I have been reading lately about all things experiential: experiential learning, experiential tourism, experiential marketing; all of these are very interesting in the context of events and meetings. One article discussing the experiential learning as the opposite to a formal training made me draw a parallel and think about how it can be (or perhaps is?) applied in the events sector.
The article is about the programme for the employees at GSK who are encouraged to take the voluntary assignment for a 6 month period to support third party NGO’s project. The company representative says this way they achieve several goals – get their employees learn a number of new things be that about their professional skills or new culture, get them refreshed and get them see things from a different angle. And it could be much much better than any formal training or coaching which nevertheless are also provided by the company.
Well, surely, there are old school, or formal, trainings that can provide huge value. And surely it is one – and effective (if done right) – way of professional development. However, I believe this new way we have been following for a while, of gaining meaningful experience through practice, is based on something more powerful – the human psychology, on how we perceive and remember things – that is, if we practice something ourselves, we learn quick and effective and for far long.
But description of the programme at GSK made me also thought it was one of those great examples that could be easily replicated in other industries, to benefit all involved. Let’s consider the events industry.
Certainly, many institutions have internships for their events and hospitality (especially hospitality) students – that might be volunteering for the institution’s or local community’s event, or placement with the institution’s partner company (a hotel or catering service company etc). These are all very good and do provide those who are about to start out in the field, with the necessary experience.
But what about the re-energising those experienced employees – do we have similar programmes for them? I am not aware of such and to be honest, have never heard about such opportunity. I do not claim it does not exist but I am pretty sure it is something that you can seldom find.
Meanwhile, the fact you are an experienced eventprof does not mean you don’t need any re-focusing, any re-freshing or any quality training aka experiential learning.
In fact, I think it might be one of those powerful tools that we are yet to discover. Imagine that there is a programme designed to provide any eventprof at any level in an organisation with the new experience – both related to their job and those of indirect relation (for example, doing an event or its part in another country). The benefits for such professional, their company and the host company are obvious – and this is all very much and pure experiential learning which potentially at the end leads to more revenue of a particular enterprise and to more overall drive in the events sector.
We all are very well aware of the power of experience and experiential learning in particular, nowadays. It is a buzz word and yes it is an effective solution with solid grounds rising and being applied at exponential rate in the meeting and events. I think it is also the right time to use it to the benefit of eventprofs themselves – so that they are better equipped and prepared to create great experiences for their clients.