Meetings No 28
The Metaverse: A Digital Reality
Atti Soenarso ponders the emergence of ‘metapresence.’
Cover Story
Carina Bauer
The IMEX Group will enter 2030 much more sustainable and regenerative.
Psychological Meetings
Tears in the Fabric: About Popular Culture and Morality
Hans Gordon on one’s liberties ending only where someone else’s liberties begin.
Hybrid+: A New Approach to Meeting Experiences
The project aims to build a strong position in hybrid experiences.
White Paper
The Future Role and Purpose of Convention Bureaux
Aims to shape a future vision for national CBs globally, including a visionary roadmap.
New Arena in Copenhagen for 7,000 Seated Guests
Providing new opportunities to host global events.
The Untact Mode
Korean Cases: Utilising Meeting Technology
The marriage between Korea’s ICT technology and meeting business appears in various forms.
Untact services
Untact: South Korea’s Plan for a Contact-Free Society
There will be an investment in technologies that enable untact services, such as robotics, drones and high-speed internet.
Green Ideas
Over the past 75 years, a new environmental canon has emerged.
Gothenburg Wins International Award for Sustainability Work
Global Destination Sustainability Movement winner for the fifth time in a row.
Three Trends Bound to Stay Beyond the Pandemic
Opinion: Three interesting trends that we need to capitalise on.
Glasgow’s Go Greener Toolkit Implements More Sustainable Practices
Aligning conference planning with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Structural Change
Berlin Questions: Africa as the Laboratory of the Future
Best-selling novelist Lesley Lokko on architecture, ‘race’ and culture.
Regaining the Confidence of Associa­tions Key Elements Destinations Cannot Afford to Miss
Opinion: Three key criteria for seducing organisations.
New Business Unit Strengthens Business Events in Bogota
Consolidates investment and events attraction strategy in a single entity.
Why I Write
The titular George Orwell essay makes Robin Sharma examine his own motivations.
Meeting Design
Humanity’s Problem Is a Meeting Problem
Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology.
Villa Copenhagen: A New Hub for Business Events
Honouring the ethos of charming old Europe expressed in Danish architectural heritage.
Regenerative Revolution
Hannuwa: A New Paradigm for Event Management
Supporting the business events industry on a transformative journey.
I Have a Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore
Roger Kellerman on facing a world where old rules no longer apply.
next-gen platform
mci group
opens a creative technology studio in Brazil.
23,000 participants
Eighteen International Conferences
Selected Seoul to be the Destination.
over 300 programmes
Helsingborg, southern Sweden
invites the world to a 35-day innovation fest with H22 City Expo.
hotel news
Scandic to open
climate-neutral hotel in Sundsvall, Sweden, in 2024.
airline news
China blocks some flights from the U.S. as Covid precautions rise
United canceled flights from San Francisco to Shanghai on six days in late January.
could be 8,000 delegates
The World’s Largest Congress on Allergy
Heads to Prague, Czech Republic.
hotel news
Germany’s first Radisson Collection hotel
opens in the heart of Berlin.
business & meetings
Beijing North Star Convention and Exhibition
and GainingEdge Enter into Strategic Partnership.
flight industry
New “boarding tax” in Belgium
to make tickets up to 10 euros more expensive.
new job
Destinations International
Announces Director of European Engagement.
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I Have a Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

These days our present is often referred to as the new normal. Since the pandemic we’ve had hybrid meetings arrive alongside face-to-face meetings like a new cousin from the country – in a best-case scenario making online meetings a bit more fun, if the production is professional enough. And while the technology itself has been around for years, the pandemic suddenly and effectively kicked us a bit further into the future. Ready or not.

Now, we face a world where old rules no longer apply, and where we obviously need to look at things in new ways. One such way, of trying to help perhaps increasingly lost or disoriented meeting participants, is to learn what lateral thinking is. Lateral thinking means to use an untraditional approach to an issue that may provide unexpected or straightforward solutions to complex problems. The concept was introduced by Edward de Bono in his book The Use of Lateral Thinking as early as 1967.

In contrast with traditional problem solving, where you directly address the problem at hand, lateral thinking requires you to instead spend time thinking about different ways of viewing the problem. Only after that do you get into the actual work of finding solutions. Non-linear problem solving is often referred to as obliquity, the concept of reaching a goal without aiming directly for it.

There’s a latin saying – Speramus meliora, Resurget cineribus – which translates to: ‘We hope for better things, It will rise from the ashes.’ By walking through smouldering ruins we may discover puzzle pieces allowing us to create something new.

But have we really gone through such a significant change that we can claim to be rising from the ashes? That is certainly debatable. Financially, there is little doubt that we have, as the business events industry has indeed been hit hard. But can the congress part of the industry really stay significantly reduced over several years’ time? Do we simply not have to have personal meetings between researchers and thinkers to keep up the pace of development and innovation?

All forms of scientific and cultural research at universities deals with in-depth studies and the deepening of knowledge. Specialists keep digging deeper and deeper. But the outside world’s knowledge and understanding is not increasing at the same rate as the specialists’. We are not only in need of people who are digging deeper. We are also very much in need of people who are connecting all the deep excavators by building horisontal tunnels. And that is just what’s happening when people meet at congresses and events. We need to meet each other in person, form personal connections, and to sustain a lasting exchange of knowledge and ideas.

The title of this column is taken from a famous line in the film The Wizard of Oz, which according to researchers at the University of Turin, Italy is the world’s most referenced film. In a black and white rural Kansas, a tornado sweeps farm girl Dorothy (played by Judy Garland) and her dog Toto away from the life they know, bringing them to the magical land of Oz. At the moment they step onto unfamiliar ground, the 1939 film (the first mainstream release in colour) changes from black and white to bursting Technicolor, underlining the chasmic shift in surroundings. A bewildered Dorothy cautiously takes this strange landscape in, then says to her campanion: “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Every time the playing field radically changes, in everything from music and culture to politics and business, people keep referring to this pivotal scene of movie magic. And I think it’s safe to say that pretty much everyone in the global business events industry would have to agree that we are defnitely not in Kansas anymore.