Live Event Trends for a Successful 2019
Time moves inexorably forward. Case in point, we’re already several months into 2019. How did that happen? Second case in point, as time stretches on, the things we care about shift and change, ebb and flow. For example, once upon a time, everyone was wearing bell-bottom pants, then no one was wearing them, then a bunch of people wore them again, then no one, and now they’re cropping up once more.
The events industry has similar fluctuations. New technologies rise, and trends come and go. Here are a few tips for staying on top in 2019 and beyond.
The Destination is the Destination
According to recent research from the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, an event’s location is the second most important factor for attendees (the first is education). According to the report, 78 percent of all respondents stated that the destination factors into their decision, with 20 to 30 percent saying it is the deciding factor. In addition, 85 percent are likely to return to the same event (and 77 percent would go to a different event in the same location) if the destination experience is positive.
This means that event planners must think about much more than just the venue. The surrounding city and all its amenities must be taken into consideration. For recurring events, planners must also ponder whether they will get more attendees if an event stays in the same location or moves to a new city or country.
It’s Time to Get Real
This trend has been around for a couple of years, and it looks likely to remain a powerful attendee motivator: authenticity.
It’s possible, likely even, that you heard that attendees want the events they attend to be authentic. And it is equally possible that your response was, “What the heck does that mean? Aren’t all events authentic?”
Authenticity, in this case, means placing the focus on the attendee. It means solving problems instead of pitching products and services, understanding what their pain points are and then giving them solutions.
Likewise, place the event’s focus less on branding and more on the overall mission of your company or organization. This shifts the emphasis from marketing to how your company can improve the lives of your customers and attendees. Finally, utilizing the right internal and external experts will add value to the event and can often make or break an attendee’s experience.
People learn by doing, and with the rise of experiential marketing, it is logical that many of those lessons learned would translate into other aspects of an event.
In this case, it is becoming a trend to include activities such as workshops and keynote speakers. This is another way to focus on adding value to the attendees’ experience by giving them the ability to take part in what they are learning.
The fact is that some people learn better by doing. Adding workshops to your events will help broaden the reach of your event by taking every attendee’s learning style into account. Also, hands-on activities can add a fun, playful element to an event. Being thoughtful in scheduling the workshops can even liven up the times of day where attention starts to drag, such as after lunch or before the end of the day.
Adding Online Experiences to Live Events
Offering the ability for virtual attendees to livestream significant portions of the event was once viewed as terrifying for event planners. Why would anyone attend when they could just sit on their couch and soak in the goodness?
Well, that thinking proved to be incorrect. It turns out that the virtual audience for an event is very different from the needs of in-person attendees. Most people who choose to livestream an event were never planning on attending in the first place. However, online exposure to the event makes them much more likely to pull the trigger and participate in person the following year.
Virtual attendance is a value add, but it is increasingly becoming an expected one. It is perfectly acceptable to change for a virtual ticket, just make sure that the product you deliver matches what you charge. It is advisable, especially when beginning a virtual attendance program, to just livestream a few highlights and keynote presentations. The goal is to deliver the most significant value for an attendee’s investment. Some elements of your event will translate to an online experience better than others. Since it is extremely easy for a virtual attendee to leave, you want to be thoughtful with the content you share.
All the World’s a Stage
This trend is as old as live productions themselves. An eye-grabbing stage presentation is essential to captivating your audience.
Fortunately, there are plenty of high-tech options that can jazz up a stage presentation. One example is projection mapping, which can subtly turn an ordinary background into something mind-bending and innovative. Of course, creative use of lighting can also really make a stage burst to life. But a bigger than life presentation can also be accomplished with some familiar standbys, such as creatively designed backdrops and 3D foam letters. The addition (and removal) of modular set pieces can also add variety across an event’s timeframe.
The great thing about an attention-grabbing stage design is that it doesn’t just have to be a feature that’s only used during speeches and presentations. It can be a conversation piece throughout the entire event, perhaps even utilized for photo ops.
Customization and Crowdshaping
Event planners have an unprecedented opportunity for data gathering through the use of event apps, social media posts from personal phones, kiosks, wearables, sensors, and much more. Through careful interpretation of this collected data, organizers are able to alter experiences and divert crowds in real time. It’s a technique known as crowdshaping.
Interestingly, when executed correctly, the audience is not aware that crowdshaping is happening at all. All they realize is that the event feels like a personalized experience on a massive scale.
For example, let’s say you notice that an area or booth where you would like to boost some lagging attendance. By utilizing data in real time, you can analyze the areas where traffic is high to get a better understanding of what is appealing to your attendees at that moment and why. Then, by making adjustments through your event app and to digital signage, you can alter calls to action and shift around the schedule to help motivate attendees.
Social responsibility and sustainability are important considerations for many people – and they want to support business, companies, and events that share these values.
At your event, you can bolster efforts to reuse, repurpose, and recycle as much as possible. For example, food service can be done exclusively on biodegradable plates, and all food can be locally sourced to help reduce your carbon footprint. Before the event kicks off, you can arrange for all leftovers (this includes items like food, bottled water, and even flower arrangements) to be delivered to community organizations like homeless shelters and senior-living facilities.
Sustainability efforts can also be showcased in attempting to make the event as paperless as possible by utilizing an event app. Even if you have to use paper, like for nametags or plates, these can be made from recyclable and reusable materials.
Keeping up with the latest event industry trends can be tricky, but we’re here to help. Give Event Architecture a call at 972-323-9433 to discover how we ensure that you stay on the cutting edge of the latest developments.