It’s difficult to think of an industry that’s undergone the same radical transformation over the last few years as much as the events sector. So, now that it’s back in action, what are the latest event trends?
Read on to discover the top 10 trends facing the events industry, and how they are being used to create more memorable experiences for all attendees.
Managing with staff shortages
While the industry itself is in slow but steady pandemic recovery, many workers are now faced with a huge demand for services. Understaffing in both venues and event management remains one of the top challenges facing event planners, despite employment projections forecasted to soar. While this is great news for people looking to enter the industry, the challenge remains for current industry workers to continue working effectively under increased pressure.
Thankfully, technology has been the catalyst for a changing events environment, particularly as it relates to automation. This alone enables managers to work effectively, efficiently, and cut time associated with administration.
More integrated technology/artificial intelligence
Using data collection to create a more personalised experience for all conference attendees, artificial intelligence continues to pave the way for the events industry.
Many events are turning to AI to incorporate elements such as facial recognition technology for contactless check-in, through to using personalised information to match attendees with booths, companies, and even other attendees most aligned to their profile.
Additionally, AI is playing an increasingly important role in the marketing of an event, with more tools available to better target potential attendees, and provide them with more effective, customised messaging.
The continued rise of hybrid events
Combining in-person and virtual elements, hybrid events are here to stay, giving event managers the opportunity to reach a wider audience, while delivering a more sustainable and environmentally friendly event. An investment in quality audio and production contracts will continue to become the norm for many event organisers, ensuring the development of high quality virtual content.
International event creator Tahira Endean echos this sentiment, stating technology is here to stay in the world of events:
"Unless you are planning a specific digital-detox event, the reality is we need to plan for everyone showing up with a device. We all expect easy access to information, ability to up status with social shares, opportunities to ask questions and be heard, and now access to NFTs and the use of social tokens.
We rely on tech for everything related to events from marketing to registration to management and content and the integrations between many systems – you need team members who understand the systems and how to use them.
For live events, every participant arrives with a device that allows them to follow and share your event in multiple ways. Make it easy for them."
More immersive event experiences
While technology is key in creating new event experiences, it is up to the event organisers to be able to use these opportunities to their advantage.
The more efficiently event managers can cater to the needs of attendees and provide them with greater opportunities to stay engaged, the more valuable and memorable an event will be. While there’s no shortage of opportunities - think tailored messaging, streamlined purchasing, real-time assistance, and virtual engagement - all attendees want to feel included and involved throughout the entire event period.
Demand for sustainable practices
Accommodation and venues in particular have been at the forefront of change in the commitment to more sustainable business practices. From removing single-use plastics, through to installing solar panels, and implementing grey-water use on venue premises, these practices are set to multiply and continue.
Utilising these benefits on site, event managers have also been proactive in incorporating sustainable practices throughout the entire event lifecycle. This includes minimising printed materials, encouraging attendees to utilise digital resources, and also creating hybrid event options in a bid to reduce an event’s carbon footprint.
Delivering multiple, smaller virtual events
The rising popularity of smaller (or micro) virtual events has enabled many event organisers to deliver smaller, niche events to a more targeted audience. Usually lasting no more than 1.5 hours, these events not only act as a profitable additional revenue source, but provide additional value to an organisation’s target audience.
Costing far less in terms of time, money and resources than traditional multi-session or multi-day events, smaller virtual events will continue to expand in both popularity and style. Examples include coffee talks, lunch & learn sessions, virtual happy hours, and book clubs.
Greater data security measures
An event provides a prime opportunity for security breaches - and with 1.3 billion corporate events taking place each year, data security is fast becoming a hot topic of priority for industry workers.
Event organisers are responsible for safeguarding a significant amount of attendee and speaker data, which, if not properly secured, can pose a huge cybersecurity risk. However as technology has advanced, so too have the tools to prevent an attack. Investment in cyber security measures will continue to be prioritised as part of the event management process, with additional training on how to identify suspicious activity.
More data collection points
Event organisers have more opportunities than ever before to collect and utilise attendee data. While predominantly used to calculate ROI and measure success, these data points can be valuable information sources to tap into and improve the attendee experience.
Registration formwork, website activities, surveys, app usage, and the plethora of information gathered from virtual and in-person attendees will continue to be refined, in order to help event planners create detailed attendee profiles, more segmented audiences, and determine what elements of an event was most or least successful.
The rise of non-traditional venues
In recent research findings by Social Tables, 90% of event planners agree that events are more likely to be booked in a non-traditional venue than five years ago. Non-traditional venues, including warehouses, museums, barns, gardens, and galleries are becoming increasingly more favourable as venues of choice. As event managers seek out new venues, venues such as hotels are continuing to expand their design and styling options to cater to this demand.
Increased mindfulness & wellness practices
Increasing in popularity over the last few years, events focusing on mindfulness, self-care and wellness continue to take place across many industries. Rather than being undertaken via back-to-back seminars, workshops, or delivered with a side of Zoom fatigue, these practices are far more likely to be seen implemented as smaller segments or activities within an event schedule.
Expect to see an increase in “unplugged” zones, yoga, massage stations, outdoor activities, and other sessions designed around wellness.