Whether you’re a fan of BuzzFeed or not, the success of the hugely popular website boils down to how it defines and exploits a rapidly growing demographic: “The Bored at Work Network.” These are people who spend half their work time working, and the other half scanning social media and the web. Due to the infinite distractions inherent in today’s digital era, and the staggering loss in productivity as a result, companies are seeking ways to keep their most creative, media-savvy employees focused and engaged.
U.S. planners are addressing this at the most innovative conferences in the country, like SXSW in Austin, Oracle’s OpenWorld in San Francisco, PopTech in New England and TEDx/BarCamp “unconferences” everywhere. They focus on integrated, spontaneous and crowdsourced “transmedia” content, combining tech, media, business and the arts—shared live and virtually—over a connected array of communication vehicles ranging from tweetups to live streaming concerts.
In Canada, Tourisme Montreal and Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil collaborated to produce something similar at the first C2MTL conference in 2012. It’s a business showcase for commerce and creativity, combining corporate intelligence and artistic innovation in “a creative sandbox.”
Think of it as Burning Man for the businessman.
“Our goal was to reinvent the business conference by stimulating attendees not just with speakers, but exhibitions, multimedia, conceptual venues, projections, workshops and parties,” says Jean-François Bouchard, president of Montreal’s Sid Lee creative agency, which spearheaded the development of C2MTL. “We also saw this as an opportunity to bring together the C-suite from all business sectors and industries, in what could become something of a global innovation summit in Montreal.”
Emmanuelle Legault, VP of marketing for Tourisme Montreal, believes that the lessons learned at C2MTL and the rise of research around Millennial work habits sparked the DMO into action on a variety of fronts.
Today, Tourisme Montreal has one of the most multi-pronged digital platforms of any destination marketing organization. The meeting planner portal is the first of its kind, launched in early 2013.
“Initially, we were surprised by how many Millennials are trying to break into the meetings market,” Legault says. “They utilize social media, read blogs and don’t want to read advertorials.”
“So that’s why we decided last year that we should start a new blog and try to bring added value to our consumers—you know, bring them to our content. That gives us a chance to engage with them, because meeting planners are always so busy and often difficult to reach sometimes as a DMO.”
The investment is starting to pay off.
“What we’re seeing is a lot more time spent on the blog and a lot more comments than we used to get, so we’re starting to engage with them,” explains Legault. “The fact that we took an approach that’s more content oriented and provides more added value to them, allows us to always be on the top of their minds. And then when they do have a question, they are contacting us to get more information.”