An impressive addition to the BLEND Abu Dhabi programme, meeting industry expert Julius Solaris believes the UAE’s event scene is set to soar
Solaris is making a first visit to the UAE to appear at BLEND Abu Dhabi, at Yas Conference Centre on 17 October, where the top industry influencer will reveal key trends for the coming year. His latest prediction is that the region, and the UAE in particular, is ripe for event industry growth.
During his appearance at BLEND Abu Dhabi, Solaris will deliver an unmissable keynote session, ‘Successful Events of the Future (And How to Plan Them)’, as well as a workshop that promises to be vital for any planner, ‘Event Tech: The Good and the Great’.
Predicting future trends, Solaris explains: “The shift that needs to happen next year is between what we think is cool and what attendees really want. What do they want to achieve by attending your event? How will you connect them to each other?
“We often forget that true engagement happens when attendees are connected to each other. Of course, speakers and performers are very important but are you using meeting design principles to foster participation? Are you using matchmaking tech to connect them better?”
Another trend Solaris is set to touch on is the shift towards meeting design and strategy.
He says: “There is a strong movement in the event industry shifting the focus from execution to strategy. Event professionals have traditionally been perceived as fancier party planners, these days they are clearly way more than that.
“They plan for security, engagement and challenging marketing objectives. The skills stack required to become an event professional is higher than ever.
“We are finally seeing barriers to entry in this profession. It is one that requires education and experience, stamina, charisma and incredible flexibility. More event professionals are realising their potential and becoming event strategists. The future of the industry depends on this shift.”
A key area of focus when it comes to change within the events industry is of course technology. Solaris believes it’s vital that planners take a strategic approach to delivering meaningful content, as they embrace new ways of staging events.
He says: “AI and Virtual reality will be strong as we make our way into next year. This is an unprecedented megatrend affecting our industry.
“Technology is the most important tool for creating successful experiences in your event planning toolkit. As important as venue selection, as important as performer selection, choosing the right tech that adds value to attendees is paramount.
“Event apps, engagement tools, VR and facial recognition are some of the hottest tools that can really boost the effectiveness of your event.
“The question though is how can you add value to your attendees, sponsors and stakeholders. Can you use an internal project management tool to be more effective? Can you implement a beacon powered feedback form to collect faster feedback? These are the questions you should ask yourself, as every event is different and has different needs.”
Ahead of his visit, Solaris says: “I am excited to see what is happening in Abu Dhabi at the moment. Coming from Las Vegas, I know the potential of having such a great hospitality hub somewhere in another key international location.
“I think the whole region will be a driver for growth in the industry. I’ve been lucky to judge several competitions in the Middle East and the projects are some of the most advanced and appealing I’ve ever seen.
“Despite the strain on budgets some local event professionals may feel, I believe there is no match for the potential of this area.”
An expert in identifying events that have all the ingredients needed to be both effective and engaging, Solaris is also impressed with the BLEND Abu Dhabi format.
He says: “I think BLEND Abu Dhabi is interesting and innovative. We are looking at Yas Marina Circuit as one of the venues to watch in 2018. It is a strong proposition in a high-growth area for the industry.
“I am a big fan of Shawna and Adrian, my fellow speakers, and I can’t wait to hear what they have to say. For my presentation, I will have fast slides, little text, lots of discussion, interesting facts and clear action points – all aimed at event strategists.”
Solaris joins fellow top event industry influencers Adrian Segar and Shawna Suckow on the packed programme at one-day conference BLEND Abu Dhabi.