Events Need to Change. Let's Start with a Survey.

Originally published on LinkedIn August 8, 2022

By Dahlia El Gazzar

We hear this every day.

In the world outside of events, change is well underway. Yet, trade shows and many conferences look and act exactly the same as they did in 1975: grid-style floor plans, square booth spaces and stale conference content.

If we’re going to collectively change event experiences and design, we’ve got to think about how we got here and what we need to do about it.

Take this survey to get your brain juices flowing and keep track of how many boxes you’ve checked off.

QUESTION #1: Why is change so hard?

 Entrenched industry infrastructure.

 Reliance on old beliefs.

  Changemakers are overwhelmed.

 Risk aversion.

 Expense of change.

QUESTION #2: Why isn’t change happening?

Maybe it is. It’s just too slow to notice.

All the entrepreneurs are gone.

For trade shows, at least, venues are built around grids, and grids can constrain event design.

After the chaos, people want normal, and normal is same old, same old.

People are afraid of change.

QUESTION #3: Why is change such a relevant topic now?

Generational transition.

  The economy is undergoing change: inflation, potential recession, staffing shortages.

  Participants have more channels for buying and learning besides events, hence we need to think about staying relevant.

 In-person events have proven not to be resilient.

 Business runs on simplicity, flexibility and scalability–in-person events have trouble with those.

 Remote work, to which the workforce has grown accustomed (and many employees prefer), can’t happen for in-person events.

QUESTION #4: What do we need from the industry?

 The will to innovate or die.

  More experimentation.

  Industry-wide support for change.

  Other? Comment on this post.

How many boxes did you check for each question? If you’ve checked way too many boxes than you’re comfortable with, you need to do something about it.

The desire for change isn’t an admission that the live event channel is obsolete.

Not at all.

But because the world is changing, events and the event industry need to change too.

We need to design for what the audience wants.

Do you know what that is? Comment on this post here.