CEO's Message February 2024

CEO's Message
February 2024
Vanessa Green

Dear Reader,

This week I’m at the Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) – the leading trade event for the meetings and event industry in the Asia Pacific region. We’re hearing a lot in the media about the global and APAC macro-economic outlook being cautiously optimistic. Well, I have to say as I spend time on the show floor, seeing the growth of the AIME exhibition and the number of visitors, as well as taking part in the knowledge program, I feel the vibe at conference is positively bullish! It’s fantastic to see and hear such enthusiasm from our clients and industry peers.

I’ve also loved the opportunity to see and hear what’s new in the events industry. My discussions with peers, as well as talks from industry leaders, have given me fresh perspectives on the future of conferences and events. It’s also clear that the big issues in 2024 are sustainability, wellness and the power of bringing people together.

Group of Cliftons staff at AIME 2023

But the hottest topic at AIME is undeniably the speed of change in audience and stakeholder expectations. This reflects the discussions at a recent Cliftons event we held in late 2023 in Sydney. We had Adam Spencer, Australia’s favourite numbers nerd, enthralling a room of almost 300 seasoned event professionals as he spoke about the speed of change in today’s world. Did you know that even our old model smartphones are more powerful than the computer that took Apollo 11 to the moon? I was shocked to know that my old phone had more power than all of NASA’s computers combined at that time, and that an outdated iPhone still beats IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer which famously beat world chess champion, Garry Kasparov, in 1997.

The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, summed up the nature of today’s digital transformation perfectly in 2018, and his words still ring true: “The rate of change has never been this fast before and will never be this slow again.”

The past five years has seen incredible change. Deep learning systems, better renewable energy sources, stem cell advances that are revolutionising treatment of diseases, the list goes on.

And of course, how can we overlook the rise of AI. The boom in conversational and generative AI tools like ChatGPT has been remarkable over the past twelve months, and in some situations, we are at the point where AI can do some of your job faster and more accurately than you. If we accept the premise that the rate of change will never be so slow again, it’s hard to imagine what the next five years will look like.

What jobs will our kids be doing? What new roles and industries haven’t even been thought of yet? What further changes can we expect to the nature of work? Will we move to a fully flexible model where the only KPI is ‘get the work done’? Will a four-day work week be the norm, and a three-day work week the next topic of discussion? How will these changes in the nature of work impact people-focused service industries like hospitality and medicine?

Adam Spencer giving a talk at Cliftons Horizons Event

The only certainty we have is that change is a constant in life. It’s impossible to predict what the future will hold, but it’s clear that the future of work and society, including meetings and events, will be shaped by a range of factors. Technological advancements, changing societal norms and environmental concerns will all play a part.

What I do know is that it’s important to stay informed and be prepared to adapt to change. The risk of standing still is that you effectively end up going backwards, and that’s not a path to future success. That’s why I’m embracing the chance to learn from industry peers at events like AIME. I believe that nothing beats getting together and networking to open your mind to new ideas and possibilities – and I look forward to sharing insights on what’s new in events in 2024 and beyond in a future update.

In the meantime, if you need help navigating the latest options in business meetings and events, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Cliftons team for help. And if you have any views and opinions on the changes we’re likely to see over the next couple of years, I’d love to hear and discuss your thoughts. Don’t hesitate to get in touch or search me out at AIME (or any other event) for a face-to-face chat.

Yours sincerely,
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Vanessa Green
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