The new year is upon us! As we head into 2019, it’s more important than ever to stay up to date on the ever-changing event industry. This year’s trends emerge from the increased awareness of safety, social issues, and technology. As younger generations begin attending more events, bringing along new, perhaps unprecedented needs, it is important to adapt. Predicting those needs and fulfilling them is vital to staying relevant and providing a safe, memorable experience.
Here are five of the top event and conference trends for 2019 that you should be implementing.
Despite technology’s increasing role in our daily lives as a tool for discussion, engagement, and networking, face-to-face interaction remains an important factor in events. It may seem that clients might be lured in by the convenience of digital meetings, but Cvent’s Global Planner Sourcing Report 2018 proves otherwise. Events have been growing and expanding every year and the demand is expected to grow in 2019.
Getting out of the office and away from the stress of daily life is important for mental health, which is something to consider when choosing a location. Consider spaces that offer wellness activities, such as yoga. Something unexpected, such as a rooftop or even an island, can provide a much-needed break from the norm.
It’s more important than ever to create an exciting, memorable experience and the venue can play a key role in this task. Unexpected event locations will fuel interest and create excitement, which can lead to a huge return on investment. Historic and unique locations often have engaging stories which can be used to directly enhance the event experience. Even the city in which you host the event can help convey your message. There is a huge potential for creativity here that you need to take advantage of.
While the importance of the social, face-to-face aspect of events cannot be understated, it’s also necessary to remember that attendees will likely keep a hand in their pocket at all times, looking for any reason to pull out their mobile device. While it may be tempting to ban these devices entirely, Vincent Schlegel, the Marketing & Strategy Director of CWT Meetings & Events France, claims that doing so would be “perfectly counterproductive.” Instead, it’s “necessary to adapt content” in order to keep audiences focused.
Using apps to conduct polls and encourage participation in Q&A sessions is a great way to start using technology at your event. Going outside the norm and adding that “wow” factor to your event will have your guests taking selfies and posting on Instagram. Consider providing a unique hashtag that will encourage conversation and bonding long after the event is over.
Instagram-worthy locations, activities, and meals will not only foster community but provide brand exposure. Aim to provide meaningful experiences that guests simply can’t keep to themselves. In this way, technology can help drive the event instead of becoming a distraction. Finding the balance between these shareable moments and the right tone for your event might be a challenge, but when done properly, everyone can benefit.
Focus on Diversity
2018 saw big strides for diversity and empathy. From the #MeToo movement to the seemingly weekly viral videos capturing intolerance in public places, it’s clear that diversity is now a key factor in not only staying relevant but providing a comfortable atmosphere for all people. This trend is expected to continue into 2019. Younger event attendees, in particular, will expect a safe environment that suits everyone’s needs and shows a mindfulness of inclusivity and diversity. While it seems as though a single misstep could lead to online outrage and bad publicity, focusing solely on self-preservation won’t help with navigating such a sensitive topic.
Put yourself in your guests’ shoes. Will people in business skirts and dresses feel self-conscious sitting in a high bar stool or director’s chair? Will overweight or disabled people have easy access to all aspects of your event? EventMB’s list of 10 Event Trends for 2019 points out problems like “the poor representation of women at industry events in a widely women dominated sector. Problems like sexual harassment, alcohol abuse, [and] all white male panels.”
Just saying that your event is diverse and inclusive isn’t enough. Show attendees you care by anticipating problems and making a genuine effort to solve them.
The Joy of Missing Out
Events provide ample opportunity to network, learn, eat, and do business. It is easy for attendees to become bogged down in trying to do as much as they can, including leaving the event to explore the surrounding area, posting about their experiences on social media, and cramming in as many activities as possible. An analysis by EventMB found that at large events, “such as a trade show, there is an average of 120 sessions to attend, 10 to 15 satellite events and many miles to be walked.” Events can often feel like an anxiety-driven frenzy, leading to burn-out and information overload.
The joy of missing out, known as JOMO, is a type of self-care that involves escaping from stressful situations. At a fast-paced event, however, there is also a substantial fear of missing out on opportunities, which can keep guests from taking the time they need to recharge. Combat this by providing guilt-free opportunities to take a break. This can mean setting aside times in which attendees don’t have to worry about missing anything important or providing designated areas for relaxation.
Keeping attendees rested and energised will help them focus on the message of the event. This, in turn, will allow them to apply what they’ve learned in order to grow and change.
Peace of Mind
The worst, and arguably most important, trend of 2018 has been the heightened risk of terrorist attacks. While CWT Meetings & Events exploration of future trends describes the biggest threats to meetings and events as “travel disruption due to bad weather or strikes, road traffic accidents and possible health issues such as outbreaks of food poisoning,” the media coverage surrounding terrorism in 2018 has led to increased security concerns. Guests want to know about security measures and emergency procedures, even if the event takes place in a low-risk area.
The best way to give your guests peace of mind is to provide open, honest channels of communication, such as an event app. Communicating potential safety and security hazards and what is being done about them is a great way to make your guests feel safe before the trip. An event app can also be used to send out critical updates, such as security recommendations and the safety of public transport.
Liz Quinton, the Senior Director of Regional Operations, EMEA, at CWT Meetings & Events offers the following suggestion: “Carefully consider the location based on the type of event you are running. An Incentive should be just that; not somewhere where delegates may feel unsafe travelling to. Use a common sense approach when having to cancel or postpone an event.”
2018 saw continued advances in technology as well as social issues, which will continue to evolve in the new year. The added worry about safety and security means that 2019 will be the year of empathy. Providing a safe venue, a comfortable environment for all guests, and opportunities to relax and focus on mental health are important factors for ensuring successful events in the coming year. Younger guests will expect diversity and opportunities to connect and network on social media. Exciting locations and planned activities that encourage online activity will keep guests focused and enthusiastic throughout the entirety of your event. Embracing change and making efforts to innovate and accommodate are the keys to a successful event in the new year.
Whilst the latest trends in events gives you the edge in attracting and promoting your event, understanding the basics of event planning, layouts and crowd control are essnetials in the tool belt.