The AIBTM CEO Summit yesterday featured two speakers who discussed the flattening power structure of the 21st century and cultural trends that will affect business in the coming years. Following on from the first event in Baltimore last year, this second summit welcomed a select group of 30 invited CEO’s and EVP’s involved in the meetings and associations business who attended as a prime networking opportunity and thought leadership debate forum.
Attendees anticipated the stream of knowledge and opportunities the summit would offer. “For me, I look forward to the opportunity to hear trends and projections on the future of the meetings industry and business in general,” said attendee Michael Owen, CEO and managing partner of EventGenuity LLC in Nashville. “But as important as anything else is the peer connection.”
Barbara Kellerman, the James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership at Harvard University’s JFK School of Government, kicked things off with her presentation – “The End of Leadership.” Kellerman said leaders are losing power and influence while followers are gaining it. This has led to a flattened power structure, the result of a series of cultural and technological trends that she highlighted.
First technology has sped up how quickly people who had previously little power now can use information as ammunition. Social media has handed instant power to the powerless to change leadership behavior by exposing wrongdoings. Dave Scypinski, senior vice president for ConferenceDirect in North Potomac, MD asked Kellerman if she thought the movement to a flattened power structure mixed with the Millennial generation’s adverse reaction to power could lead to anarchy. She didn’t think so but responded, “Young people will need to figure out new ways to get work done, with a push away from traditional teamwork on projects. Due to their independence, Millennials also are not interested in top-down leadership.”
The second speaker, Sarah Da Vanzo, strategic planning director, trends and culture for The Kaplan Thaler Group in New York, presented “Eggs vs Snowflakes: Competing Consumer Trends Shaping Marketing & Meetings.” Da Vanzo defined customers as “Eggs” – simple, inward-facing, meditative and contemplative, or “Snowflakes,” active, outward-facing, liking variety and interactive. Science says half of the world is one and half is the other and she recommended following general consumer trends to similarly market meetings to specific customers.
Michael Owen, Managing Partner Eventgenuity, LLC added: “In my view after attending maybe half a dozen EIBTM CEO Summits this was the best ever. It was provocative and it gave me inspired thought that I can apply directly and immediately to my business.”
“The main objective of the CEO Summit is to bring new speakers, new concepts and value to everyone’s agenda. We are delighted to see so many representatives from Europe, USA and Canada with us to attend not only this event but to also visit the trade show floor,” said Craig Moyes, Reed Travel Exhibition’s Portfolio Director for the IBTM Global Events Portfolio.