In the future, event logistics may involve fast pass access for attendees who are willing to pay more (think Disney World), Apple Pay or cashless payments, ultra high-tech air travel for VIP attendees and more. Here, a few predictions for the future of planning.
Pay As You Go
Like personal checks, which are practically obsolete, a wallet filled with cash and credit cards will be a thing of the past. We’re on the verge of a payment revolution. “I think it will be possible for someone to comfortably carry around a smartphone and have everything they need,” says David Epstein, marketing and social media strategist at Bizzabo, an event app company. “We’ll see Apple Pay have a bigger impact at events once there is adequate support for a portable reading device. Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square, announced that they would start accepting Apple Pay next year. I think after that happens, organizers and the industry will start seeing a noticeable impact on events.”
Come to Pass
GM of Worldwide Events for Microsoft Scott Schenker developed the Plus Pass idea for a meeting. Inspired by the different packages concert organizers offer fans, the pass provides an upgraded experience at a higher cost for interested attendees. Despite costing 20 percent more than a typical pass, it sold out in 10 weeks, with 90 percent of those who bought the pass saying they would recommend it or do it again. Taking it to the extreme, in the future the pass could lead the way in letting attendees pick a la carte experiences or even pay and reserve prime seating for keynote speeches. It could also allow attendees to skip long lines at meals or registration. “It would be interesting to find out what would happen if we say to pay as much as attendees say it’s worth,” says Schenker. The Plus Pass proved to be a major success; it drove additional revenue and created a more memorable experience for those who purchased it.
Luxury Airlines Take Off
Airlines have one of two options: Focus on budget-minded travelers, reducing seat space practically to standing room only and instituting more a la carte fees, or, make air travel more exclusive, raising prices and providing higher-level amenities. The answer is in the economics. “Airlines make money on first and business class. [Not] coach,” says Donna Quadri-Felitti, academic chair at the NYU School of Professional Studies, Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. Our money is on luxury airlines succeeding and continued contraction of discount airlines—both in number of operators and flights to smaller cities. For planners, that will mean more regional events. “The affordability of regional travel and meetings makes a lot of sense moving forward,” adds Quadri-Felitti.
In 2010, two economists at the University of California, San Diego studied how Americans used their time. They found that parents in the late aughts spent considerably more time with their children than parents in the mid-1990s. To illustrate the point, for the first time this past December, The 2014 Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco provided on-site child care for participants. They wanted their guests to “focus on learning instead of worrying about daycare; turn the conference into a family vacation and know your kids are safe,” according to conference materials. Perhaps more meetings will adopt the idea or create simultaneous mini shows for kids within larger gatherings like the Creative Education Foundation’s conference has done.