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IMEX Frankfurt: Purposeful Meetings Go Mainstream

IMEX Frankfurt: Purposeful Meetings Go Mainstream

Event highlights our industry’s commitment to building a better future

Many of the world’s most respected brands are becoming very active at promoting how they are helping to make the world a better place. This macro trend was highlighted in our recent TrendLab update and our global outlook content — and was also a big area of discussion at IMEX Frankfurt. This area of focus is also influencing how brands are incorporating these values into the design of their event experiences.

Increasingly, our industry is looking at the ways it can bring corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities to the forefront, making them an integral component of the overall experience. Salesforce, for example has continued to foster CSR through it’s 1% programme, and it presents an annual concert for the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco, where millions of dollars have been raised for children in need. Back in Europe, Mobile World Congress has created a Mobile Explorers Programme for eight to 15 year-olds, allowing them to experience the technology of the event first-hand, plus the organisers are applying for sustainable event certification, and they have launched a number of programmes to support schools and charities in Barcelona.

It’s clear that brands now want their event experiences, in addition to serving their commercial interests, to also do good. Even today’s event content is beginning to focus on attendee wellbeing and how the event can help to make a difference in the world. There is also a growing number of highly influential, social good agenda setting at conferences and events like The World Economic Forum, Wired, and even at TED Talks. These sessions work so well because they also serve a purpose to inspire audiences to make a positive impact on their own lives and the world around them.

Purpose at Play in Frankfurt

The notion of purpose was similarly high on the agenda at IMEX Frankfurt this year. The event’s theme was ‘Purposeful Meetings: How to plan with deeper meaning, innovation and insight in mind.’ The idea was that rather than the attendees leave feeling a little un-inspired or lacklustre, they would come away from the event with long-lasting, positive perspectives and new tools in their arsenal, which they could apply to their own businesses and events.

It was interesting to see that the majority of the key topics covered in the IMEX content programme honed in on the human psyche and wellbeing: meeting design for the human experience, behavioural science, health and wellbeing, leaving a positive legacy, and technology.

In an interview in the event’s newspaper, the IMEX Daily Paper, Carina Bauer, CEO of the IMEX Group said: “The five values are all core to Purposeful Meetings, and at IMEX we live and breath these values.” For IMEX, living and breathing these values means leaving a ‘positive legacy’ by doing things like reducing the environmental impact of the show, supporting local charities and offering a number of wellbeing initiatives for attendees, which are designed to help them make the most of their time at the event.

Across various sessions, speakers also shared their perspectives on how to make a meeting or event purposeful. Their advice ranged from ensuring that the event organiser and attendees share a common value or purpose or to the use of humour to improve attendee interaction.

So, if IMEX is a measure of the state of the meetings industry, then it looks like the trend for events to become more purposeful has gone mainstream. That can’t be a bad thing — making events more purposeful, meaningful and impactful is positive progress. There is still some heavy lifting to be done to deliver on the promise of purposeful meetings — we often use words such as insightful, innovative and purposeful to describe the brand experiences we create, without seriously moving the needle on social, environmental or wellbeing initiatives. Making meetings purposeful sees us embark on a jouney of the reinvention of our traditional approaches to event planning, but thanks to this years’s IMEX it’s a great start.

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