Being right in the forefront of the event industry, we have observed various trends and how they change over the years. What can we expect this time around? As insiders, we get a firsthand look at what our clients and their guests want out of the event experience.
Moving forward to 2017, we believe the following 10 event industry trends deserve special attention.
1. Virtual Reality
Virtual reality’s (VR) popularity is on the rise, especially with releases like the PlayStation VR. Older technologies such as augmented reality were first released in the 80s, and virtual reality has continued to evolve and develop alongside this. Today, VR has become more impressive and immersive but it by no means has reached its peak.
VR is inevitably the future and will continue to improve as technology goes. It’s one to watch!
We are especially taking advantage of the latest in VR technology. We have in fact just implemented a virtual reality tour on a select number of our venues. This essentially allows clients to visit venues via virtual reality even when the facility isn’t open for in-person visits. The VR tours are available at our London Bridge office or we can visit you at your office.
2. Data Analytics (DA)
DA isn’t really anything new in itself. People have been analysing customer data and behaviour for years. However, we have seen the method evolve in recent years due to new metric tracking systems. With new software, event planners can track far more than just rudimentary data like attendance and ticket sale numbers.
They are able to track specific data, such as:
- Social media activity (e.g. hashtag popularity, number of comments and likes)
- Dwell times (how long guests spend time at each booth)
- Participation rate of surveys delivered via mobile app
There are dozens of DA software on the market. SAS is one example that is designed for business use. It provides big data solutions ranging from advanced customer intelligence to risk and security analytics.
This is the era of big data, and we are noticing more feverish analysis of minute data to capitalise on specific behaviour and patterns among a target audience.
3. Live Video
According to a 2016 survey, 27% of respondents indicated that they would be interested in watching a lecture or other informative content that was being streamed live.
Of course, no technology can ever replace the raw experience of attending an event in person. However, this simply isn’t possible for everyone. Live video streams provide the next best solution. A remote audience can partake in the the educational material of the event. Tools like Periscope and Facebook Live make this easier and more affordable than ever.
Live videos are one of those event industry trends that are going to stick around for several years. There is just no reason not to use it since it can draw an additional crowd by the hundreds if not thousands.
4. Experimental Marketing (EM)
We have noticed more clients experimenting with bold and out-of-the-box ideas. EM is a bit of a broad term, but it essentially entails any form of marketing that engages the audience to give them a more direct experience of the brand, product, or service.
Instead of trying to explain it further, perhaps an example will be more helpful.
Ikea held an event at one of its UK warehouses where it let attendees spend the night and sleep on their comfy mattresses. The event also included free massages and manicures, and an appearance by reality TV star Sam Faiers, who read a bedtime story to the guests.This is one of those event trends that we believe is going to explode in 2017 as more businesses strive to create that wow factor.
5. Immersive Videos
Immersive videos are similar to virtual reality. In fact, the two intersect in many instances. Immersive videos essentially allow viewers to interact with the contents in one way or another. Immersive videos are especially used as part of a bigger online marketing campaign in the leadup to the event.
A basic immersive video is essentially one that allows viewers to move the camera using an embedded directional pad on the screen. This has been used by various events, including the Dreamforce music festival, which you can check out here.
Like VR, this is another one of the event trends that is going to make a huge evolution in 2017 as the technology for creating an immersive video becomes more readily available.
6. Pop-Up Events
Pop-up events are essentially events that are planned under the radar. They’re kept secret until the day of the event and usually held in a high-traffic area. We have planned our fair share of pop-up events; they can be rewarding but also risky at the same time.
Your attendees are essentially the people that happen to be in the area. This is one of the many event industry trends to watch for due to its creative nature.
Boost Mobile did a pop-up event right outside in the streets of Harlem that featured some of the hottest radio DJs. The pop-up events we hold, by contrast, are typically held in an actual venue. Either way, a pop-up event has an element of surprise that gets people curious and eager to explore.
Pop-up venues are also easier to keep under wraps when planned in a somewhat obscure venue. Venueseeker Black is one place where you can find off-the-radar venues.
7. Conference-Festival Hybrids
The typical conference with a speaker and a seated audience feels overly formal. Remember that guests are looking for a memorable experience. This is why in recent years we have slightly steered away from the typical conferences and planned corporate events that are based on the fun and rowdy good time associated with a festival.
A conference/festival hybrid usually still contains the lectures and informative content, but may soon be followed by fun and entertainment.
This may include a concert or multiple booths with carnival-type games. Events of this type may also motivate guests to bring along family and friends who may otherwise have zero interest in the educational lectures and workshops.
8. Mixing business and leisure
The merge of business and leisure activities can sometimes be referred to as “bleisure”!
Many of our clients have indicated that some of their corporate guests attend their conference during their R&R. To give these guests the best experience, our clients seek to host a conference that also mixes in pleasure.
This sort of event typically requires a venue that also contains various amenities and complimentary services. After the lectures and seminars, guests may be treated to a spa, a massage, or a game of golf. This is one of the event trends we recommend if you have VIP guests you really want to impress.
Normally, guests would seek their own leisure activities after the conference. Event planners caught onto this and have begun incorporating it as part of the conference.
This is another one of those event industry trends along the lines of virtual reality and immersive videos. Our clients are increasingly renting out and bringing in all sorts of interactive kiosks with some type of gaming element. For the most part, this seems to be effective; interactive kiosks tend to accrue a long line of guests eager to try out the interactive feature.
More events, we noticed, are also capitalising on the popularity of mobile games like Pokémon Go. Several planners have marketed the venue as being near a designated Pokestop. Some have even organised group Pokémon hunting as an icebreaker, with “poké swag” handed out to winners.
Yes, we have actually seen this type of gamification for formal corporate functions. It all has to do with some of the points discussed earlier about combining formal conferences with fun and festival-like recreation.
10. Networking Events
While social media has made networking so much more expedient, it still doesn’t compare to the quality of face-to-face interaction. Our clients have indicated that their event isn’t just about the interaction between them and their guests; it’s also between attendees.
It’s not unusual for guests at our events to leave with a few additional business connections. In any case, your conference should also set the stage for interaction between guests.
You can include a network components for the event, perhaps through an icebreaker. The networking can even be a separate event altogether, perhaps in the form of a small meet and greet in the days before the main conference. When people make long-term connections at the event, they will view your brand as the catalyst for making the encounter possible.
2017 shouldn’t be just another year of the same events done 10 times over.
People want a unique experience where they can learn and play at the same time. Take these event trends to heed, and you will create a dynamic experience.
So, did this post generate some enlightened insights? Tweet to @weareultimatee to share what you think is in store for the event industry in 2017.