This month, Pegasus invited Ewan Jamieson from our sister agency Ashfield Meetings & Events to spend a week in our Brighton office. We asked him to share some of the emerging and converging trends in live events at the moment.
Ashfield Meetings & Events is a full service agency that delivers industry-leading live experiences for healthcare clients around the world. Last year we managed over 2,500 events in 55 countries, looking after over 140,000 attendees.
I spent last week working at Pegasus and it turns out that our businesses are very similar – not just in our shared clients and comparable cultures, but in the award-winning projects we deliver. Here are a few of the hot topics that are currently influencing our work and the wider events and experiences industry.
1. The Festivalisation of Events
The growing convergence between the business and creative industries, as well as boredom with the conference industry status quo, is disrupting how organisations design events. The music festival market has boomed in recent years (until recently reaching saturation point) and corporate clients who envy the fun and informal format are increasingly flirting with ‘festivalising’ their business events to deliver an entertaining, memorable experience that engages their increasingly-distracted audiences.
Striking the right balance between business and pleasure is key (as is a robust wet weather contingency plan); unlike a jaunt to Glastonbury with your pals there are business objectives to meet. Earlier this year we persuaded Sanofi to try something different and stage an al fresco company get-together for 700 of their UK staff. You can learn more about how we approached the planning of this award-winning event – and see a highlights video – here.
2. Braindating & Peer-To-Peer Learning Networks
Braindating is changing how we can learn at events and it’s centred upon the notion that conversations are the missing link in our modern learning tool-kit. It’s a refreshing alternative to speaker-lead plenaries and PowerPoint-heavy presentations, and empowers individuals to seize the initiative, identify their preferred learning topics and pinpoint exactly what they want to learn, and from whom.
Peer-to-peer learning is a paradigm shift from a passive event audience to an empowered learning community, eager for meaningful connections. Instead of focusing on a small faculty of experts, braindating harnesses the crowdsourced and user-generated content zeitgeist to tap into the specialisms and intelligence of every event attendee and offer a diverse programme of niche content geared towards the varied learning needs of an audience. To paraphrase a cross-stitched mantra my gran had on her bathroom wall – it’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be niche.
You can read a bit more about it, and see what I learned from a guy who works at NASA, here.
Gamestorming – a set of co-creation practices for facilitating innovation – is a great concept to consider when designing team-building exercises and event breakout sessions. As we move towards a knowledge-based economy, creativity and innovation are becoming the keys to creating value. Forget boring old brainstorming – by introducing the notion of a structured game, the usual protocols of life are suspended and replaced with a new set of rules for interaction.
Using this principle, I designed an escape room experience for the pharmacovigilance team at Bayer as part of their annual Patient Safety Day programme earlier this year. You can read a short case study about it here.
4. Wearables & Shareables
From watches to wristbands via smart badges and activity trackers, clients are currently clamouring to get involved with wearable technology. As an event agency, we never use technology simply for the sake of it. But if it enhances an experience, deepens engagement or helps deliver educational elements of an event, we’re all for it.
Next month, we’re managing a pharmaceutical client’s annual management forum for 400 attendees. To simulate the position of the patients whose lives they enhance, we will be equipping each delegate with a Klik smart badge. This will enhance their event experience as they effortlessly swap contact details with each other and receive unique content related to their geo-location.
The project is designed to gather a mass of GDPR-friendly big data which will then be woven back through the event’s content thread. We’ll be tracking attendee dwell time in poster sessions to identify the most popular content and during lunch we’ll even be heat-mapping the catering area so we can covertly analyse how many people make healthy food choices. And I’m sure all at Pegasus, with their Inspiring Healthy Decisions mantra, will be keen to hear how we get on!
If you want to know more about what we do at Ashfield Meetings & Events, please get in touch.