Thought Leadership in the Meetings Industry

Write something about thought leadership in the meetings industry, says my content team….

Well – here I sit and think: what is the meaning of thought leadership for me? What can it mean for you? Doesn’t everyone have a different and very subjective view on what is leading his/her thoughts? Depending on what they are interested in, working for, aspiring and admiring? And then what level of leadership is needed at a certain point in life. So a definition of thought leadership is more about YOU than a valid way to check where our industry stands.

For example for us at tmf dialogue, thought leadership would be seen in subjects supporting destination marketing and how to present great content to audiences. My spontaneous favorite for thought leadership is THE ICEBERG project about case studies leaving a legacy in a destination and how to measure the impact of that legacy – the soft factors behind the economic value of congresses and meetings – beyond hotel nights, venue rent, catering etc. Knowledge shared, professional growth, inspiration, trendsetting, initiating change for a society – things like this. I think their leadership lies in both a strong dedication to identifying the purpose and meaning of big events and in the realization that politics hold the hand on budgets and they need to understand the full math behind a project. See by yourself – here is the link to the website of the project, which is an initiative of JMIC, the joint meetings industry council: www.the-iceberg.org

Looking beyond the individual view at our space in the industry and trying to analyse the thought leadership topic more generic for the industry as such, the educational program of IMEX Frankfurt seems to be a good example: they can provide a realistic overview of what are strong trends in the market – so it is the thought leadership of IMEX to select and follow trends they see and prepare the educational program accordingly. Basically thought leadership can be seen here as a strong commitment to find new solutions for challenges we face in the meetings industry.

An organization like IMEX offers (and must offer) thought leadership. A good example is the new EduMonday – shaping an extra day of workshops and educational sessions for the visitors of IMEX. Realizing that all these hard-working people exhibiting or visiting the show have no chance of participating in the great educational program, IMEX installed an extra day for the meetings industry to benefit from great speakers and cool topics present at IMEX and also provides the opportunity to win an Event Design Certificate. So a full day of premium education comes at the cost of one extra night only – that is a unique way to support the growth of the meetings industry.

This year’s focus at IMEX is “Purposeful Meetings” , which continues with the IMEX tradition of adding human touch to the frequently stressful profession of organizing and attending meetings. Accumulating previous years’ concepts of green, sustainable concepts and healthy programs, the 2017 focus consolidates single aspects into a whole philosophy for the organization of modern meetings.

Young technology start-ups originating from Germany have founded the ZEUS EventTech Academy – they will also present at IMEX in Frankfurt and aim at using new formats and their own technologic developments to engage their audiences and show new ways to meet and interact during conferences and meetings.

For me personally, thought leadership lies first of all in professional and thoughtful “curation” to give directions – of everything possible. There is too much of everything and it needs specialists who understand a topic well enough to critically evaluate solutions, content, themes, knowledge etc. Any good art exhibition has a curator, but our industry is may be underappreciative as of how much good and trustworthy curation can help everyone saving time and resources. Curation is shown in new associations – like ZEUS, in focus on special aspects like THE ICEBERG and last but not least in selecting educational programs for the leading get-together of the meeting industry at IMEX Frankfurt who run a major and excellent curation job.

Also, we at tmf dialogue are curators – of relevant content about smart destination concepts, of presenting local knowledge to congress planners and other innovation fitting in our tmf-dialogue.net categories, carefully picked for our readers!

The second and just as important part of thought leadership has to do with the very essence of being a leader. Because a leader is a person who knows exactly where he would like to go and what he would like to achieve, and he or she understands that this can only happen by engaging a group of people, a community, by providing them guidance and support, so that eventually they go out there and make things happen. In other words, if there is any change we passionately want to make happen around us, we have to care about it, show up and contribute to the community.

Johanna Fischer



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