Business events and friendship: Leveraging the sociable legacies

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Event Management, 2014, 18 (1), pp. 53 - 64
Issue Date:
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© 2014 Cognizant Comm. Corp. Business events are celebrated for their contributions to community and industry. They are understood to be shared social contexts in which people meet to advance knowledge, sell products, and network. Less celebrated and, arguably, less understood is that business events provide a context for the development of friendships. In 2011 an online survey was conducted with the delegates of five international business events held in Sydney, Australia in the period 2009-2011. The survey was designed to investigate business legacies of the events (such as investment opportunities, research collaborations) rather than sociable legacies. However, a surprising number of references to friendship were made in the "additional comments" sections of the questionnaire. Reflecting on this finding, this article argues that friendships forged at business events contribute to, respectively: the well-being of delegates, association membership levels, conference attendance, retention of personnel in the profession, successful research and professional collaborations, and creativity and innovation in the sector. Business event planners can maximize opportunities for sociable outcomes among delegates by designing warm and inviting event spaces that facilitate interaction, and by providing social space for the development of relationships, optimal conditions for sociability, and opportunities for play to stimulate creativity and build community.
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