– Future trends and opportunities to be a key focus during Middle East Special Event and Exhibition Show 2019
– Dubai poised to pioneer new tech and innovations during EXPO 2020
The familiar call to turn off our mobile phones at the start of events is set to become a thing of the past as spectator participation, through mobile devices and social media, starts to become a mainstay of the events’ industry. This is the prediction of a leading industry expert who is providing a keynote address at the forthcoming Middle East Special Event and Exhibition Show (MESE) 2019 from 8-9 April, Madinat Jumeirah.
Philippe Blanchard, founder of Futurous, global experts in technology and mega-events, explains: “The next 50 years will see the rise of events pitting man against machine, but also increased collaboration between the two and this is creating a paradigm shift in the event industry.
“Already, event attendees are no longer simply spectators, but rather de facto ambassadors and promoters of the events through various social media interactions and their respective audiences. Mobile devices are becoming an integral part of the experience. Phones – and the data they are able to harness – will need to be seen as a key component of any successful event. Interactivity, immersive and tailor-made experiences are made possible by these devices and will soon become the norm.”
Philippe believes only those events which adapt and embrace technology will succeed, and applauds Dubai’s investment in smart solutions as it aims to be at the forefront of innovation. He adds: “The importance of the events industry for Dubai and the wider region means that it has every motivation to be bold and show leadership. It has a golden opportunity to be an early adopter of future trends by putting audience involvement at the heart of its events.”
With Expo 2020 just around the corner, Shaun Vorster, Vice President Strategy & Business Integration, Programming, Expo 2020 Dubai, and a keynote speaker at MESE 2019, believes Dubai is rising to this technological challenge with gusto. “It’s no exaggeration to say we will be pioneering future technology at an event on a scale beyond anything ever seen in this region.
“We’re excited at the potential of marrying an incredible digital infrastructure, including a 5G mobile network, with technologies that deliver incredible experiences for everyone visiting the Expo, whether for business or for fun. These include a cashless payment experience, augmented-reality wayfinding around the Expo and smart city technology that enhances our ability to manage the colossal Expo site. By creating that ecosystem of infrastructure and applications we’re able to prepare for an event at the cutting edge of technology – with the needs of the visitor at its heart.”
Some of the fundamentals of traditional events will never change however, including the importance of strong content in order to attract and maintain the attention of attendees. Alan Kelly, Commercial and Strategy Director at Informa Middle East, explains: “In the UAE’s already over-crowded events market, content is key. Delegates now expect a solid return on their time in the form of key ‘take-aways’ from any event. This could include gaining strong leads, a great learning opportunity, or an understanding of a new industry or market. Without this, delegates will simply not return in the future and the reasons behind past successes will be rendered obsolete.”
There’s no denying how Dubai in particular has a thriving events eco-system, but Philippe suspects that more and more territories in the region will try to replicate and surpass Dubai’s success. “For example, the rapid progress in Saudi Arabia with ambitious projects such as King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), King Abdullah Economic City and of course NEOM, could dramatically shift the balance in the region. However, Dubai and the UAE Leadership have always advocated partnership and collaboration and I am confident innovative solutions will be found.”
As far as the health of the MICE sector in general is concerned, Alan believes pricing structure is key and remains a big issue in Dubai. “MICE is an extremely competitive market place, with more and more hotels coming online and so the desire for hotels to only lease their conference rooms with a minimum amount of bedrooms is, in my view, extremely short-sighted.
“Involving event companies from the outset in event-space planning would also be highly beneficial for hotels. Mixed-use spaces such as design studios and art galleries, offering highly unique and creative event options are really giving hotels a run for their money. It’s crucial therefore that hotels improve their offering in 2019 and beyond.”
The opportunities and challenges facing the events industry will be debated at length from 8-9 April during the Middle East Special Event and Exhibition Show 2019 at the Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. Seminars will include:
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The Special Event 2018 (TSE) is the industry’s oldest and largest tradeshow and conference designed specifically for event professionals in all segments of the industry with 5,000 in attendance. Attendees can select from over 100 education sessions, attend eight showcasing events, network with fellow event professionals, and browse through thousands of products and services on the exhibit hall floor. For more info visit: TheSpecialEventShow.com
Informa plc (www.informa.com) is the leading international provider of Global Events, Academic Publishing and Business Intelligence. Informa has more than 150 offices in more than 40 countries and employs over 6,000 staff globally. Informa is the largest publicly owned organiser of events in the world with an output of over 10,000 events annually. For more information please visit www.informa.com.