Industry Trends You’ll Want to Watch For
When it comes to the event industry’s ever-growing trends, there’s a lot of change in the works. Be it through advancing technologies, or a startup-led market that’s ripe for the next innovative, presentation-friendly ‘fix’—business is booming.
As pro event planners ourselves, we pride ourselves—not only on a successful 25 years in the industry—but on keeping our fingers on the pulse of other, relatable event-planning happenings.
One such leader in our field: Julius Solaris. Founder and editor of the Event Manger Blog (www.eventmanagerblog.com), Julius plugs years of research into accessible and inspiring content. While a more in-depth report can be researched on his website, we opted to summarize some of our favorite bits from his latest ‘2015 Event Industry Trends.’
According to Julius, the industry is only getting bigger and better.
Throughout the next year, tech will continue to step up to the event-planning plate, and attendees, in addition to becoming more connected on their own terms, will alter the industry from once-sterile events, to fully engaging experiences.
Which brings us to our first point: what exactly are modern event-goers on the look out for in the first place?
Follow the Crowd
In short: common areas that foster common ground. Spaces that encourage connections, participation, and interaction. And, thanks to the immersive elements of technology, future audiences will delve that much deeper via sensorial complexity and customization.
This year, it’s about allowing attendees the ability to better engage with presented content. Tools that pivot around easier interactions and streamlined connections are completely revamping Q&A sessions. By incorporating trends such as throwable mics (as both ice-breakers, and to curb public speaking anxiety), as well as apps that morph mobile devices into microphones, event planners can empower attendees to speak up and speak more.
Enabling said tech allows attendees more control, permits audiences the chance to speak from their own personal devices—and perhaps most importantly—encourages people to overcome any fear and anxiety behind public sharing, resulting in a more positive, personalized experience.
It’s important for events to allow room for serendipity, within structure. Rather, while planning a concrete calendar can be of some service, 2015 trends point towards a more hands-off approach. In short, “unplanning.” A stripped-down process that encourages more organic, spontaneous interaction among audiences.
Julius’ findings state that current attendees crave secrecy and value chance. Whether this looks like event planning with locals while traveling, to hosting impromptu get-togethers, to creating casual encounters where the RSVP list is kept under wraps, “unplanned” events acts to freshen the scene. Arguably so, creativity springs from a break from the norm, and implementing an air of the unexpected adds excitement to any event.
Whether it’s a corporate event for thousands, or a shower or party among close connections, everyone has some event planning experience. Julius makes a solid point, when he touches on the powerful sense of satisfaction that follows being personally involved, if only for a moment, in the event proceeding.
By this logic, attendees should stay at the center of the event. For example, enable them to direct some aspect of the show, or delegate DJ duties to those on the floor. When folks are involved in the decision-making process, and encouraged to engage at a higher, more operational level, they’re that much more inclined to stay engrossed, remember the event, and return again.
Old Space, New Tricks
This year, stay flexible. Designing environments that cater to attendees’ needs, wants and desires often comes in the form of portable, or “drag and drop,” spaces. Through reused or reinvented spaces, structures, or objects, events exude their own uniqueness, and crowds become fully immersed in the overall experience. It’s important to host events that combine creative elements with the charismatic, personal touches with professional essentials.
Plan on It
While Julius tracked several trends rippling across modern audiences, he also measured exciting moves from our own event planner’s standpoint. Current tech trends include heightened interaction, improved sponsor experience, and a more consistent, better-engaged feedback loop among audiences (both online and face-to-face).
Thanks to microlocation tools like beacons, Wi-Fi and smart makers, attendees are being offered a more targeted event experience. Printed show guides are making way for user-friendly, digital documents—all accessible via mobile devices. Since these devices can now more accurately locate attendees, larger amounts of data can be collected by the experience.
In short, this allows for increased feedback, more meaningful interaction with performers, and real-time engagement tactics. Additionally microlocation creates more opportunities for overlap within marketing initiatives (IE: competitions and scavenger hunts), and enables attendees control over their own map, as they navigate through the event.
A Need for Network
Regardless of the size of your event, sponsors will add relevance and value. That said, traditional forms of funding methods are no longer working. Brands that employ event sponsorship as marketing tools are struggling to decipher which events are the most effective to engage in. Likewise, planning professionals are often pressed to find new opportunities.
Various companies offer matchmaking services that act as a bridge between sponsors and planners alike. By analyzing the key statistics of an event, and gathering requirements from sponsors, these companies can connect each side of the event-planning equation. As a result, compatible audience/sponsor matches strengthen the overall brand experience, and the attendee becomes even more interested in supporting the event.
A Constructive Recap
As event planners know, collecting feedback can be as challenging as it is constructive. Fortunately, available services trending within this realm focus on asking more meaningful questions, as well as organizing relevant answers. Valuable insight into what your attendees are thinking can be collected via tools that adapt to given responses, and trace patterns among collected content. From there, more immersive experiences can be created moving forward.
Connect the Dots
Julius states that one of the main motivators behind attending events is networking. And we agree. Sadly, many planners still struggle to create substantial and captivating connections among attendees. While technology via mobile apps helps create engagement where there initially wasn’t any, it still often comes down to face-to-face interactions. With this in mind, planners should focus on in-person facilitating, and strive to create meaningful attendee-friendly events.
Run the Show
The role of the performer has shifted considerable within recent years. As content becomes more and more available, speakers are evolving into facilitators, instigators, and community leaders. Empowerment that starts from the stage can have a ripple effect on audience members. Current trends involve extending speaker interaction to offline audiences, as well as improving communication among professionals in the field.
Amplified, and diversified speaker interaction not only creates better performances altogether, it created additional chances for coverage of the performance, improves the reach of the event, and enables deeper interactions between the speaker and audience.
Full-speed and Full-on
In order to immerse attendees, Julius argues that it’s important to engage their every five sense. This is best implemented by constructing your event around the actual audience member, ensuring they become (and stay) the central role of the show. A deeper connection can occur by employing secret locations, utilizing the sense of smell, or including them in the lighting of the event through use of simple devices such as glowing wristbands.
The result is a more immersive, story-like experience for attendees, and a higher chance they’re both return again, and spread the word to friends. Furthermore, when attendees are invited into the planning process, there are less roles and boundaries, and more room for a successful experience for all individuals involved.
To the Future
This year, the industry will only continue to evolve. Due to spreading technology trends and the growing desire for more immersive, authentic experiences, events are leaving their traditional, once-stagnant shape and moving towards flexible, spontaneous, and more memorable experiences.
From where we sit, the future of the event industry looks to combine apps and other digital advancements with elements of co-creation and concept design, creating a promising, powerful year for everyone involved with event planning.