María Teresa Yagüe Martín

Our journey to the Future.

María Teresa Yagüe Martín

Since the beginning of 2023, you might have seen on our social media a new way of calling ourselves as ENITED team members: FutureMakers. According to Melissa Hui (CX Director at Idean), “Future Makers are defined as people who act as change agents; they’re advocates for a desired future with the ability and desire to push forward to shape and influence that future.” It might sound a little corny, but we find it perfectly fits the attitude and mindset we always try to imprint in our work, very much in line with our already established SMART vision.

In any case, we felt we needed to turn all these pretty words into something real and thus decided to set it as ENITED’s 2023 goal for the business events industry to progress, improve, level up, under the motto “Be SMART, think FORWARD and embrace the FUTURE”. Still doesn’t sound like a very tangible objective, let alone an easy one, right? Well, the solution to this riddle was to narrow our focus down to three hot, current and relevant topics to work on. Their selection wasn’t a piece of cake either, so let us take you into the journey of finding out what we think the future means for our industry at this point:

Firstly, when planning our business strategy for this year at the end of 2022, we came up with a topic which we felt we could not avoid (or, rather, the topic became too strong and obvious for us not to take it into account): Climate ACTION. In 2021 we already shared our view on sustainability in another blog post where we highlighted the ABILITY of business events to achieve the UN SDGs, versus the usual blaming our industry for its contaminating habits.

Then, in August 2022 we attended Conventa Tradeshow and Crossover in Ljubljana, where a prominent place was given to sustainability in several aspects of the organization and execution of the event. We later actually learnt that the event as a whole was being measured in terms of its carbon footprint. We thought that was a great example of not only talking the talk, but also of walking the talk, taking real action. And this is the direction we want to take with regards to the topic, since the many elements that slip our minds when considering making an event more sustainable, or which are just too difficult to implement in a sustainable way, often lead to think that the only way to truly be friendly with the planet and its people is simply to not hold the event. On the contrary, we think that eventprofs have much to contribute to the topic and can indeed organize their congresses, conferences, etc. while helping reduce the damage produced to nature and society.

Secondly, last year, during the preparation stages for the ICCA Congress 2022, the German Convention Bureau launched a challenge: attendees to the congress had to come up with innovative ideas for the future of the business events industry. You know we love a challenge, so we submitted our entry into Response Room, their selected platform for this purpose, and highlighted the following question: “How to allow the Future generation to take leadership in the business events industry?” (here you have our second topic).

Now, we knew this was not a new question as such, since long and recurrent discussions had already considered the matter of including younger professionals, making them interested and encouraging them to engage in our industry. However, we wanted to take a step further and get away from the typical categorization of generations where the younger ones always learn from the more experienced ones. Instead, our approach was to reverse this dynamic by allowing new generations to take responsibility, use their talent and raise their voice. We strongly believe that, as the future of business events, they also should have decision making power and speak from their own perspective and needs in order to shape the industry according to the present and coming times.

In a nutshell, by the way, that is actually the rationale behind two initiatives where ENITED was already involved: the Forum for Young Professionals and the ICCA Future Leaders Council. The first in the form of a workshop where newbies are the protagonists, and the second in the form of a board where young eventprofs work on current issues affecting ICCA as an association, these two initiatives were ENITED’s commitment for the future of the business events industry until now.

Moreover, apart from the topic on the new generations, we realized after the conversations we held during the ICCA congress that many event professionals are looking for talent but cannot seem to bridge the gap between their well-established methods and the requirements, characteristics and needs of today’s employment seekers (whether young or old aged). This proved that our industry needs to refresh their recruiting processes and rethink their relationship and behaviour towards employees. Many of us are still stuck in the past/present way of doing things, which does not match the fast pace of times. The attraction and retention of (Future) talent, our third topic for 2023, needs to contemplate time flexibility, remote work, open communication, flat hierarchies, support on mental health issues, investment on professional and personal development, etc. Some of these conditions are actually non-negotiables for job seekers at the moment, regardless of their age.

In sum, the little storyline we just described steered us to define Climate Action, Future Generation and Future Talent as our central points for us to work on as Thought Leaders and FutureMakers. With those in mind, taking a step forward is key for us to make this better future happen, so we encourage all of you eventprofs to do the same. Others talk and think about the future, we create it.