We’re delighted to announce that David Heron will lead the incentive content stream at our inaugural micebook EXPO re-Engineered, which will take place on 12-13 January 2022 at Mondrian London.
Having previously worked as Co-Head of the award-winning Black Tomato Agency for a decade, David has a reputation for challenging convention and is always seeking out the most exciting opportunities for groups to experience the world. He has spent the past decade delivering unique programmes for high-profile global clients, from exclusive private island buy-outs in the Mediterranean to exclusive VIP Everest adventures.
We caught up with David to find out what he’s working on right now and his plans for the micebook EXPO…
What are you doing now?
I left Black Tomato in July and am now working as an events consultant, supporting organisations, hotels and destinations to identify future opportunities within the incentives and retreats space and communicate them in the right way and to the right audience.
My focus for the next year is to improve my understanding of what products are out there in the industry, while also understanding how the needs of clients and buyers are shifting. I want to focus on finding products that meet those needs, be it sustainability, exclusivity or dynamic experiences, with my ultimate plan being to help connect those dots.
What do you think the key trends will be in 2022 and beyond?
There is a strong demand and desire to get out and explore the world again among the buyers I am speaking to. Many companies feel very fragmented and that their culture and identity has been impacted by the pandemic. The lack of networking and human contact has affected who they are, and many companies are desperate to bring their teams together again in live formats to address it.
This creates an amazing opportunity for our industry. I think that group sizes for incentives and retreats could increase significantly as companies identify the need to bring all their staff together rather than select groups such as just sales teams etc. They will be looking to reward and encourage full company attendance to show their appreciation and to build back that company spirit that may be waning.
Sustainability is clearly a topic that must be addressed. It’s going to be much more about regeneration and giving back – that is going to be a big theme for a lot of businesses and will have a huge impact on incentives and events.
What are you planning for expo and why people should attend?
There are three key topics I am keen for us to address. The first is what’s new for 2022, and that is going to be quite a broad topic covering everything from advancements in airline technology around sustainability, to new destination openings and new experiences that have been developed off the back of Covid. We’ll look at what’s evolved and what’s coming down the line that we can get excited about.
Secondly, I would like to do something around train travel, which addresses both the sustainability issue and the wider movement towards different types of travel experiences. The standard flights and hotel combination is being challenged because people are looking for something unique. Train travel was already evolving and becoming more popular pre-Covid, and I believe demand will continue to increase. There are some great products out there such as Belmond and Eurostar etc, and I would like to explore these further and really understand what is happening in that space.
The third piece is all about the power of human connection and how planners can bring that into their programmes. We all understood the importance and power of human connection throughout lockdown, and I want to speak to suppliers about how they can bring people from the destinations into experiences to really amplify stories, educate and enhance an incentive or a retreat. That means bringing in local craftsmen and inspired speakers from local areas. But it’s also about understanding from local people how the investment in an event can benefit their local communities.
We are going through an incredible period of change for our industry and clients are coming with pent up demand, but they are looking for something new. The micebook EXPO is an opportunity for planners to bring fresh ideas and fresh thinking to their solutions. We will address what the new normal for the incentive world will be when travel returns and the sector recovers.
To attend, exhibit or submit content ideas: https://micebook.com/expo-reengineered/