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This is Why the Future of Event Planning Will Be Based on Digital Platforms


If you need a new phone case, you will likely do what most people today do– type a few quick search words into your browser bar, and lo and behold, in seconds you will be browsing hundreds if not thousands of device cases without leaving your desk. In a matter of minutes, you are able to research, review options, and order a new phone case that can be conveniently delivered the next day, too.

This is just one tiny example of the technology advances transforming the very nature of how we purchase, consume, work and play, and the structure of the economy.

Writing for Issues in Science and Technology, Martin Kenney and John Sysman call this shift “the rise of the platform economy.” They explain, “companies such as Amazon, Etsy, Facebook, Google, Salesforce, and Uber are creating online structures that enable a wide range of human activities. This opens the way for radical changes in how we work, socialize, create value in the economy, and compete for the resulting profits.”

Stephane Castellani, VP of digital marketing at Axway, goes on to define a platform as a “plug-and-play business model that allows multiple participants (producers and consumers) to connect to it, interact with each other and create and exchange value.”

As the phone case purchase illustrates, today as a routine part of daily life, many of us rely on digital platforms to procure just about any good or service. (Subscription underwear anyone?)

The rise of all of these disruptive platforms like Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit, Handy, and many others are the driving forces behind companies rethinking longstanding business models.

And as a new research report from a consortium of German event industry partners reveals, event planners aren’t immune to reinventing their approaches either.

Findings from the report, Platform Economy: New Players, New Markets, New Business Models – Evolution or Revolution for the Meeting World, confirm digitization plays an important role in the meetings and events industry:

“The digital transformation impacts all stakeholders, be it event venue and congress hotel, technology provider, event agency and convention bureau or corporate event planner as well as event attendees. In this context, digital platforms are a crucial element that affects the entire process of event planning. When customers and suppliers can easily meet on a digital platform, it has the benefits described above and, at the same time, the status quo is being disrupted.”

The research validates the benefits to a digital platform approach within events and meetings:

  • Platforms do away with time-consuming searches, price comparisons, and high marketing cost
  • They enable quick search processes, high price transparency, and easy payment
  • Platforms offer lower prices because of transparency and reduced cost for staff

Given the complex nature of how planners and clients work together collaboratively and creatively to plan an event or meeting, how can planners take advantage of opportunities afforded by the digital platform economy?

The report identified several key recommendations for action:

1. No matter what the digital platform provides, the meetings and event industry is still about people. No platform can replace planners’ valuable role in strategic planning, event design, and creative problem-solving. However, digital platforms can automate or eliminate routine processes or tasks.

2. In the future, customers will expect instant information. For venues and planners alike, what shifts need to be made now to facilitate providing real-time information to potential clients?

3. The creation of virtual content will save time and money. As an example, the report calls out using Virtual Reality (VR) viewing of venues as one benefit of a digital platform approach.

As evidenced by disruptive business models and the new GCB research, the platform economy presents a tremendous opportunity for event planners, and the event and meetings industry. Digital platforms reduce costs, foster real-time information exchange, and collaboration, and enhance the valuable human factor.

Put the power of digital platforms to work for your event planning. Click here to learn how Prismm’s innovative event planning platform replaces paper-and-pencil sketches with 2D/3D floor plans and immersive event visualizations.

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