Sustainability, security are major new trends, says report

Alistair Turner

IBTM World Trends Report, released during IBTM World Virtual, underlines the role that the meetings and events industry has to play in ‘building back better’ in the wake of the Covid-19 global pandemic. The industry has been given the opportunity to reset itself and re-imagine what its ‘new normal’ will look like, addressing major trends such as sustainability, technology, security and diversity as areas where the industry can use tragedy to change its trajectory and do things better in the future, report author, Alistair Turner, says.

Compiled using key industry data, case studies and interviews with leading experts both inside and outside of the industry, the report includes inputs from President and CEO of PCMA, Sherrif Karamat; Economist Philippe Legrain; Executive Director, Conference & Events, ExCeL London, James Rees; and President and CEO of MPI, Paul Van Deventer.

Turner says in his report: “Let’s be brutal but honest. At its best, this is an industry that connects society together, crossing cultural divides, affecting learning and discovery, and with the ability to take on some of the biggest challenges humankind has ever faced; it has been the instigator of global change, for the better. It feeds minds, energises opinion and thought, it excites and thrills audiences, leaving poignant and beautiful memories, built on wonderous experiences. At its worst it is wasteful, slow to adapt, and unable to reach crucial parts of society.

“From an industry that has often been labelled the cause of global issues, meetings and events will become the solution to them”
– Alistair Turner


“It is a harsh assessment but one that the industry needs to acknowledge if it is to Build Back Better and to endure the growing number of ecological, political and environmental disruptions that will continue to be thrown at it for many years to come.”

Sherrif Karamat of PCMA says: “Over the next 18 months, PCMA is preparing our members and audiences for a different future, one that is purpose driven, one that focuses on the ultimate customer first, creating products and services for them, not trying to find customers for our products. Recovery will be different; we need to understand that our members and audiences have changed as a result of the pandemic and the resulting economic crises, but this change was happening pre-COVID. The October Business Events Compass indicates that healthcare, telecom and financial services will lead the way followed by technology, education and consumer sectors and in the shorter-term this will take the form of smaller business meetings that are mostly

Turner says: “Looking to this future, the answer, as many see it, is in hybrid, and it’s important to clearly articulate what this means. A phrase used by international meeting planners The Live Group is ‘digital twinning’; the art of creating two events simultaneously, both with the same content, but one tailor-made for a live audience, the second for an online or digital one. The art is, as The Live Group explains, to adapt the event as delegates change from online to offline viewers and vice versa, depending on the global influences around them.

“In short, hybrid is about doing both exceptionally well. It will mean, once again, more pressure on event organisers to be all things to all people; organisers, creatives, strategists, multi-media experts, producers, directors, technicians. In turn the supply chain will need to support them, understanding more than ever that what takes place in the room, is just a fraction of the experience, and the reach of the room far exceeds its physical footprint.

“Society faces a growing number of challenges, from the immediate effects of the Covid-19 pandemic to the economic effects of shut down. From the work society needs to do around equality and race, to how we address the very real climate change crisis. The world needs face-to-face as it emerges out of 2020 to take on these issues, and it will be our industry it leans on to find solutions, create new world orders and knit societies back together. From an industry that has often been labelled the cause of global issues, meetings and events will become the solution to them,” says Turner.