersive book launch took place in the style of a Dutch baby shower to mark the publication of ‘Meetings by Default or by Design’ by Dutch author Mike van der Vijver, founder of MindMeeting. With a set design reminiscent of a Dutch living room with the book – the author’s “brainchild” – nestled inside a pram, the meeting provoked conversations on meeting design and purpose.
Mike van der Vijver said: “Meetings should be purpose-designed. Start with your purpose. If you design by default – what are you missing? It’s time for the meetings industry to step up and lead non-professional meeting planners – and not just with logistics, but at all stages of the process with a coherent and structured approach.”
The Event Design Collective encouraged planners to think about failure as the starting point for event design. What are the top 10 reasons why events fail? was the question attendees were asked to consider. Uncertainty around change, confusion around the team direction, and lack of future-thinking were some of the answers given.
“Beginning the event design process by reviewing what’s gone wrong in the past is a good starting point for improvement. It helps you to figure out some of the immediate needs,” explains Event Design Collective’s Dennis Luijer.
Technology set to transform
With AI currently one of the most hotly-debated topics across the world, PCMA’s launch of a new AI tool for event professionals was timely. Sherrif Karamat, President and Chief Executive Officer of PCMA, explained: “Artificial intelligence has quietly been a part of our lives for many years, but it’s in the last few months, with the widespread accessibility of interactive tools like ChatGPT, that that reality is hitting home. The potential social and economic benefits of AI are so profound that the question is not if we will use AI, but how. And the how, we believe, must begin by putting our humanity front and centre, doing all we can to make sure that AI works for us — both collectively and individually — in positive ways.”
Also talking about AI was David Crais CPO of SYS Labs who encouraged his audience to embrace an imminent future where every attendee has their own Web 3 wallet which serves as proof of registration, visitor badge, token holder (for currency) and more. “If you’re familiar with the Event Design Canvas, Web 3 solves your entry point challenge and journey,” he said.
“Think of it this way,” he said, “HTML is to the internet what a wallet is to Web 3. A wallet is simply a browser but, more than that, it’s an entry point to a decentralised system that’s more secure and more personalised. Combine it with AI, and some virtual assistant functionality and you have a ‘wisdom keeper’; rather than your personal data living in the cloud where it’s both hackable and effectively owned and stored by a third party, your wallet lives on your phone and is your own personal property.”