Andy Grove, interim president of the National Outdoor Events Association (NOEA), has a crack at predicting the future of events

I read at the end of last year that instability is the new normal when it comes to the global economy. With disaster after disaster, scandal after scandal, and general unrest from political, ecological and economical perspectives; the world seems to be just getting on with it regardless, a kind of global ‘Keep Calm & Carry On’ t-shirt.

It’s this attitude that I continue to see across the outdoor events industry, throughout my career, no matter what is happening. It’s our industry that just seems to want to get on with it, and get the job done; so it’s nice to see our attitude is exporting itself around the world as well as our skill set.

So, with this in mind, on behalf of NOEA I wanted to have a crack at predicting the future. Again, an endeavour that has been widely ridiculed by most economists and seems ever more impossible as we live in such unstable times, but if the trade association isn’t willing to stick its neck out, then who will!?

As an association, we also spent a lot of time last year with some really intelligent and inspirational people as part of our Futures Forum – and we thank once again GL events, ACT National and Eventbrite for their support here. Through the forum, we managed to galvanise a great deal of opinion on what the long-term future of the industry looks like, and I’m keen we continue to share these findings to stimulate debate and discussion.

I also want to because, and maybe this is just the nature of the people within our industry, as a whole, projections look good.

Let’s start with the general consumer approach to outdoor events, pretty much all of our research points towards a growing appetite for outdoor events. People still want to meet, communities exist both digitally and in person, and they want to congregate, locally, nationally and internationally. The millennial and centennial audiences seem more likely to do this than previous generations not less likely; so, the consumers are there, it’s a matter of getting them in.

Secondly, and something our Futures group continues to discuss, is the role of digital. I’ll refer anyone looking for more detailed information on this trend to the new NOEA website resources. However, to sum up, the technology that works for the organiser has a better chance of survival, the technology that brings people into the experience and not take them out of it, can really flourish! As an organistion this is a trend we’ll continue to keep a track on.

Lastly is the subject of globalisation and in general political interference in our industry, and yes, I can’t talk about 2018 without at least mentioning Brexit. Again, there are a number of white papers on the NOEA website, but for now I’ll keep it brief. This industry often has a lot thrown at it, we face challenges exceptionally well, we are robust and realistic. But many see opportunities as well, and with change comes both, it will be interesting to see how we can profit in 2018 rather than be at the brunt of change.

As an association, we’re committed to continuing our look towards the future, alongside our membership, and share our findings with the wider industry. Our convention will take place in Bath again this year and will tackle many of the issues above, but also the day to day challenges our industry faces as well. For the last few years we’ve delivered great programmes and I hope to see many NOEA members and non-NOEA members back again. So, mark 21 November in pen in your diary.

Until then, keep talking to us about how you see 2018 working for the industry, NOEA continues to be a great place to communicate and share, we’re looking forward to hearing from you.