Future of conferences post-Covid

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Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the rise in experiential learning was a significant trend in leading business schools.

Prominent educators such as Dr Johan Roos, Chief Strategy Officer at Hult International Business School, spoke passionately about the need for transformation in today’s business education: “We need to merge business experience and academia far more.”

“Too much emphasis is now placed on theory vs practice, ensuring that graduates are unprepared to deal with the complex problems of the world that companies inhabit.

“They lack meaningful, relevant business education that teaches them cross-disciplinary thinking, broad familiarity with humanistic and scientific trends, and, most importantly, Aristotle’s “phronesis” – the practical wisdom that teaches them to make decisions based on deep notions of what is good for the global community.”

This year, the CIIM Live Case Project, as part of our ‘Learning by Doing’ teaching philosophy, was organised in cooperation with travel and conference management company Top Kinisis for the second year in a row.

The topic was “Future of Conference Services”, where competing teams of students had the following objectives:

  1. Identify global and local post-Covid trends and constraints within the sector of conference services.
  2. Evaluate the competitive position of Top Kinisis in Cyprus within the sector of conference services in the new post-Covid environment.
  3. Undertake market research to establish post-Covid changes in consumer behaviour related to the conference services sector.
  4. Provide strategy recommendations for Top Kinisis to grow its conference services business in the next three years.

The Live Case Project 2022 took place in a fully virtual mode, and the teams chose to focus on the future of hybrid and virtual events, with the results presented to Top Kinisis executives.

The global virtual events market was valued at $114.12 bln in 2021 and is expected to grow at a compound growth of 23.7% from 2020 to 2028, more than double the expected growth rate of the events industry overall.

The pandemic has caused a dramatic acceleration of technology adoption and digitalisation.

Worldwide surveys of event professionals in 2021 showed:

  • 97% believed we would see more hybrid events in the future
  • 93% planned to invest in virtual and hybrid events
  • 92% believed that event software makes it easier to achieve business outcomes
  • 90% said technology can have a major positive impact on the success of their events
  • 68% were looking for hybrid event technology or software solution that supports both in-person and virtual events
  • 65% said tools to engage virtual attendees would play a key role in their future event strategies

“We were highly impressed by all team presentations.

“They were of high professional level and were delivered with passion,” said Elena Tanou, VP of Top Kinisis.

“Each team did substantial market research, and all teams managed to raise very interesting issues for us.”

The three presenting teams were:

Winners – Team 2: Ellina Eleni (MSc FS), Gettos Vaggelis (MSc HRM&OB), Kasapi Mariella (MBA), Paphiti Christiana (MBA), Yerolemou Elena (MBA).

Team 1: Azar John (MSc BIDA), Christophidou Chrystalla (MSc HRM&OB), Leong Kah Chau (MSc BM).

Team 3: Hassan Ibrahim (MSc FS), Mbah Ifeoma (MBA), Panayiotou Gregoris (MSc BM), Tassy Elena (MSc HRM&OB).

“Given the uncertain, rapidly changing, and challenging environment, learning by doing is more valuable than ever.

“Industry and academia – by joining forces – could facilitate mutual learning via real-life projects, creating value for all stakeholders involved,” said Christiana Paphiti, CIIM MBA student.

“Working with our tutor was like having a map and a compass, equipped with clear directions to get back on track, despite deviations.”

Ibrahim Hassan, CIIM MSc Financial Services student, said he was encouraged to apply the academic knowledge and learned how a live case presentation to a CEO is very different from a case presented as students within a course.

“I was excited to be given an opportunity to interview Dr George Theocharides, Chairman of CySEC, as part of my field research in this project,” he said.

John Azar, CIIM MSc BIDA student, said they were offered weekly mentoring sessions, developing important skills such as presentation, research, collaboration, and others.

“These are vital skills that can be used elsewhere, including further education and the workplace.”

Dr Olga Kandinskaia is Associate Professor of Finance and Director of MBM – MSc in Business Management at CIIM – Cyprus International Institute of Management [email protected]