By Maritz Global Events on 10/24/22 5:10 PM
The team at Maritz Global Events recently executed the second NEXT&, a signature event that brings together our team, invited clients and supplier partners. And this year, one that put attendees squarely in the driver’s seat to drive content and experiences.
What is NEXT&? This innovative event was created in 2021, with the initial goal of bringing Maritz Global Events’ clients and partners back to an in-person meeting. Due to very positive feedback and the desire to continue to be advocates for live events, it was decided to repeat the event again in 2022. And this time, we encouraged our guests to own the experience.
Giving Attendees a Bigger Role
Because our audiences are now approaching events with significantly different expectations post-pandemic, event planners must incorporate the right content and networking opportunities to get attendees out of their offices and on an airplane. While most event planners poll their attendees and send out post-event surveys, our team took it a step further. How? Of course, we listened carefully to post-event feedback in 2021, but we also implemented the following:
- Attendees chose from six meta trends during registration to customize their content and experience.
- They were encouraged to “take over” during their customized half-day session called Futurecast. Our team was excited to see this group jump in and make the session their own.
- Clients wanted more time with peers, so we planned an entire track for them to collaborate, including casual networking time and content sessions.
- Clients and supplier partners were given their own customized track, so they each had plenty of time with the Maritz Global Events team.
- Networking opportunities were added for new attendees, so they could get to know our team and clients.
- Supplier partners wanted more information on Maritz Global Events team members, so we created digital boards with team member information and added roles/departments to name badges.
- Supplier partners loved the freedom to explore, flexible networking options and informal setting in 2021 – so we kept the event space flexible with the Hospitality Hub accessible to everyone and incorporated new casual networking opportunities.
There were also several sessions providing timely and relevant content in customized tracks. A few highlights:
Sustaining the Sustainability Movement
Rachael Riggs, Wellbeing Leader, and Amy Kramer, Market and Product Innovation Leader, lead this important session on sustainability. They shared how we are committed to sustainability and work deliberately to lessen the impact we have on our planet. To accomplish this, we have established a strategic sustainability framework aligned with the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). And how do we help our clients? We encourage clients to understand and execute sustainable practices for their events. We have also created more tools for them, including a robust checklist that helps our event managers and client event organizers make more sustainable decisions.
While it is universally understood that events have an impact on the communities in which they are held, the message is that we should all be committed to a sustainability plan guided by industry standards, service offerings and strategic guidance. Some of our recent initiatives:
- Eco-friendly and at-home badge printing
- Badge recycling
- Adherence to strict waste and energy reduction, recycling and composting protocols
- Elimination of single-use plastics whenever possible
- New digital publication boards to reduce print collateral
- Collectively communicate the industry’s commitment to tackling climate change and driving towards net zero by 2050.
- We are committed to the Maritz Holdings Inc. Sustainability Business Plan and are participating in the EcoVadis sustainability assessment system.
Expanding the Wellbeing Experience
As we continue to emerge from the pandemic era, mental and physical health are top of mind for most of our audiences. During the Wellbeing session at NEXT&, Rachael Riggs shared that Maritz Global Events is guided by the 5 Dimensions of Wellbeing: Personal, Social, Environmental, Career and Financial. These guideposts help us develop events with our clients that address the wellbeing needs for each of their guests. This interactive session inspired a great deal of audience input and some of the ideas that came out of this session included:
- Extend ideas past the morning walk or yoga session
- Plan activities later in the day for those who are not “morning people”
- Incorporate healthy and nutritious food options
- Plan activities that are engaging and welcoming
- Be mindful of the whole person
- Include wellness and/or quiet rooms so attendees can find a safe spot to decompress
- Plan activations that connect people
Attendees are seeking a more balanced experience at the events they attend, so incorporating as many of these ideas will help meet that expectation. The more, the better.
The Power of Inclusion
Apoorva Gandhi, Senior Vice President of Multicultural Affairs, Social Impact and Business Councils for Marriott International,Inc., joined Maritz’s own Marilyn Stowers, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Consultant, for an informative fireside chat on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Apoorva graciously shared his insights and lessons learned as he has lead Marriott International’s DEI efforts over the past few years. A few takeaways:
- Create an environment of belonging
- Listen to understand and take notes
- Meet people where they are
- Younger generations have expectations on the type of culture and environment they want to be in
- They’ll pay more to do business with companies who share their values
Apporva shared a creative analogy to help everyone understand the difference between some of the common terms:
Diversity – you are asked to A dance
Inclusion – you are asked TO dance
Belonging – you are dancing like no one is watching!
The most important thing if you are just starting your DEI journey? Get started and take one of the first steps above.
The Technology Elixir for More Effective Events
How does our team at Maritz Global Events look through an attendee lens to design technology?
Aaron Dorsey, PMP, Vice President, Product Management and Rob King, Manager of Software Engineering, shared the following insights:
- Technology doesn’t have to be the focal point of the experience to be effective. Sometimes the best use of technology is when it goes unnoticed but still delivers great value.
- Don’t create a barrier to a great guest experience by forcing technology on your guests, but instead thoughtfully plan the guest journey from beginning to end, thinking about how technology can facilitate desired experiences.
- Think through how tech is present in all phases of the journey: Announcing, Attracting, Anticipating, Arriving, Entering, Engaging, Exiting and Extending.
Using this lens provides a great way to think about how technology can be applied at each stage, to enhance each experience. In a nutshell, it gives you the opportunity to step into your attendees’ shoes from the time they hear about the event through the time the event is over.
Continuing the Conversation
We have partnered with CampfireSocial, an exclusive networking platform created for NEXT& guests. CampfireSocial is designed around the behavioral psychology of why trade shows work — interconnectivity of community, content and commerce. This app provides an opportunity for our NEXT& attendees to continue conversations after the event.
Our team at Maritz Global Events is currently planning for our 2023 signature events. Stay tuned for more details and how you can attend or get involved.