BE Industry | Our Understanding

This is a people-to-people business. Period.

It is all about building, maintaining and improving those personal business relationships, not only in times of difficulties. The business events (BE) industry has been in a transformation process for quite some time. Ways of engagement have changed. Content, structure and formats of business events have evolved. Live and virtual channels have started to become one. And then Covid-19 happened. After a first phase of understanding and coping with the unprecedented situation and the complexity of its consequences, it became clear that Covid-19 acts, first and foremost, as an accelerator of this transformation, and not as its principal initiator.

Turning challenges into opportunities  The Covid-19 pandemic has offered our industry a unique opportunity to finally dare and cleverly break old habits and structures. It is levelling the playing field for all players in the international business events industry. And not necessarily the big ones, but the SMART ones will be the comeback winners and become new leaders in that transformation process. We are also convinced that our business events industry can become a fast and efficient driver in any economic recovery plan and journey.

Hence, now it’s the outstanding moment and chance to rethink, redefine and redesign the purpose and value proposition of our business events industry. By doing so, we might also finally get rid of some very old and unfitting definitions, wordings and alphabet soups. But it’s neither only about the so-called virtual revolution nor the mere adaptation of the destinations’ infrastructure, logistic and hospitality services to the current and post-Covid-19 market. And it’s not about finding the new normal. It’s about creating the next normal.

The term SMART has, of course, great many definitions and meanings, as well as it depends on the context it is used in. Our understanding for SMART is best defined by the following adjectives assigned to each of the words’ five letters and based on an original quote by Gerrit Jessen, our Enited Network of Excellence partner.

In addition, to create more purpose and meaning, we have designed a set of 3 attributes for each of those adjectives.

  • Sustainable
    holistic, impactful, inclusive
  • Mindful
    aware, conscious, observant
  • Agile
    collaborative, adaptable, responsive
  • Reputable
    reliable, professional, transparent
  • Transformational
    visionary, encouraging, resilient

Our definition of SMART requires, most of all, a change of mindset, of principles and of behaviour from destinations, in its future involvement and engagement in the business events industry. That will naturally lead to a review and an adaption of the business tool-set currently in use, to create those mentioned, new business opportunities and success stories.

“The biggest challenge for every BE destination is the complexity of its own stakeholder world”

BE Destination | Our Vision

Becoming a smart destination.

Those destinations who have understood that they are part of the live communication industry. Those who market their destinations as live communication platforms and enablers, instead of geographically defined infrastructure and hospitality locations.

  • It’s all about values, emotions, storytelling, authenticity and trust.
  • It’s about building and engaging whole communities in a destination rather than continuing to market or sell products and services of a destination.
  • The focus should be on the cocreation of an engaging working environment of exchanging information, sharing ideas, creating new knowledge and initiating solution-based action for the individual benefit of every involved participant.
  • By widening the scope and scale of local involvement in the -destination, beyond the infrastructure, logistic and hospitality providers, it will add value to every business event.
  • It needs a new definition for the “Five Ps” and a better understanding for the principles of destination marketing (SAVE), in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) marketplace.
  • Becoming a SMART destination is more than the adaptation of strategies and tactics or structure and processes. It needs the mentioned change in mindset, of principles and behaviours.

Consequently, it needs a new way of matching clients’ expectations with value propositions of destinations, which …

  • … breaks the current practice of commodity traders for infrastructure, spaces and services, based on existing demand and supply.
  • … aims to improve the many times inefficient, inaccurate and standardised process of buying and selling.
  • … leads to a new form of collaboration, with common goals and by joint efforts, beyond the rigid client and supplier relationships.

At the end of the day, it defines a new generation of business events by engaging both stakeholder “worlds” and by creating added value, together, for everybody involved. A destination which stays connected and relevant for all industry stakeholders, be it the local destination partners or the international (potential) clients. Transforming the destination into a communication platform of knowledge and experiences, make use of business events as catalysts for development and growth and generate educational and economic legacy in the city, region or country. And creating a stage setting for the future of international business events, where people come together in inspiring surroundings, experience new ideas and innovations, and engage in the design of solutions.

Journey | Our Roadmap

Leading the way.

To embark on this journey, it takes willingness and courage, daring to step out of the current rats’ race of selling destinations. And it needs a clear and practical roadmap. In cooperation with our Enited Network of Excellence partner, Angeles Moreno from The Creative Dots and based on her CX Design Playbook, we have created an experience-based methodology, defining three major phases or stages in this evolution process.

“To embark on this journey, it takes willingness and courage, daring to step out of the current rats’ race of selling destinations”

Stage One | Discovery

Why should you become a smart destination?

  1. Assessment  Using strengths-based methodologies, for example Voice of Customer (VoC) or Voice of Employee (VoE), to embrace leadership development and organisational change and to understand the actual customer event journey, including stories of failure and success.
  2. Persona  Defining for whom you build your value proposition. Empathise with and observe their problems.

Stage Two | Evolution

How do you become a smart destination?

  1. Talent  Identifying leaders of transformation within your organisation, as well as in your external stakeholder world, to become agents of change and to build a winning team.
  2. Design  Rethinking your value proposition and redesigning the customer event journey (customer centric and after a segmentation process.)

Stage Three | Transformation

What makes you a successful smart destination?

  1. Implementation and Evaluation  Making it happen and real with clearly defined guidelines and processes, through individually designed coaching sessions.

Results | Our Take

Demonstrating competence, showcasing excellence, documenting relevance.

The biggest challenge for every BE destination is the complexity of its own stakeholder world, made obvious by the diverse, individual definitions for purpose and goals (why) and the different views on the rules of time (when). Hence, any success story needs to include both the “quick wins” and the sustainable impact. And becoming SMART also means a new way of measuring the success. It needs a smart way of defining, collecting and analysing data, beyond the big data formulas (for example, bed nights, coffee cups and individual spending).

What are some of the main benefits for becoming a SMART destination?

In our opinion, it will give those destinations who dare to set out on that journey, the decisive edge in a very competitive, international business events market and create the needed differentiator for the BE destinations’ future value propositions and its success story.

  • Building new and stronger relationships across and beyond the rigid client and supplier definition.
  • Creation of a think tank platform of decision makers and experts, generating concrete results.
  • Demonstrating new ways of client engagement.
  • Creating additional stakeholder value and involvement in the destination.
  • (Re)Positioning the destination through thought leadership.
  • (Re)Defining the value perception of the business events industry.

Closing our thought leadership paper on SMART destinations, in a nutshell, we call on those destinations who not only want to get ready to face the future, but would rather define their own future. Be daring and bold and set the course on your own journey for becoming a SMART destination.