Around 950 event industry professionals attended the 55th ICCA Congress in Kuching, Malaysia to discuss the key industry trends of today and tomorrow, and take a look at how they apply to different markets across the globe.
It was great to see delegates engaged and actively participating in the various sessions throughout the four days, including the Tech Wizards look into their Crystal Balls! panel, where I and another two industry professionals each had three minutes to discuss one or two of the industry’s biggest future trends.
What Does the Future of Event Personalisation Look Like?
It was interesting to see that, while each presentation was unique and thought-provoking, in one way or another we all touched on the idea that event personalisation or customisation will be key to the event experience moving forward.
I delved specifically into the idea that brand experiences, while already well on the way, are becoming even more personal and relevant to the individual attendee at any given event. We see a big shift from the mass publication of information to a mass customisation approach, where a wide range of content is created around an event and then a carefully curated selection is shared with the individual attendee, depending on what is considered relevant to them.
Leveraging Data to Make Experiences Personal
Data is constantly being collected about each and every one of us, and we have the opportunity to unlock its true potential when it is used on a more personal and relevant level. This personalisation piece is aligned closely to big data (small data fits in here too), because the data capture process enables us to gain insight around what attendees want, their likes and dislikes, and even how they behave at events. This information can then be used to inform how we deliver events in the future.
Event app technology is a great example — while it includes general event information like the schedule, list of attendees, and details about networking opportunities, the tool can also capture data about each user based on their behaviours.
I predict it will soon be the norm where event app companies utilise this data to customise the information they display to suit the individual’s needs — it will become not just the event app, but the attendee app too.
A Standout Session: Giving Back the Control
I also had the opportunity to attend various sessions during my time at ICCA. One that really stood out was Building Bridges in a Broken and Unequal World: What can leaders do?” where Jonathan Jansen, Vice Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State, spoke about his unique leadership approach. Interestingly, Jonathan doesn’t see himself as the head of the university, but the one who is led by its students. He believes it’s important to be open and collaborative, and give others some of the control.
This approach is playing out in the events industry — more and more we’re giving our audiences the control. We’re inviting them to make decisions about the types of content they want to see, the topics they want to learn about. The success of events is ultimately decided by the participants, so it’s incredibly important that we listen closely to what they want.
His point about collaboration is an interesting one, too, as in most cases event success isn’t achieved when one party delivers an event on its own — this is usually realised when organiser, supplier, and venue collaborate, resulting in the delivery of memorable experiences for attendees that crucially meet objectives and client expectations.