Accelerate into the future: 2018 MEA National Conference
End2End Events recently attended the annual MEA (Meetings and Events) National Conference with its futuristic theme, Accelerate.
Accelerate builds on last year’s theme of Reboot – encouraging the events industry to future-proof by forecasting, and being the first to adopt useful technology without losing sight of the human side of events.
This year the conference was held in Adelaide…and it’s the first time I’d been back in 12 years!
Adelaide is definitely a destination worth exploring for your next event. The city feels very renewed but still humble enough to be welcoming. I enjoyed its Melbourne-esque laneways with small eateries and bars, and throughout the conference attendees enjoyed lots of local produce, including Adelaide Hills wine (yes, they are a region of wine experts!).
The MEA Conference itself was held at the newly renovated Adelaide Convention Centre along the Riverbank Precinct.
After introductions and mingling on the first day, we were treated to a series of inspirational talks from a range of wonderful speakers.
I was particularly inspired by the first speaker, Swedish Australian global futurist Anders Sörman-Nilsson. He’s a TEDx speaker and has shared a stage with Hilary Clinton. At MEA, he discussed designing customer journeys “to win the digital mind and the analogue hearts of tomorrow’s conference attendees.” Nilsson revealed the professional benefits of moving forward, particularly for “futurephobes.” He talked about his mother’s business in Sweden and how the world has changed pace from physical to digital. He also had some interesting insight on emerging data and technology.
Following on with technology, Dr Fiona Kerr’s talk on artificial intelligence (AI) also captured my attention. There was a range of discussions on Artificial Intelligence and its ability to enhance and personalise the experience for attendees. From chatbots to virtual reality, it seems Artificial Intelligence will become a definite addition to future events!
I also enjoyed a keynote that referenced tragedy and the London Bombings, along with the importance of community connection. Linking back to Nilsson’s comments on a digital future, moments of tragedy are translated almost immediately via social media. We cannot forget that we are human, and people reach out to digital to be informed, heard, and feel a connection to what they’re experiencing.
At the end of the second day, I headed off to the first social evening on the MEA Conference calendar where the dress code was “wear your sporting team colours”.
During the event, we were given the opportunity to choose an AFL team to support. I chose a monochrome palate of black and white and an interesting Magpie logo (which turned out to be Collingwood!). The opportunity was amplified when I met some Collingwood supporters who briefed me on the team’s colourful history.
In true Marwa fashion, I decided to bring my own sporting heritage to my outfit by painting the Egyptian flag on my face (black, red and white). The result was a flurry of confused people asking if I supported St Kilda. “Who says you can’t mix two things together?” I explained. “AFL and Egyptian soccer!” Needless to say, from a little curiosity brought new friendships that night.
I enjoyed socialising with the conference delegates at the newly renovated Adelaide oval and loved the impressive firework display. Food was plentiful along with a DJ and after party on the banks of the river.
The conference closed in traditional style with the Gala Dinner and Awards Presentation. It was an opportunity to swap our iPads and corporate attire for a cocktail dress and connect with our peers. I loved meeting new people and making new connections, because after all – that’s what a great event is all about!
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