In few places is the buzz about the "experience economy"--the layering of experiences on traditional commodities, products, and services--more apparent than it is at companies' events.
A study conducted by The George Washington University's Event Management Program confirms that event managers who provide a total sensory experience and integrate education and training are well positioned to compete in this new economy. First begun in 1994, the International Special Events Society's Profile of Event Management examined thousands of event managers worldwide and the significant changes in their events over the past six years, as well as what they expect in the future.
One of the most revealing trends between 1996 and 1998 was a rise in events linked to measurable educational outcomes. In 1996, companies produced human resources events more frequently than any other type. Although these were ranked number one again in 1998, the second most frequent type of event now offers an educational component. Training will only grow in importance.
Another trend that will continue is use of the Internet by professional event managers, which rose from 53 percent in 1996 to more than 80 percent in 1998. From sourcing to site inspection to contracting, the Net is rapidly becoming the tool for planning events.
Some say the Web will reduce the number of events being held--but there is evidence to the contrary. For example, America Online surveyed its members and discovered that although the majority accepted a free offer of complimentary services for trying AOL, an even larger percentage enrolled because they were interested in chat rooms. This showed AOL that its success will be driven by its ability to help people with common interests to make connections. This is in line with across-the-board findings that the number of meetings and events is greater than ever before. Despite our ability to teleconference from our desktops, we'll always have the need--and desire--to meet.