The world has emerged from governmental attempts to control the spread of COVID-19, and demand for online everything—from retail shopping to business meetings—remains strong. The events management industry is no exception. More than 70% of event planners say they will offer fully remote or hybrid events. That’s just one of the trends event managers are incorporating, along with visitor expectations for self-care, wellness, diversity, sustainability, and personalization.
What’s the 30,000-foot View?
Five trends are emerging and, depending on any given event’s business sector, could be a factor in planning. This brief is a high-level view of trends that could apply to your next event or tradeshow.
1 – Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (DEI)
Just as businesses in all sectors are embracing policies that support and accept people regardless of race, sex, and gender identity, and other differentiators, expect DEI to be an ongoing theme for marketing, entertainment, and venue hosts. A music industry event should include a speaker or two with iconoclastic ideas, as well as marginalized voices or those that represent an overlooked subgenre.
2 – Multifunction and Multipurpose Use
Finding two or more ways to use locations, tradeshow take-aways, and structures is now the norm. Think about ways to make something serve more than one purpose. Use a “swag bag,” for instance, to promote a charity or an environmental or social concern. Getting the biggest bang from your event buck depends on how many ways you can multi-purpose elements of the conference.
3 – Mindfulness and Well-Being
A lingering symptom of the COVID-19 outbreak is the value people put on mindfulness and wellbeing. The prolonged government restrictions ingrained a heightened sense of self-care, and trade shows should build cautions and resources into the conference and encourage exhibitors and participants to follow suit. Strategies for that could differ by industry: a music trade show might not adopt the same measures as a retirement industry event. Regardless, planners or managers who think about the “self-care” holistically and are mindful about it likely will see an uptick in success.
4 – Personalization and Customization
Leverage technology to turn a crowded trade show into a virtual one-on-one event. For instance, apps for mobile devices can include everything from times and locations for session breakouts and speaker biographies, as well as music, videos, and other media relevant to the event. Participants—whether attending at the venue or online—value the convenience and independence an app provides. Enabling participants to schedule their event calendar on the app is an important feature, and planners can use it for delivering a conference summary and “save the date” messages for future events.
5 – Sustainability
As with DEI, companies of all sizes are adopting environmental, social, and governance policies in response to customer demand for transparency on issues that are important to them. Don’t ignore your event’s carbon footprint or waste management. Remind participants you are aware of those issues and how you are addressing them. Think about recycling, reuse, renewable energy, and water conservation. Encourage vendors and exhibitors to offer environmentally responsible, fair trade, or recycled materials.
Looking Beyond 2022
Seasoned strategy and business development people dealt with a variety of changes over the years. Two years from now, augmented or virtual reality might be the norm for events and tradeshows. Live events are going to remain a part of our culture and a part of business practice in entertainment, but what people expect to get at their events will continue to evolve.