It took our face-to-face industry only two years to essentially recover from the most serious pandemic in more than a century. The industry has managed to deal with global inflationary pressures not seen in a generation. On top of that, we have faced new wars and growing geopolitical tensions. Despite all of those challenges, our industry has recovered and returned to growth mode. And as investor fantasies around the metaverse and virtual events imploded, there is no lack of investors willing to put their money into our industry and our core business model. All of this is quite remarkable. It speaks to the power of our industry and our business model. We build and operate marketplaces and meeting places where people come together in person. The value of that simple model has been proven once again. So — are we all good to go for 2024? As every year, the UFI team has been listening to and talking with our members and industry leaders from all around the world to get their views on what lies ahead next year. Here, in five concise themes, is our view on what will shape the next 12 to 18 months. Focus, focus, focus on the changing customers All our conversations and surveys show that our industry is focusing ever more on the specific needs of our customers. As much as this should be a given for every business, it is here that we see expectations and demands evolving ever faster. This includes everything from real-time data on the show floor to DEI policies, from carbon budgets to matchmaking, from pricing structures to year-round activations. In 2024, we will see a lot of learning and adapting, with many of the new, young talented people who join our industry putting their skills from other industries to work in our changing industry. Climate crisis regulations In 2023, for the first time, the global surface temperature partially tracked 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than in pre-industrial times as planet Earth experienced the hottest year on average since the dawn of humanity. Extreme weather conditions will lead to more frequent show cancellations and postponements. They will also impact travel and show attendance. Climate-related reporting standards are being introduced. More and more businesses are prioritizing their investments to match emission targets. The Net Zero Carbon Events Initiative delivers good practices and evolving industry standards, but our industry will need to speed up and go beyond the “low-hanging fruit” if we want to remain in control over how our industry responds to this very real threat. AI is here, and it is a gamechanger The launch of the original iPhone on Jan. 9, 2007, became a watershed moment for many industries, including ours. As smartphone penetration grew, the way we organized and served those on our show floors around the world changed dramatically. Nov. 30, 2022, 15 years later, will go down as a date of at least similar relevance – Chat GPT was launched publicly on that day, currently the best-known example of generative artificial intelligence (GenAI). After the initial hype around it, it is clear that 2024 will be the year in which businesses will very quickly begin to use GenAI to drive developments – and yes, this includes our industry. Reinforcing our identity Our industry has just delivered a spectacular comeback, but few people have taken note of this, be that in the media or our stakeholder communities. We still struggle to find our voice as a unified industry, and we often still “sing out of tune” when we present the story of our industry to the world. While this remains an issue across the diverse event industry ecosystem, there is progress in aligning ourselves around new narratives. Advocacy efforts focused on event industry issues, talent acquisition and regulatory frameworks are receiving more attention, and we are seeing some success in industry perception and positioning – both locally and globally. We need more of this in 2024. Industry consolidation and new players We will remain an industry with a wide ecosystem of diverse players, but after the COVID pause, industry consolidation will continue and likely accelerate – on the organizers’ side as well as among venue operators and industry suppliers. Businesses of scale are simply better prepared to handle our industry’s growing global complexities. At the same time, a new cohort of launches and fast-growing new entrants will benefit from being small(ish) and nimble. This will allow them to post rapid growth in their respective areas of focus. Related: Listen to our November 2023 podcast with Kai Hattendorf and UFI President Michael Duck about the launch of an UFI regional chapter in North America Don’t miss any event-related news: Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter HERE, listen to our latest podcast HERE and engage with us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn!
Voices of the Future: Elizabeth George, Senior Event Lead, HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition, Informa
Dec 04, 2023
Nov 29, 2023
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Just when it seems like Las Vegas can’t get any bigger, brighter or more exciting for groups, MGM Resorts raises the bar again. The company continues to invest and innovate across its portfolio of Las Vegas resorts, with new attractions and upgraded experiences for attendees of all interests. Remodeled Guest Rooms MGM Grand is the largest single hotel in the world with over 5,000 guest rooms and an 850,000-square-foot conference center. It is home to the newly remodeled MGM Grand Studio Tower—700 reimagined guest rooms with a fun mid-century vibe. Nearby, the iconic New York-New York Las Vegas Hotel & Casino recently completed a $63M redesign and remodel of its 1,830 guest rooms and 155 suites. Down the street, Bellagio Las Vegas is sporting renovated rooms in the Spa Tower with sunrise-inspired decor and luxurious soaking tubs in Premier King rooms after a $110-million transformation. Reinvented Luxury Experiences The Luxury Meetings District, made up of Bellagio Las Vegas, ARIA Resort & Casino, Vdara Hotel & Spa, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Park MGM and NoMad Las Vegas, is now more connected than ever before. A new interior walkway opened this October for a seamless attendee experience – connecting Vdara, Bellagio, and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, guests can now walk from Park MGM to Bellagio in around 15 minutes. New on the scene in the Luxury Meetings District is Cathedrale at ARIA, TAO Group’s upscale establishment specializing in exquisite French-Mediterranean cuisine offering elevated private dining experiences that opened in May. Heralded by World’s Best 50 Restaurants, GQ and VOGUE, LPM at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is opening this fall and will deliver its signature spontaneity and imaginative celebration of France’s Mediterranean cuisine, art, and culture to the unique luxury resort in impeccable fashion. A “New Wave for Mandalay Bay A new wave of enhancements and experiences has arrived at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, including Flanker Kitchen + Sports Bar, an 8,445-square-foot restaurant that opened this June, perfect for pre- and post-game eats and drinks. Event planner’s favorite, Chef Michael Mina’s StripSteak, received a full renovation and now includes one of the largest private dining rooms on The Strip. Retro by Voltaggio debuts a one-year residency with a fun take on pop culture of the 80s and 90s with classic American dishes. An exciting addition planned for 2024 is Swingers, a 40,000-square-foot oasis of street food, miniature golf and art at Mandalay Bay. Most exciting for meeting planners, the 2.1 million-square-foot Mandalay Bay Convention Center is undergoing a complete refresh, with lightened space, added eye-catching art, and improved technology infrastructure for even more flexible space. Energy-efficient digital signage now leads the way with faster internet speeds and new AV options. From renovated guest rooms and meeting spaces to celebrated dining options and dedicated teams, MGM Resorts is dedicated to delivering exceptional and innovative meeting experiences.