Is the Events Industry Lacking Creative Thinkers or Just Time?

New research by London & Partners says meetings planners are not as creative as they think they are. But to meet attendee expectations, thinking creatively is required, even if time to do so is lacking.

You know the saying, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” Keep that in mind before you continue reading this post.

The experience itself is now what drives the event, but it’s only by combining pioneering ideas with concrete solutions that we can truly surprise and delight.

Because, event planners, surprise, you’re not as creative as you’d like to think!

That was the conclusion of new research released by London & Partners, the official convention bureau of London, and

More than 400 planners were asked to have their brains analyzed to uncover whether they are “rational left-brained” thinkers or “emotional right-brained” (i.e., creative) thinkers. The majority believed they took a creative approach to their work, but just 39 percent were considered creative thinkers.

The research also revealed that while 53 percent of event professionals feel under pressure to deliver innovative events to stay at the top of the industry, less than a third of respondents said risk-taking is encouraged by their organizations.

And when questioned about how creativity was fostered within their organizations or teams, 34 percent said they were allowed free time to think, and 32 percent agreed that creative excellence was rewarded by their organizations.

“Creativity and innovation are growing ever more important as clients demand event activations that set them apart from their competitors and deliver enduring memories for consumers,” said Tracy Halliwell, London & Partners’ director of business tourism and major events. “The experience itself is now what drives the event, but it’s only by combining pioneering ideas with concrete solutions that we can truly surprise and delight.”

It’s true: Your attendees are looking for memorable experiences at your meetings and events, something they can’t find elsewhere. And delivering on those expectations requires some creative thinking, but how do you find the time for it?

Finding Time for Creativity

After reading the results and thinking back to other articles I’ve written and association meeting planners I’ve spoken with, I don’t think it’s a matter of planners lacking creativity. The better explanation is that they lack the time to be creative and the budget to bring creative ideas to life.

Meeting planners are far from alone in struggling to set aside time for creative thinking. As a writer, I deal with it too. We all have days when we just crank out what’s necessary—but not what’s necessarily our most creative stuff. There’s been many a time I’ve said to myself, “Eh, this isn’t the best thing you’ve ever written, but it will do.”

For me, I tend to find my most creative time is when I’m outside of the office, often when I’m on a run. And when I’m writing a longer article, I sometimes prefer to do it away from my desk. I also think some of my most creative blog posts are those that are inspired by fun things I do outside of work, such as going to the Minnesota State Fair or an Arcade Fire concert. (By the way, both happened to be memorable and highly creative events.)

If you’re curious to see if your thinking falls more to the left right side of things, you can take the 30-second brain test here. (For those curious, I’m 72 percent right-brained.)

But no matter your result, how do you ensure you’re making the time to be creative or giving your team the chance to be creative? Share your ideas in the comments.


Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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