Posted February 14th, 2009 by maarten.vannest...
In the US, Suggestion is made to offer Socially Responsible (CSR) projects as incentives to sales teams instead of Incentive trips to exotic places, because these kind of incentive trips are putting the whole meetings industry under pressure. Serious Legal restrictions are imposed on Bail-out money receiving companies and some other organisations impose similar restrictions voluntary, for perception’s sake. When a 55.000 participant conference in Las Vegas is cancelled, it really badly hurts our industry and the local economy. And we currently talk about hundreds or thousands of meetings and conferences being cancelled in the US ...
An alternative incentive is a good idea, but so are “alternative” meetings, with a new paradigm. Meetings with more learning and networking elements like we are dissecting and testing today at Meet Different.
Is our industry not, by the powers that be, for 99% focussing on travel, destination, venue, meals, receptions and parties? Are we not ‘by nature’ limited to level one measurement in the five steps to measuring ROI? Satisfaction is easy to reach when catering to human’s basic needs. In times when people were roaming the planes of the dangerous savannah; was the ultimate state of being not a good meal with friends in a safe, warm and clean place? Only reserved for the strong and victorious?
Catering to those ancient, bodily, ‘lower needs’ is therefore, although costly, an easy and ‘cheap’ success. Happy people guaranteed, because serotonin starts to flow as soon as you nibble the (Belgian?) chocolate.
This industry is a magnet to foodies that love travel, love to decorate and like top-notch environments, and I’m not totally innocent myself. This group is therefore naturally less inclined to higher values like the learning; level two. And are our customers, the meeting owners, that pay our bills, not small hearted macho’s that want to please their subordinate audiences and need to shine on spectacular stages? The wow effect may be expensive, but with enough money you can simply buy it.
And is it not this 'easy' approach that leads to current comments, attacks and regulation?
Catering to the human brain, to our social, cognitive and other ‘higher needs’ is much more complex and difficult and time consuming. And time is one thing that most of our people barely have, doing ever more meetings with ever smaller teams.
Can we succeed to change that paradigm? Can we restore the Body-Brain-Balance and redirect a larger part of our focus to the real reasons why we organise meetings in the first place? It will take more than the next hot topic, the next hype for the next year or two. It will be a deep, thorough and lasting paradigm shift that will transform our industry.
It will take the whole industry, collectively and collaboratively to fully commit to a few long term objectives like a masters degree in Meeting Architecture and a few thousand graduates by the year 2020.
I think time is now and our industry can.