DMCs: SLEEPING GIANTS THAT NEED TO EVOLVE WITH TECH - 2 YEARS ON
Do you remember a controversial but extremely popular event which I was was a part of?
We always loved working with Irina Graf and the MICE BLOG team and event planners talk. The MICE BLOG never shied away from covering important topics and hosting challenging debates. So, when we spoke with Irina about doing something around technology and digitalisation of the MICE industry - we knew this is a hugely important topic that needs covering.
Caleb Parker from Work Bold was also a hugely important figure, in getting this topic and this event to a live stage in London.
Back in 2018, I co-founded and raised investment in the technology startup industry. It was for a platform for the MICE industry, with virtual site inspections - TUNREDSEE. Although winning a few awards, we did not get the traction we were hoping to get as the industry was not ready, therefore the funding dried up (along with few other things which I might tell you some other time).
People kept saying, that nothing can replace in-person site inspections, in-person travel, in-person events, in-person business. Although we never said REPLACE - we said technology can add to your business and you have got to be ready when the digital revolution of the MICE industry comes. Many overlooked the point which we were pushing forward back then: this is not about which is better. This was about the digital revolution which is coming and if your business (DMC /MICE agency for that example) is not ready to embrace digital, you could be dead.
CIT magazine has also covered the event and wrote a very insightful article with a very adequate design of their cover (as the event was hosted on Halloween).
They quoted me in their article:
"Pauline Kwasniak, founder of TurnedSee thinks that boutique DMCs who hire locally will have a tactical advantage. But this does not negate the impact that tech is having on a millennial market: "There are a lot of new buyers in their 20s that use tech and apps and want different solutions, and if we all pretend that’s not there, we are all going to lose out," she said.
And when other panellists told us that corporate clients want to control and therefore cannot use technology or digital tools, to research or run their events, I said (quoted by CIT magazine).
Kwasniak disagrees. She said: "Corporates don’t care about control. They care about compliance. We have tech to simplify research and connect to real people that can give them a quote and supply knowledge."
2 years on and in fact (SADLY) many MICE/DMCs are dead - for now
This is a paradox I could not omit to bring up to you, those who remember our event and those who do not.
Over the last few weeks, I spoke with many industry friends and business owners in the MICE industry. It is truly terrible what has happened but we now must work together to REVIVE our industry WITH TECHNOLOGY. Businesses which are lacking behind on digital and technology, should quickly embrace it and change their business models.
I want to recall some of the most important points, we were pushing during the event 2 years ago, which back then sparked a heated debate and seemed a bit too futuristic to be true. But now from the perspective of the current events, you can truly see what we wanted to communicate.
This was one of the first panels during the MICE industry educational event when a speaker joined the event via skype/digitally. I was away in Derry doing a group trip and I joined this conference from a corner of a restaurant. Even back then, I emphasised the benefit of the flexibility and possibilities that digital gives us, in order to access speaking panellists from all corners of the world (this can also help with diversifying your speaking panels btw).
So anyway, I joined via skype and conversed with the 4 panellists, that were physically in London that day.
As a technology startup founder, I was arguing the side of digitalisation and the need for DMCs and other MICE bsuiness to EVOLVE!!!
We discuss changing the perceptions about technology
"Technology is changing the way we conduct business today in many ways. There are some industries that are dying because of that, and others are complementing their business with technology."
Other panellists argued that DMCs have local knowledge and personal relationships that the technology cannot compete with. However, I argued that we can use digital for research, bookings, site inspections and do all of these processes ourselves, instead of the DMCs. But, if they want to keep the slice of the pie, they need to evolve quickly to also move with the changing times and the need for technology. Back then we did not even think about social distancing of course.
Human + Tech = better product
During the event, I said that "millennial buyers want to interact with events differently, and the way they want to experience and consume the content varies. But this issue is not just limited to millennials, they are just more vocal about it, and there are other people from other generations who feel the same way, and who are now benefiting from millennials. What does it mean for DMCs? DMCs should look to partner with tech platforms, and understand where the added value is. Understand how people want to consume information: online, messaging, social media, phones etc. For a DMC, they should embrace partnerships and technology, and adapt their offerings to the new, younger market and what they really want, find that niche, the USP. "
Many people knew the digitalisation of the MICE industry will come, but they were either scared of it or reckoned it will happen in 10-15 years time. NOT NOW.
I had a totally different perspective: I was involved in 3 industries at the same time.
Digital and content marketing
Events industry and operations (MICE)
Technology and startup industry
Having seen innovation happening in other industries and the sweeping effect it had on the old business models (automotive industry, film production industry, medical industry ), I knew that MICE businesses that function only on old models, could be in really big troubles.
The effects of COVID 19 and social distancing as well as decline of travel services and options, have accerated all digital changes that MICE industry was anticipating.
THE FUTURE (truly) IS NOW.
This is why we have changed our group female event planners, to a digital agency, academy and consultancy, as well as COMMUNITY that will help and promote other professionals in the MICE industry.
Having worked in technology and digital marketing for the vast number of years (Yes I always had 2 careers ), as well as MICE industry, we are equipped to help and assist eventprofs, in order to become more digitally savvy and digitalise their businesses.
I invite you all to subscribe to our blog here at femaleevntplanners.com
We can no longer pretend that technology has NOT changed the MICE industry, and we all need to get digitally savvy. We will help you.
You can read the original article from MICE BLOG here
You can read the CIT magazine article here