Senthil Gopinath, CEO of ICCA joins us for this episode of the Event Manager Podcast, which focuses the future of the event industry.
Senthil has over 20 years experience within the meetings, association and leisure industry. He has held a variety of positions within the meetings space, such as CEO of the Convention Bureau of Sri Lanka and Vice President of Kuoni. In 2019 he assumed the role of CEO of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), having spent the previous three years as the company’s East Regional Director.
It is no surprise that as a passionate strategist, and winner of the Global Business Events Strategist of the Year Award given by PCMA, Gopinath believes that passion is an important element of building a successful business strategy, without which you cannot achieve the business’ goals and objectives. He also notes that finding your own passion and injecting that into the business, will hopefully mean that achieving these goals become easier, but you also want to stay and develop with the business, in turn ensuring a successful strategy is achieved for the organization.
Looking outside of the event industry to develop greater knowledge and understanding is valuable. Gopinath feels that those within the event industry have often forgotten that other sectors are also important to our own. He even notes that the event industry has failed in recent decades to show its importance and relevance to other sectors, noting that we need to build and develop relationships outside the event industry, sharing experiences, challenges, knowledge and more, which provide opportunities for collaboration. However, it is important to note that this isn’t a quick process, instead it is one that takes time and investment to develop.
As event planners, one of the main questions we ask ourselves is ‘How can I ensure that my events stand out?’ Gopinath’s view is that working to understand the participant experience is the key to ensuring that your event does rise above others and attract the attention of potential attendees, adding that exceeding in the creation of the experience will allow you to exceed at achieving the purpose of your event. Gopinath also notes that there are a variety of elements to the ‘experience’ and outlines what some of these could be. Ultimately, Gopinath believes that focusing on developing the participant experience is what will allow event organizers to continue to grow their events.
Gopinath notes that one of the main challenges for the industry is how younger generations view it. Gopinath believes that one of the main reasons that it is difficult to attract younger generations into the industry is because they view it in a traditional sense, whereas they are seeing other industries have changed and innovated – as such they don’t feel that there are learning opportunities for them within the event industry space. Senthil notes that if a balance is struck between increasing the new knowledge sources and sharing from outside the industry, alongside the traditional approach, many of the challenges we face begin to be solved.
Senthil closes out by highlighting that the importance of the event industry and what we provide was greatly impacted by the pandemic. Whilst we are coming back and recovering from this period, he stresses that we should be focusing on defining who we are through collaborating and working from a grassroots level, attracting knowledge sources, providing us with the opportunity to become a sustainable industry and ultimately allowing policy makers to better understand the work we do and value we provide.
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