Insights from the MESA Planner Forum: Enhancing Event Engagement in the New Normal

By Maggie Bruk |

October 6, 2023

On Thursday, October 5th, 2023, the Meetings & Events Support Association (MESA) Planner Forum, brought together industry leaders and experts to discuss the evolving landscape of event planning. In the wake of the pandemic, event formats have shifted between online, in-person, and hybrid, presenting ongoing engagement challenges. This forum served as a beacon of knowledge, offering valuable insights and expert advice on navigating these changes.

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Key Speakers and Insights

Merijn van Buuren initiated a discussion on how networking experiences can be enhanced. The group delved into successful engagement techniques such as mobile apps, roundtables, and the potential of gamification, and explored simple yet effective ideas like QR code scavenger hunts to encourage interaction.

John Martinez, our CEO and Founder at Shocklogic, shared a presentation of a case study with the European Society for Organ Transplantation. It focused on innovative methods to encourage collaboration and elevate delegate engagement, illustrating that even audiences as serious as transplantation surgeons can enjoy interactive activities.

Liz Lathan emphasised that one size does not fit all in the world of event planning. Understanding your audience and tailoring engagement strategies accordingly is crucial. By considering the preferences of the specific group you are addressing, you can create a unique experience that resonates with them.

Linda Pereira drew from her extensive experience working with 149 countries, and stressed the universality of effective engagement strategies. She highlighted the importance of engaging attendees well in advance of the event, making them feel that the experience is exclusive and not replicable elsewhere. Linda also pointed out the significance of carefully selecting MCs, speakers, and technology to maximise engagement.

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Innovative Approaches to Engagement

The forum also featured breakout sessions where attendees discussed innovative approaches to engagement. Platforms like Braindate and roundtable events were recommended for facilitating meaningful connections. Utilising tools like sticky notes to address challenges and creating fireside chats on the show floor were suggested to foster organic networking opportunities.

Looking Ahead

As the event drew to a close, our wonderful moderator Clare Forestier announced that the next planner forum will convene in the new year, promising to build on the valuable discussions of this gathering. Additionally, MESA will be present at IBTM in Barcelona this November. As a MESA member, Shocklogic will be exhibiting with them. 

We encourage everyone to follow MESA on LinkedIn for updates on future events and invaluable insights.