Julius Solaris Talks Business Events Industry Trends
January 22, 2019
How will the business events space change over the next few years? What will it take for DMOs to move the needle from interest to event bookings? And how can meeting planners best address the needs of younger generations of business professionals? These questions and more are on many tourism and business event specialists’ minds. Amid increasing safety concerns, continually advancing technologies and businesspeople’s rising expectations, it’s not hard to understand why meeting planners and DMO executives are kept up at night.
Identifying the trends influencing the business event industry is the first step in tackling these questions. DCI recently sat down to discuss these trends and other industry hot topics with Julius Solaris, the editor of EventMB and founder of the Event Innovation Lab, an immersive training program for Fortune 500 companies and high-performance event teams. Solaris is the author of 10 books on event technology, event marketing, meeting design and innovation. In 2015, Successful Meetings Magazine named him one of the 25 most influential individuals in the meeting industry.
We chatted with Solaris to get his point of view on what’s next for the business events industry.
How was EventMB started, and what encouraged you to start the site?
I started EventMB 11 years ago. My desire, which is still alive, was to infuse innovation in the way we do meetings and events. We have been at the forefront of the technology revolution in the industry, bringing research and clarity to the use of new technology such as event apps and event management software.
Where do you see innovation needed in MICE? How do you see the MICE industry transforming over the next few years?
There are two main elements that our industry needs: meeting design and technology. The meeting design piece is key to better delivering clients’ objectives. We need to scrutinize our choices and question whether they deliver on what everybody wants – transformative experiences.
The tech piece is more a question of scalability. There is no way to scale an event without sound tech. We cannot still roll on spreadsheets. It’s 2019! There are far better-integrated systems with plenty of insights – essential to make better decisions. The back end of business events needs to run on better tech systems.
What MICE trends most interest you?
We just published our event trends report, and the main driver this year is transformation. The necessary evolution of experiences is to drive change. That change happens through transformative experiences that stimulate the attendee to take action. Whether it is stepping up their education, meeting new colleagues or letting go and having fun, events need to be ready to foster change.
How does a destination get your attention, especially from the perspective of pitching?
There is no transformative experience without a destination that supports the message. Destination selection has to take into account how that destination will help deliver the message of the event. Cost savings, special treatment and commissions have to be put aside in favor of better event delivery. Second-tier and off-the-beaten-track destinations can help with their flexibility, intimacy and surprise factor.
What destinations do you think are doing provoking work in the MICE space?
I love how some destinations are stepping up their game when it comes to engaging with the event planner community, truly understanding what their needs are beyond the usual fam trips. We have worked successfully with Anaheim, for example, on a more engaging piece of video to talk to forward-thinking planners. I also love how some other players are embracing the challenges of planners and offering solutions to their pain points with strategic help, thanks to their ties to local intellectual capital.
You go to a lot of conferences and speak on a number of panels. What do you think is missing from the public conversation?
There are a lot of taboos in our industry – women’s representation, diversity, alcohol abuse, sexual harassment, bribing, third-party planners’ commission cuts. There is a sense of impotence when it comes to these topics, as very few outlets are ready to cover them for fear of retaliation.
What are some of the nicest venues you’ve visited recently, and why?
I am very excited about eSports arenas. They are the future of our industry, and we have some great examples of those in Las Vegas. I cannot wait to see what this fast-growing part of our industry has in store.
How do you think the MICE space can attract talent and raise the industry’s notoriety?
I believe we still have a long way to go when it comes to showing the benefits of working in our industry. We all like to complain that event planner is the fifth most stressful job, but we don’t celebrate our roles enough when it comes to making people happy, getting them to connect, protecting their lives at large gatherings, sparking innovation, facilitating change. We have to be proud of what we do and brag about it more!
What changes are you seeing in the business events industry? Let us know by sending us a Tweet at @AboutDCI.