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Charting a Path to the Digital Future of Events in Western Europe

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Ed Scutt
Ed Scutt

Digital Strategy Manager

Freeman EMEA

Embracing trends and multiculturalism in a changing environment.

Until recently, most events tended to follow the same formula. But with the rapid-fire advent of so much new technology and so many engagement opportunities, we’re flying down a path to a new breed of events at breakneck pace

It can be tough to slow down and make sure you’re heading in the right direction. But by taking the time to understand new tools and technologies, and applying them in ways that make sense for your own organisation’s goals, you create a clear events road map that leads you to success.

A path and a crossroads

Just as many companies find themselves at a crossroads of event technology, I too have found myself at a crossroads, both within the industry and culturally. 

After an early career in development and sales, I transitioned into the exhibition industry via a company I founded, which Freeman recently acquired. And now, I’m reminded forcibly of how being at a crossroads and opening oneself up to new ideas can give one the insight needed to choose one’s path. 

Here in the UK, it’s very multicultural. People come from a wide variety of backgrounds and visit different cultures frequently. We’re all intersecting and learning from each other’s experiences and expertise. This makes the UK an exciting place to do business. Being culturally isolated makes it easy to become isolated in our thinking as well, whereby we only approach problems or ideas from a certain direction. A more open mind-set enables us to observe how other cultures tackle challenges. 

As a customer-centric organisation, it’s not just about an open mind-set, though — it’s also about listening. By listening to other people and staying aware of the multitude of ideas and perspectives in existence through initiatives like our Digital Steering Group, we are able to remain informed and positioned to react to event trends and develop new best practices in this rapidly changing world.

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The road forward

The concept of listening to different viewpoints and working with people from different backgrounds is underpinning the latest event trend in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) market: integrating and collaborating with multiple partners. 

In the EMEA events market, there are many players involved. Organisers take care of strategy and marketing but are more hands-off when it comes to operations, which creates an opportunity for other companies to focus on the nuts and bolts of events. We need to embrace this approach fully, with multiple vendors and suppliers partnering together towards a common goal — both for traditional services and technology. 

Technology itself is mimicking the idea of different partners intersecting. Each company uses its own systems and technologies; the challenge is to integrate these technologies so that everything runs smoothly. We will continue to see a real need for experts who are able to coordinate how different systems work together.

Another emerging trend towards collaboration and cooperation has to do with venues. Far from just being a blank space to build in, venues are becoming more powerful, offering their own services and asserting more control. We see this in Germany, for example, and it provides yet another example of how event organisers need to embrace a teamwork approach and be willing to listen to other viewpoints.

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Drawing a map for success

As our industry increasingly resembles the busy crossroads of the UK, with people coming together from so many backgrounds, how can brands and organisations benefit? 

It comes down to having the right guide and map. Companies that choose to work with an experienced event partner that stays on top of the trends and has a strong tech perspective will be better positioned to navigate more easily this new way of doing business. 

As trends emerge and new providers intersect, companies can be distracted by what is new and shiny without understanding whether it will provide real value. A good guide will work with the company to clarify where they want to go, plan out a road map, and get the basics nailed down. At that point, they will be ready to bring in the right partners and the right tools to make the journey easier.

Where will our journey lead?

The future of the events industry within EMEA, and indeed globally, is exciting. New opportunities abound, and it is crucial to remain open to them while still being strategic. 

At Freeman, we consider ourselves to be a 90-year-old startup, shepherding an industry that finds itself with so many more paths, thanks to emerging technology and a breadth of potential partners. It is an exhilarating journey, with yet newer developments on the horizon (one-stop shopping for multiple event suppliers?). By seeking out fresh perspectives, we will continue to grow — and we will help our clients grow as well. 

I am thrilled to be on this journey and eager to see what the future brings.

Feeling trendy? Keep your events on point by exploring the Freeman Trend Lab website.

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