IMEX America 2023: Exploring the potential of events to promote cultural shifts

 Tuesday, October 17, 2023 


The power of events in driving positive cultural shifts took center stage during IMEX America’s Smart Monday, powered by MPI.

This dedicated day of learning provided a platform for both buyers and suppliers to delve into the latest ideas and engage in in-depth discussions ahead of the official event opening.

In one enlightening session, Google’s Inclusive Knowledge Lead, Gokul Krishnan, shared his journey into designing inclusive experiences. Inspired by his encounter with Brandon, a young patient battling cancer, Gokul realized the transformative potential of well-crafted experiences. He emphasized that “inclusion is a mindset,” and it’s a fundamental element that everyone should embrace.

Natalie Fulgencio-Turner, Director Creative Strategy at Storycraft Lab, shared her experience as a young Afro-Caribbean woman working in the arts. She highlighted the importance of asking who is missing from the room and making conscious efforts to invite them. She urged attendees to consider the inclusivity of their events, emphasizing that the journey towards inclusivity should be enjoyable.

The key to achieving inclusivity is open and honest communication with diverse voices. Megan Henshall, Global Event Solutions Strategic Lead at Google, stressed the importance of seeking input from those the events aim to include and welcome. She emphasised the significance of focus groups and transparent conversations to ask, rather than assume, the needs of participants.

Designing inclusive events is an ongoing process that demands continuous examination, influence, and active participation, especially in matters related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Amy Calvert, CEO of the Events Industry Council, highlighted that leadership at organizational levels must embrace DEI for it to be effective.

Planners were encouraged to explore ways to meet diverse needs by collaborating with suppliers. Steve Enselein, SVP Events at Hyatt Hotels, explained the shift towards sustainability, healthy eating, and menu customization for diverse markets, catering to dietary restrictions and offering a superior attendee experience.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) was also explored as a tool to personalize event experiences. Heather Munnell, Director, Client Experience at VDA, shared how AI can enhance job performance for meeting planners by streamlining research processes and problem-solving. Alison Jayne of Trademark Event Productions echoed the sentiment, foreseeing AI’s transformative impact on the industry, particularly in site selection and content sourcing.

In a rapidly evolving industry, these insights emphasize the role of events in shaping cultural shifts, fostering inclusivity, and harnessing AI for a smarter and more responsive future.

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