Transformational. It sounds like a big feat, and it is. But if your meeting doesn’t help drive some sort of transformation of participants, you might need to re-think the “why” behind the face-to-face.

It’s our business to guide transformations. Not only is it our vision at Creative Group – to be creators of business changing experiences – but now as an industry, if we are not continually striving to transform the lives and businesses of our participants and clients, we are failing.

Why Transformations Now?

People once had to meet face-to-face to simply communicate. As technology rendered this paradigm obsolete, the value of face-to-face shifted as well. There is no longer a need to get together to convey a message, but rather to create an environment where a message can be morphed into new insights, actions can be taken, and transformations can be observed.

The desire for transformation can be seen in these examples from two specific industries – Wellness and Luxury Travel.

According to the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness industry was a $3.7 trillion market in 2015 and is expected to grow 17% by 2020. And it’s not just physical fitness people are looking for, it’s an overall focus on mental well-being and self-care. In fact, fitness magazine, Shape, reported on a survey by a wellness tech company which found that in 2018, “72% of millennial women are moving away from solely physical and financial goals to make self-care and mental health their priority.”

The concept of “best-self” is further witnessed in luxury travel where there is a shift in the importance from what you can do and where you can go to who you can be. A special report by Skift and Marriott International agrees, stating, “the internal journey is becoming equally, if not more, important as the physical journey for more luxury travelers, who increasingly seek out destinations, accommodations, and experiences that help them realize a version of their idealized self.” The survey results from the report further back this up with over 50% of respondents ranking the importance of transformative travel experiences at least 7 out of 10 or higher.

New Experiences Lead to Transformations

A Smart Meetings article about the rise of transformative meetings written by Dan Johnson chronicles “The Growing Need for Purposeful Programming.” The article interprets this as making meetings more “retreat-like gatherings that are much more informal, spontaneous and collaborative, and focus on attendees’ holistic personal and professional growth by offering wellness and culturally enriching options.” This view is further supported in the article by Bree Brostko, with Kindred Hotels and Resorts, who said that, “New experiences, whether they be in the new locations, or with new cultures or new food, expand our understanding of the world and our perception of the world. This expanded awareness is automatically beneficial for both attendees and companies. Employees who leave conferences with experiences can bring new problem-solving perspectives to the workplace.”

Employee Learning Experiences Benefit Companies

The more chances an employee has to learn in and out of their core role, the more they are able to open themselves up to find new and more effective ways of operating. You can read about the role of neural pathways here, but essentially, these pathways in our brains become more engrained the more we have a particular thought; which in turn, makes it easier to recall information and use it in real-time. Doug Upchurch, Chief Learning Architect at Insights, explained that “Once you have an enhanced understanding of yourself and begin to apply it in your life, it becomes embedded into how you navigate your world. From here, you can begin to realize breakthroughs in your life that have previously plagued your progression. After experiencing professional development opportunities, learners can also be particularly motivated to apply the new knowledge derived from their training into their roles.”

Attendee Conferences Can Transform Your Career

A headline that recently got our attention came from Pádraic Gilligan, Chief Marketing Officer at SITE. It stated that attending a conference doubled your chance of a promotion at work. He referenced a Harvard Business Review article by Shawn Achor that explored survey results about the impact a particular conference had on women who attended the conference versus those who registered but did not attend. The results of the survey found that:

  • Attendees were 2x as likely to be promoted within a year
  • Attendees were 3x as likely to receive a 10%+ pay increase within a year
  • 78% of attendees reported feeling “more optimistic about the future”
  • 71% of attendees reported feeling “more connected to others”

While this outcome shouldn’t be expected for anyone attending any conference, Achor points out the elements he believes make a beneficial conference, and in our opinion, a transformative one.

  1. A sense of social connection felt by the attendees
  2. Engaging sessions
  3. Leaders who role model and exemplify the qualities that the conference is attempting to instill
  4. A memorable moment
  5. A realistic assessment of the present with an optimistic look to the future

Every day we have the opportunity to impact and influence the lives of meeting participants by creating transformative experiences. We can help them realize their best-self by providing new experiences and opportunities for learning and inspiration.

 

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