3 Reasons Event Professionals MUST Innovate Now 30 Mar, 2017

As an event professional, the risk of putting off upgrades to your personal skill set, processes, and tools is that your contribution to achieving organizational goals goes unnoticed or under-valued, thus reducing support for your events and, ultimately, having a negative impact on your career.

So how can event and meeting professionals demonstrate value to an organization and stay relevant in an evolving business setting? Answer: by maintaining a focus on innovation to overcome the challenges that define our current and future environment, including:


1. A Changing Workplace

In Why the Problem with Learning Is Unlearning, Mark Bonchek writes  that, “In every aspect of business, we are operating with mental models that  have grown outdated or obsolete.”  Few statements more accurately describe  the spreadsheet/binder/to-do list-driven models under which many events  are organized.  But these inefficient tools are not the  problem.

They’re a symptom of a “we’ve always done it this way” mentality that dictates how we plan. Early adopters among our eventprofs colleagues recognize that modernizing is the way to improve efficiency and work more strategically. They’ve “unlearned” old models, to develop new ways of thinking about event planning that better fit the world in which they produce events.


2. A Data-Driven Approach to Valuing Events and Event Professionals

There is no shortage of articles telling us that data plays an ever-increasing role in assessing event performance, and that there is an expectation from our management, colleagues, and attendees to quantify the business value of events.

In the Event Technology Engagement Study, the Event Marketing Institute found that “best-in-class event producers” are making data capture a priority to “better understand their attendees, members, exhibitors, and sponsors.”

Bottom line: if you don’t adopt tools to help quantitatively prove ROI, plan better, and improve the attendee experience, you may wind up losing support for your events.


3. New Competition

In his 2016 State Of The Industry letter, Howard Givner, Executive Director of the Event Leadership Institute issued a call-to-action to all event professionals when he said, “The next generation of event pros has a head start on you…Lifelong learning is required to stay relevant and get ahead.”

Similarly, the American Express 2017 Global Meetings & Events Forecast discussed “A Changing Workforce” that is entering our industry with new skills, a business-driven approach to event management, and the benefit of growing up in a technology-enabled world.

Sure, nobody can work through a to-do list like you can, or knows more about venue contracts than you do, but what other skills will you need to add value over the long-term? Experienced event professionals must evolve their own skills and tools to keep current and competitive in a 21st Century workplace.

Integrating new technology into your event planning process may create some uneasiness. But, event professionals can ill afford to not modernize given the market conditions noted above. Therefore, we close with two words of advice. First, as Ernie Smith of Associations Now suggests, “innovation can be implemented in pieces.” Recognize the urgency but don’t feel compelled to change everything at once.

Second, view innovation as a complement to your existing skill set, not a threat to your job. The “Upside of Automating Part of Your Job” tells us that innovation can offload low-value work to make you more effective at doing the things that technology can’t.

Note: This post originally appeared in the CSELive show edition of Canadian Special Events Magazine on March 28, 2017.