Every year, the corporate events sector is bombarded with hot trends that we’re told will revolutionise the industry. Having worked in events production for more than thirty years, I have seen my fair share of trends and changes in the industry.
So what trends have been prevalent in the changing event landscape in the last two decades?
Technology has of course had the biggest impact, and has found its way into all aspects of the corporate event industry, enhancing them for the most part. In days gone by, delegates were checked in with the humble pen and paper. But today, registration software and apps help event organisers keep better track of attendees. The ability to sync with calendars, communicate updates and manage requirements allows for a much smoother welcome.
Large-scale presentations are still going strong at corporate events, but holding an audience’s attention has become more challenging, and so focus has shifted to visual engagement, where tech is all-but essential. Additionally, technological advancements have meant we now have access to a wealth of delegate data which can be used to follow-up after an event, extending its lifetime in ways that weren’t previously possible.
The rise of the experiential event is one of the most significant changes we’ve seen in recent years. Whereas previously attendees might have been content with one-way information delivery, today’s delegates demand interaction, and the opportunity for their voices to be heard. This is why the proliferation of social media is so significant. Event organisers have access to real-time feedback, as well as a virtual platform to involve their audience.
Social media doesn’t fully cater for this demand however, events have had to adapt to facilitate comment and debate in-person. Live sessions and groups should encourage attendees to comment, debate or trial. This paradigm shift has occurred alongside the social media revolution where delegates are not just a passive audience, but a partner and contributor.
Over the years, consumer expectations have progressed too. In today’s more competitive environment the emphasis is on delivering more for less. Event attendees now look for tangible benefits rather than simply wandering around exhibition stands and visiting a seminar.
Leaving without a richer understanding of the topic of interest spells a colossal waste of time for a busy delegate. Audiences want to take away meaningful messages and gain knowledge that can widen their skill set and improve their career prospects. If you’re not offering something of significant value to your audience, don’t expect to see them again next year.
For event organisers, keeping on top of industry changes is the only way to remain competitive. But a word of caution – passing fads can masquerade as game changers, so a bit of savviness is needed to discern which developments require time, resource and investment.
The most important trend for any event organiser to monitor is the feedback from your attendees. Listen to what they want, respond and you can’t go wrong!