MIX looks back on the stories that grabbed headlines in 2018

IN FEBRUARY, the Year of the Dog was straining at the leash with hopes high for positive change across the business events industry to redress what, for many, had been an annus horribilis the previous year, with a spate of corporate bloodletting, agency turmoil and shock departures.

It’s fair to say the mixed fortunes rollercoaster has continued its rough ride. We have seen success stories and impressive trade and attendance figures from the likes of ITB Asia and Get Global, while influential industry disruptors C2 had to cancel their innovative Melbourne show scheduled for October due to poor ticket sales and partners withdrawing from the event.

It has been another year of highs and lows, and MIX has reported on or from most parts of the Asian region, telling the stories that focus on the trends, themes and dev-elopments across meetings, conferences and incentives.

In our December 2017/January 2018 issue we explored how travel organisers and hoteliers are giving back to communities through outreach and CSR programmes, but are learning they have to tread carefully to avoid the hidden pitfalls of generosity.

In the same issue, Gaining Edge Asia manager Jane Vong Holmes explained how China’s Belt and Road initiative is likely to impact the future of meetings and incentives.

With the Year of the Dog under way, the Spotlight feature in our February/March issue explored what went wrong in 2017, contrasting with hopes for the future. AIPC president Aloysius Arlando said challenges ahead included the need to be more flexible, embrace digitisation, compete for talent, emphasise the economic role of convention centres, stay relevant, and develop partnerships.

Striking an optimistic tone, Brisbane was upbeat about hosting Dreamtime for the first time, and Seoul was gearing up for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. 

In April/May, MIX featured major developments Down Under, and also focused the Spotlight on one of the industry’s most contentious issues, accreditation.

Get Global was set for an “inspired return” in Sydney in July after the previous year’s successful debut, plans were underway for Talk2 Media’s first AIME in Melbourne in February 2019, and ICC Sydney invested US$1 million in cutting-edge audiovisual technology.

We also covered Adelaide’s cornering of cutting-edge medical conferences in Adelaide and Gold Coast’s preparations for hosting the Commonwealth Games.

With no signs of the troubles ahead, C2, founded by Montreal’s Cirque de Soleil, was planning what would have been one of the most innovative conference events in Asia Pacific with C2 Melbourne.

Martin Enault, COO of C2 and chief executive of C2 Asia Pacific, who would later resign his position, explained to MIX how the company intended to blend live performance with business events, with formats ranging from chairs suspended from ceilings and fog-filled domes, to guided discussions in a “pitch-black inflatable room”.

The Spotlight analysis focused on data’s dark side, with industry insiders balancing the pros and cons of collecting and storing delegate information.

There was a different take on the issue from PCMA CEO Sherriff Karamat in a Trend article, where he explained “why event planners need big data”.

Sponsorship was top of the agenda in August/September, with major industry players, including Talk2 Media’s Matt Pearce and Sands China’s Gene Capuano, spelling out how successful relationships between sponsors and organisers had evolved into partnerships. Other features included an examination of the rise of the K-wave Hallyu phenomenon in Korea, and a look at the “backdrop revolution”, with award-winning 3D modular panels transforming the visual aspect of events.

“Let’s rock! School’s out for CEOs” was the cover story in October/November, with high-octane Rock and Roll Teambuilding opportunities on offer from INXS singer turned event organiser Ciaran Gribbin. We also reported on how venues are joining the fight against the peril of plastic waste, and a study on the dos and don’ts of networking.

Explore features in 2018 ranged from “finding a haven in Vietnam”, “taking to the hills in Malaysia”, and “rooftop bars in Thailand” to “the Greater Bay area of the Pearl Delta”, and destinations included Shenzhen, Gold Coast, Penang and South Wales.

As we close out the year, and MIX prepares for its 12th anniversary in 2019, it is no coincidence that we return to the issue we started it out on, with the Spotlight analysis in this issue focusing on arguments for and against the need for disruption and change in the industry. As Edith Onderick-Harvey, managing partner of Nextbridge Consulting, says in a recent Forbes Coaches Council blog item: “Trite, but true, change is the only constant”.

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