Audience engagement, content and new skills are essential for the future of MICE: PCMA


Putting a participant’s experience first, adapting one’s business model, and reskilling are three key strategies MICE businesses can undertake now as the world gradually recovers, according to industry leader Karen Bolinger.

Bolinger, who is the managing director of APAC for the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), was speaking at the Bringing Strategies to Life: Insights from PCMA’s Business Events Compass session, part of the IT&CM Asia & CTW 2020 Virtual.

Bolinger: think about how conferences can be reinvented, as there is a lot to do to remain relevant to the business

“The challenge is how to design a hybrid event well, how to create a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out), in order to get people to attend the live portion of the event,” said Bolinger.

For instance, Bolinger related how medical conferences have changed during Covid-19. Previously, medical papers used to be presented at conferences, but now, these papers are sent beforehand to the attendees. This has resulted in “deeper conversations” when delegates meet virtually.

Business models must also be tweaked, with Bolinger advising that opportunities should be explored to monetise new channels such as podcasts or social media live-streams.

“There’s a lot of free stuff going on online, so planners have to think about how their virtual event can provide a compelling story backed by solid content to engage, and keep your delegates on your page. Event planners have to entertain the audience, and treat it like a TV show with breaks and interludes.

“Most importantly, content is king. If your content is solid, people will pay,” Bolinger elaborated.

Reskilling should also be a priority for businesses, as virtual and hybrid events will be around for at least a year or so.

It is a positive sign that 70 per cent of planners cite designing digital event experiences an essential new skill, while 68 per cent of respondents were looking to develop new sales, marketing and technical skills in preparation for the post-Covid-19 market.

“All suppliers have to think differently about their skills. You are no longer just a planner. You are a producer, broadcaster, tech specialist, etc. There is a lot to do to remain relevant to the conference business,” said Bolinger.

Other skills that can be acquired include user-experience designers, digital producers, data analysts, as well as safety and hygiene experts. MICE companies should also partner with universities to develop a talent pipeline.

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