We stand at the forefront of a technological revolution that will increasingly affect every aspect of our existence in the years to come. Our professional lives will be impacted by the ‘’fourth industrial revolution’’ and its digital transformation. The event industry is no exception, and the field will need to evolve and adjust to new realities. Over the years, fast pace innovation has been integrating into our jobs and we could have thought that the use of video conference calls and other communication platforms, would have decreased the need for face to face meetings. However, numbers have shown that the demand for international events has steadily been growing in every regions of the world and the need for in-person meetings increases more than ever. It is essential for people to meet in person and international events provide a natural platform for those encounters.
Technology has evolved drastically in the last decades, but human contact is still essential for businesses. Global companies, international organizations and associations need to connect with their clients, members and colleagues wherever they are in the world. Organizing or attending an international event allows to meet multiple partners in person and at the same time. The event industry had to adapt to the needs of its clients and create suitable international platforms for those meetings. As a result, today’s event professionals have to work with international teams across borders and time zones and need to be able to communicate regardless of their geographical location. Innovation has allowed to smoothly follow that evolution and new technologies have helped event professionals to challenge the limits of time and space in order to fulfill the needs of the industry. New technologies offer tools supporting event professionals in that transformation, but some essential skills and qualities can still not be replaced by technology. As a matter of fact, in an international context, it is crucial for event professionals to master English in order to communicate efficiently with partners around the world. In addition, openness and adaptability are key. It is essential to show flexibility and adapt to the new cultural contexts in order to take on the challenges associated with the geographical and cultural environment framing each project.
The democratization of air travel has paralleled with technological evolutions and has encouraged international mobility. Geographical limits have been redefined and working on a global scale has become the norm when choosing the location of an international event. Cities, regions and countries across the world lead a fierce competition in order to attract international events. Governmental organizations promote their region globally in order to appeal to new markets which could potentially bring economic benefits and create employment locally. The selection criteria have also evolved and the geographical location of a destination or the quality of its infrastructure are no longer the only decisive factor. As a matter of fact, destinations offering very different products can see themselves as direct competitors on the same selection process. From a global point of view, decision makers look at factors such as accessibility, currency fluctuations or political stability of the region when choosing the location of an international event.
The fourth industrial revolution will come with challenges and opportunities for events professionals. The event industry will continue to evolve along with technological innovations. Some jobs will no longer exist and might be replaced by technology. On the other hand, new jobs will be created to respond to the evolutions of the needs and trained professionals will be required in roles that do not exist today. Imagining what our job will be in a couple of decades can be exciting, but it is important to prepare for that extremely fast transformation. To this end, it is essential that future professionals have a solid education that not only teach them about what the field currently entails, but that also gives them skills preparing them for tomorrow’s challenges. In a near future, progress made in technology platforms such as Artificial Intelligence will reshape the world. We only need a glimpse at the change it might bring to our professional lives to realize that the tools we are using today will soon be outdated. Consequently, professionals will need to acquire new knowledge throughout their career in order to stay competitive in an environment that is in constant transformation. The fourth industrial revolution is well on its way and we must prepare our students with solid skills that will allow them to embrace the evolutions brought by the next technologies in order to adapt to future changes.