No matter how you slice it, the meeting and events industry is beyond enormous: it’s gigantic. Around the world, the industry was worth $1.1 trillion in 2018, and experts say it will reach $2.33 trillion by 2026.
That’s a whole lot of people attending a whole lot of meetings and events. All of which begs the question: why? Why are all those millions of people gathering? And how can we use that insight to create events that score off -the-charts for everyone involved?
A new global study that measures our personal values, the deeply-rooted ideals that drive us day-in-and-day-out, has found the answer.
The man behind the study is keynote speaker David Allison, a human behavior expert and the pioneer of Values Thinking. Values Thinking is the practice of using shared values to solve problems and make decisions. To help spread the Values Thinking philosophy around the world, Allison created the first global database of what everyone on earth cares about, what we all value, want, need and expect.
“One of the foundations of psychology and sociology is that what we value determines what we do. So once we know the values of meeting/event participants, we know how to give them more of what they want. They would engage more quickly and feel more satisfied with the experience,” Allison said. “So that’s what we did. We have the answers now.”
According to the study, titled The Participants, people who attend meetings/events fall into one of three primary groups:
• The Catapult Seekers, who represent 44% of the market, want opportunities for advancement. They crave stage time, networking-up, and exposure to unique ideas and activities.
• The Hyper Focused are methodical planners who attend because there is one thing they must do or one person they need to meet in order to achieve a goal they are working towards.
• The Worker Bees see meetings/events as a requirement of their job, and want to stay up-to-date on the latest industry knowledge and trends.
“Across all three segments, the most important values are various kinds of togetherness: things like family, belonging and community. In every industry we study these are the things we all care about the most,” Allison noted.
“What’s interesting here is the big mix. It’s not one thing or another, it’s three very distinct values that are the most important influences across all of the participants equally,” he said.
Other values that are extremely important to participants include personal responsibility and employment security.
The analysis goes deeper into the different values that trigger behavior for each segment within the overall study. For example, Catapult Seekers can be influenced by triggering values like upward mobility and self-expression, while the Hyper Focused will respond to appeals based on self-control and personal growth. Those Worker Bees? They will be motivated by anything that stresses health, well-being, and tolerance.
“I realize Values Thinking is an entirely new way of looking at target audiences, one that most people are not familiar with…at least not yet!” Allison laughs. “I’m asking people to change the way they look at the world, and that’s a big ask…it’s not going to happen overnight.”
It seems likely to be worth the effort to try this approach, however, as data from 500,000 surveys shows that making decisions using the shared values of your target audience can be as much as 8X more effective than the standard demographic segments used to understand meeting/event participants.
Allison will present the full results of this study in a keynote speech, and teach participants how to use Values Thinking in a master class, at the MPI World Education Congress in Grapevine Texas, from June 6-9th this year.
“The Meeting and Events Industry is a fascinating and vital part of the economy. I’m always excited to share Values Thinking and our research findings with every group I speak to, but this one…this one is special,” Allison says.
Give Your Event Participants Exactly What They Are Looking For.
 Allied Market Research, Events Industry Market Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2019–2026
 The Valuegraphics Database is a random stratified statistically representative sample of the population of the world, created from a half-million surveys collected in 180 countries using 152 languages, and measuring 420 values, wants, needs and expectations with a +/- 3.5% margin of error and a 95% level of confidence.