High touch or high tech?

Blog > Trends

High touch or high tech?

By Robbert Weddepohl | Sep 14, 2021

Those special moments. We all know them so, so well. That unforgettable instant of meeting another person. One of those instants is when we meet a person in real life for the first time. When we get introduced to a possible client, a partner or a new colleague, for example. On other occasions, it may have been a while since you last saw your customer “in the flesh.” And when was it that you last gathered with the fans of your brand in person?

No matter the reason or the relationship we have with the other, the sensations we have when meeting and connecting with another human—or a whole bunch of humans—are unparalleled.

How I see it, “live” is the communication of the future. It is the state where endless opportunities lay, waiting for you to come and grab them. And “live” is also where the power resides, the power to push businesses towards growth. What we create with live communication, and all our beautiful events, means so much more than just an incredible, wonderful experience. And is much more valuable than only the precious time one spends at an event. The true meaning of “live” is part of your genetic material: of you as a person and of you as your business or brand.

So after contemplating all of this, the question I ask myself is, are we striving for high tech or should high touch be our focus? Personally, I would definitively opt for both.

“No matter the reason or the relationship we have with the other, the sensations we have when meeting and connecting with another human—or a whole bunch of humans—are unparalleled.”

Because, when I think of the main thing I am consciously taking with me from the experience of last year, it is the unshakeable fact that a screen can, has and will never replace a physical event. No screen in the world can do what “live” can. It does, though, extend the lifespan of physical events and offers unlimited opportunities to reach out to the entire world!

Traditionally, MPI’s European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC) used to be a 100% “live” event: an award-winning conference praised and prized with the BEA World award and a Gouden Giraffe (2019 edition, The Hague by MPI The Netherlands). In 2021, EMEC was a very special edition as a digital event on the screen. A one-off event that was exceptional in every way with a huge positive flow in which various learning journeys were offered to endulge yourself with knowledge and inspiration. It was special, but honestly we can’t wait to see the day of the next edition, when face-to-face encounters and shaking hands are combined with the digital and when we can freely experiment with mixing the best of the digital and the “live” world!

MPI represents the power of “live.” the power of events. I like to call it “the playing man” or “the playing human,” to be more precise. It shapes the foundation of culture and the way play and culture influence society. Playing humans have always existed, but looking back, they didn’t always get much space in society to express their playful selves, and it has been an up and down kind of movement. The same counts for this current moment.

I definitely also see the certain challenges we are facing in this regard. With laser-focus on views, followers and likes, it seems easy to be reaching our people. At the same time, the struggle is real amongst brands and businesses to truly pinpoint, grasp and keep the attention of their public. For long now, the product is not all that is important. The connection is made in the deep and profound layers that are offered by an experience. Honestly, it is all about the experience; about the fullness and the depth of it. And about the felt sensations, registered by the skin and the heart. True engagement can be reached by experiences that have that aliveness in them. Regardless of this being in person or online.

MPI's European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC) 2022. Push the limits of what modern meetings and events can be.

As a representative of MPI, and as an event-professional myself, we want to end passivity and create space for a reaction: a smile or a deep belly laugh, shivers and goosebumps, a sensation of identification and recognition. It’s rewarding and bonding when the receiver of your message is touched in their inner being, when what you say is triggering his or her enthusiasm to do something. Something needs to happen when your message arrives at your recipient. That is, by far, the most powerful method to reach people. To move them. To unleash something in someone.

As I mentioned before: It is all about the experience. 

And yes, the only right moment is this moment. Right now. As we, as an industry, are setting sail towards our destination “full recovery,” there is no better time to reconnect as professionals and to together build our networks for our shared future.

For the first time, MPI's European Meetings and Events Conference (EMEC) 2022 will be a hybrid event. That means a live in person AND a live digital experience. High touch and high tech! EMEC Brighton (28 February - 1 March, 2022) will push the limits of what modern meetings and events can be, showcasing innovative learning formats, future-focused education and engaging networking opportunities. Do not wait and register now.

I have all the trust in the world that we are not only about to recover for the full 100%. I actually believe we will be fitter and smarter, more creative and more connected. And especially, we will be way more in high touch than ever before.

Remember, everything starts with a meeting. Because when we meet, we change the world!

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash



Robbert Weddepohl
Robbert Weddepohl

Robbert Weddepohl is Group Venue Director, Stage Entertainment B.V. and past president of MPI Netherlands 2017-2019. As a current member of the MPI International Board of Directors, he serves as board liaison for MPI's European Advisory Council.