In recent years, we have seen that classic conference formats have encountered greater difficulties in attracting the same number of visitors and exhibitors as before. The congress public has changed, and their expectations about what an event should offer have grown beyond conferences and debates on the main stage. To stay relevant in a changing industry, event organizers must adapt and develop their event concepts.
Technology companies and startups, which are not oblivious to innovation, seem to be leading the trend towards a festive celebration of large-scale events and congresses. South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, USA, Web Summit in Lisbon or Slush in Helsinki are three outstanding examples of technological events that have intimate spaces and areas, they have introduced new activities such as food, music, entertainment, and workshops, and they have diversified the contents in different scenarios to supply the interests of the visitors. Increasingly, spaces dedicated to social networks are created to encourage visitors to create the best content and thus amplify and viralize the event’s message.
You’ll see that most of the items mentioned below overlap in different aspects. This is because not only technology has provided us with a vast new horizon for event making but also it has shifted our focus to a more immersive experience for the attendees.
Unusual and unique venues
Whereas before your average hotel conference room seemed like the only alternative, now, hotels themselves are trying to catch up with unusual and innovative event spaces and provide memorable experiences to their guests, whether in Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Brussels… the list goes on.
Only 16% of event planners affirm that they are extremely certain of their venue when they begin the sourcing process. For this reason, also, options for a centralized and easy sourcing service are becoming more and more pivotal for the events industry. To provide an easy platform where you can not only find a unique venue for your event but all the other services your event might need, from catering to the accommodation of your guests, saves so much time for event planners anywhere.
Diversity & Inclusion
Before digging into the broad topic of diversity, inclusion, and representation, it should be understood that it is not merely a trend, but more and more we see it as a necessary and long-forsaken value that has brought people together from all industries and domains. And this value is only going to expand in the near future.
Living in an integrated and diverse society requires even the events industry to adapt and evolve accordingly. How diverse was the representation on the panel in the last conference you attended, whether through ethnicity, religion, gender, or age? Various conferences and congresses such as Web Summit hosted yearly in Lisbon, have, for instance, including initiatives such as a “Women in Tech” lounge which provided a platform to empower women in tech companies and communities around the world.
Make your branding instagrammable
The legacy of your event can be done by more than just your marketing team. Your attendees are largely responsible for the image of your event in the social media age. From the decoration tactics of your event to the food plates you serve, to initiatives like photo booths or a fancy red carpet moment. Expect events to embrace this trend even more in 2020.
Technology is taking over
From the pre-production phase of your event, with collab tools and software and even the possibility to visit venues with VR technology. During the event itself, with more and more personalized experiences provided to your guests through a smartphone with interactive apps, gamification, polls and much more! Many event planners are thinking of different ways we can use technology today.
Another way is to use data-driven tactics to make sure the experience of everyone in your event is personalized and catered to everybody’s needs and wants. How do you personalize an event? You can let your attendees decide by themselves what breakout sessions and talks they want to attend by providing a customizable agenda in your event’s app. Apps can use the attendees’ data and interests to “match” them with other complementary guests in order to instigate networking and memorable interactions.
Sustainability & Eco-friendliness
Trade Shows is the second industry to produce the most waste in the world. Sustainability and reduction of wastes will (we hope!) continue to increase. More and more, attendees demand sustainable incentives and codes of conduct from their events. Moreover, taking an extra step with eco-friendly initiatives is always rewarded with online visibility and representation. It’s a win-win.
Reducing unnecessary flying is also an emerging awareness of event planners. Today you can literally avoid flying and visit a venue through Virtual Reality, which avoids the need of event planners to travel to the actual venue in order to see and understand it. Additionally, we have seen actual events held completely through VR and AR, such as F8 (Facebook Developers Conference) and Google I/O 2020.
Everything is user experience, from the registration booths until the aftermath of your event. Mapping out your guests’ experience is pivotal for today’s memorable event. The best and the only way to do this is to think innovatively about every environment your guest will occupy. How can you make your coffee breaks a memorable experience? What are new ways of doing presentations that could inspire the audience in an unprecedented way? How can new technologies provide an immersive experience for your event? Traditional planning vastly being thrown out of the scope in 2020: the tools and possibilities that are provided nowadays require a new way of planning experiential events, which is super exciting!
How to turn your event into an experience than by not turning it into a festival layout? Perhaps the best example of this new trend is Forbes’ Under 30 Summit, a gathering of 7k 30 and under entrepreneurs, where an actual music festival is hosted from within the event. The term festivalization, however, is not necessarily reduced to music festivals.
In general, the tendency to festivalize congresses is an opportunity for the development of the industry. The transformation of the event concept itself offers the opportunity to target new audiences and diversify their own audience. Contemporary formats that are more entertaining are also aimed at a younger and more international target group.
Make your event linger
In the digital age, all information should be not only digital but shareable and boundless. Make your event linger by producing all the microcontent that is relevant to your guests and your brand. This may be either written articles based on the event’s presentation, podcasts, infographics, tweets, slides, videos, pictures… The possibilities are endless. Drive all that traffic back to you!