While it goes without saying that event planners should assess every moment of the event experience for value and efficiency, it is just as critical for them to adapt to the ever-changing trends in the industry. Event technology and shifting audience expectations are redefining the course of event planning and management.
Capitalizing on these innovations and consumer demands present multiple opportunities to maximize event revenue, engagement, and success, and resonate with audiences beyond the space and time of the occasion. Since events take months—sometimes even years—to plan, it behooves event professionals to think like futurists. Experience 2020 vision with our list of event industry trends to watch in the upcoming year.
Trend #1: Integrating Cutting Edge Technology
Incorporating technology into events is standard nowadays, but guest expectations for how to interact with that technology are constantly evolving. Technology offers actionable, recognizable solutions to obstacles at all points of the event experience, ultimately making things more seamless. Primarily, attendees will be looking to technology to solve their problems and enhance their experience.
Branded apps are at the forefront of event technology, making them an important aspect of event industry trends moving forward. They inherently establish touchpoints for attendees before, during, and after the event. They can help with specializing agendas, driving and assessing engagement, enabling communication, and even incorporating surprise-and-delight inclusions. Additionally, geolocation functionality connects guests with local attractions and activities and guides them around the event space. Following the event, app capabilities can allow event professionals to collect data for strategic plans in the future.
Artificial intelligence is becoming an integral part of future trends in event planning. In the event space, facial recognition can quicken registration and check-in processes and improve security measures. Chatbots can answer customer service inquiries with sophistication and tact ad hoc. And real-time event analysis, e.g. live polls, allows planners to gauge what is resonating with attendees most.
With technology comes complexity. Improving the efficiency of planning processes is critical to ensuring the viability of these incorporations. Event management software like WorkTrip streamlines operations and optimizes execution of corporate meetings, trade shows, conferences, and events of all kinds.
Trend #2: Personalization & Customization Are Table Stakes
With targeted ads, Made for You Spotify playlists, and a “Quiet Mode” for Uber rides, consumers expecting tailor experiences has become on of the most prominent trends in event management. Event professionals can leverage this preference by identifying and offering opportunities for personalization at every stage of the event life cycle.
Personalization options increase the “takeaway factor” for event-goers by empowering them to shape the event to their individual needs and preferences. Control over the event agenda and meeting formats takes priority, fostering attendee involvement and agency that drive engagement. Using data derived from rapidly evolving event technology, event marketers and professionals can craft effective personalized communications, suggestions for sessions, and recommendations for nearby activities.
During the event, event planners should provide options that are customizable and interactive. For example, diversify spaces to give attendees choices for how to engage with the session or demonstration. Offer a variety of content delivery that speaks to different styles of learning. Consider how the venue can be accommodating to different personas. The possibilities of modifying and varying the space are important details that can be gleaned during the planning process by collaborating with venues and presenters.
Trend #3: Hosting at Unconventional Venues
Based on new research from the Experience Institute, 71% of people consider the destination in the decision to attend an event. This means that destination will play an important role in event industry trends moving forward. Creative and offbeat venues pique interest, increase attendee engagement, and create memories, building the event’s story organically. Transforming an unexpected space also establishes innovativeness and value for the brand. Think beyond the ballroom -- warehouses, museums, studios, gardens, to name a few nontraditional venues -- to really capture audience interest. Artistic venues that feature “Instagrammable” backdrops and spaces are particularly appealing to social media-savvy event-goers. And when they share photos on their platforms, it raises the profile of the event.
When choosing a destination, event planners should also consider what the surrounding area offers in terms of nightlife, adventure, and dining, so that attendees can enjoy it in their leisure time. Activities outside the main event amplify the overall experience and commemorate the time spent, especially as attitudes about work-life balance popularize the concept of “bleisure” -- business and leisure, amalgamated. Cultural enrichment, exploration, and authentic interactions resonate with attendees beyond the event, while remaining a part of the event experience.
Lastly, event professionals should appraise what the venue offers in the way of sustainability. Today’s consumers are hyper-aware of their carbon footprints and expect their experiences to be equipped with sustainable options and features. LEED certifications, energy efficiency, local food initiatives, and natural and reusable products are key eco-friendly elements for planners to implement.
Trend #4: Creating Interactive Event Experiences
Technology is also an important part of event industry trends. Once event planners incorporate technology into the experience, increase customizability, and choose a unique destination, the next step is to design exciting and interactive activations. Live moments and immersive activities invigorate events and are more personal, meaningful, and distinctive, hitting on other aspects of consumer tastes.
Taking a “holistic” approach to activity planning is imperative -- that is, imagining new event concepts that are thematic and purposeful. Give thought to differentiating content delivery to drive attendee engagement and information retainment. There are infinitely more interesting ways to convey a message than via a speaker at a podium. Prime ways to enliven learning and networking are to include virtual reality or augmented reality content, gamification, and live entertainment.
Event professionals should create as many opportunities that encourage interaction and conversation as possible. In an increasingly digital world, audiences still crave face-to-face experiences, and networking opportunities are a driving force of attendance for corporate gatherings. Break away from static presentations and meeting rooms and promote spontaneity. Sessions in “collision spaces” -- less seating, open areas -- encourage movement and interaction.
Trend #5: Wellness Integrations are a Must
Wellness transcends just physical health now, making it a buzzword for event experiences. Considering mental health influences several aspects of planning, including agendas, food and beverage options, lighting choices, and space design. Event planners should dedicate resources to attendee wellbeing and integrate mindfulness activations because happy, healthy attendees are engaged attendees.
Event-goers will appreciate opportunities to unplug at tech-driven, fast-paced events. Tech-free environments like lounge rooms, guided meditation, and massage breaks give them a reprieve from the stimulation. Event professionals can energize attendees with purposeful brain breaks to boost attention and memory Physical health is center stage as well. Availability of gyms and other wellness amenities will please attendees looking to recharge outside of the event.
When it comes to food and beverage, there is a link between what refreshments are served and attendee energy levels throughout the day -- along with their overall satisfaction. More focus on wellness is transforming cuisine offerings: plant-based and vegetarian alternatives, nutritional transparency, and lower-calorie and-alcohol beverages.
Rapidly evolving event technology, growing expectations for engaging, personalized events and increasing awareness of mental health and environmental impact are dominating the future of event industry trends. While a definitive forecast is unlikely in the shifting industry, one thing is clear: focusing on creating meaningful experiences for attendees will always have successful results.