Conference Season

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

21 June 2018

We’ve been in conference season for a few months now. I’m sure if you spend any time on social media, you’ve likely read all of this year’s hashtags.




You get the point. Every year the themes are chosen, the materials are created, and the hashtags litter social media. But aside from the folks who create the materials, does anyone ever remember the themes of each conference year after year? Is it important?

Conferences have been successful in many industries for many years because people come together. Humans are social creatures. We love to assemble in groups. We enjoy seeing those same people year after year. It’s about the people.

What is the reason that humans run the world? If you ask Yuval Noah Harari,

Humans control the world because we are the only animal that can cooperate flexibly in large numbers.

Conferences are a perfect example of this human behavior. We gather with familiar faces that extend far past our normal networks. We hope for an introduction to that prospect we’ve been trying to connect with. And after too many beers, a maxed-out expense account, a few good stories, and a commitment to return the following year, we have the feeling of fulfilment.

That feeling doesn’t come from the theme or the topic of the show. It doesn’t come from the booth or the stress ball with your logo on it. It comes from gathering in large numbers and working together. It comes from exercising what makes our species different.

Ever watch an ant hive? It probably looks pretty similar to a time lapse of last weekend at the Gaylord Palms Resort. Want to know the difference? The ant hive is showcasing the ants’ basic survival needs. The Gaylord is showcasing the survival of our brands, our alliances, and our businesses — the survival of the world we developed because we decided to get together, year after year.

Here’s a theme for next year and every year after that: Together Again. We’ll never forget that one.

Our survival depends on it.