06 Mar

The Generation Game

Leadership is not about the next election,

it’s about the next generation.

~ Simon Sinek

In the past month or so I have attended two debates on the future of the Events Industry. They were like chalk and cheese in their content to say the least.

In January, I moderated an EWL Breakfast on the subject. Our speakers were Ann-Marie Rossiter from Headbox and Mark Maher, Director of Boulevard Events. Both are high-flying, engaged Millennials who are passionate about our industry.

Headbox is online technology for venue finding. They have a wide range of what we have come to term – repurposed venues as well as many of the more traditional ones. The conversation focused on the hunger for new kinds of venues that we are seeing from our clients. An example of a shoe store that hired out its space as an upmarket venue becomes the focus of a lot of the conversation.

Boulevard Events is a more traditional member of the MICE community. A well-established catering company that has learned that adapting to new challenges is the way to succeed in the future.

The conversation flowed for an hour and half.  The panel, while there and making intelligent and well thought out comments of their own were only a part of the conversation, the members of the “audience” shared their views, experiences and even debated some of the ideas raised.

To sum up the session in three words –


  • Relationships
  • Transparency
  • Flexibility

Yesterday, I attended an EventHuddle at International CONFEX on the same subject. The conversation couldn’t have been more different. The panel were indeed very distinguished members of the MICE community: Chris Foy from Visit Britain, Dr. Caroline Jackson from the Association of Events Management Education, Julian Agostini of Mash Media and Michael Hirst OBE of Business Visits and Events Partnership. All very knowledgeable about our industry and all Baby Boomers or Gen X.

Before I go on – I will just clarify that I am indeed on the cusp between Gen X and the Baby Boom. Among other things, I run a new organization called ForwardsFromFifty.com. All that being said, I work out of TechHub which is very millennial and even work with Gen Z in my role as an Educator.

Back to EventHuddle, I found myself alarmed by the conversation.  While I agree that BREXIT is indeed the great unknown factor in business today, I was shocked that that, and the fact that our industry is on a roll and we should enjoy it while it lasts until the next recession, were the main themes.

Somewhere along the way the whole concept of an internal market, changing the way we work and working in a cross-generational manner, all went out the window. When asked about younger people the conversation seemed to focus only on the educational sector. While the university students of today will indeed be the future of the industry in time, there is a whole generation who will take the mantle of leadership before those in university or doing apprenticeships (both of which I applaud loudly) will be remotely ready to do so.

To say that I was shocked by the idea that the way Millennials were kept happy was to give them something to Tweet about left a truly unpleasant taste in my mouth.  Something I tweeted about in a veiled manner.

The three terms from the first Future of the Industry conversation are exactly the words that we focus on in determining the way to move forwards with Dezika, a high-tech commission collection service for the MICE industry.  Created by a bunch of Gen X and Baby Boomers who firmly believe that:


  • Relationships
  • Transparency
  •  Flexibility

Are the only ways to succeed in the years to come.

I would like to lay down the gauntlet in the MICE industry – let’s have a cross generational panel – including Generations – Z, Millennial, X and Baby Boom.   Having been called the oldest Millennial by a friend, I will volunteer to take on the challenge of moderating it.

Any takers????

Many thanks to Helen Moon @EWLClubLondon for taking up the gauntlet – what this space. Any other takers???




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