The event planning industry is rapidly evolving, and each year we witness an ever-expanding number of new and exciting trends as they make their way onto the event scene. In 2016 we’ll see cutting-edge technology, a broader social presence, a renewed focus on sustainability, and an eye on security become focal points as we change the way that we attend and interact with events. Let’s take a look at these event trends and the ways that they will help us become more connected in the upcoming year.
There’s no doubt that social media has become an enormously important marker of a successful event. Companies attending events are starting to lean more on their social savvy by engaging with attendees via social ambassadors. Social ambassadors represent a company and help expand that company’s social presence by interacting with event attendees. By way of peer referrals, online challenges, and prizes for sharing event feedback, social ambassadors can keep a live pulse on the scene. By way of social platforms, hype about the event spreads digitally and on-the-floor enthusiasm gets turned up a notch.
Creating a sustainable environment is a topic on everyone’s mind these days, and the effort to reduce our carbon footprint extends to the planning of events as well. Large events can have a large impact; therefore, anytime there is a short-term congregation of people, ingenuity must be leveraged in order to find the best way to host without waste. One way to calculate your carbon footprint is through the MeetGreen and Terrapass Carbon Calculator. This online calculator can help event hosts determine the carbon footprint of their events and find ways to tailor them to be greener. Other ways to reduce waste when planning events include:
- Pointing guests towards eco-friendly hotels in the area.
- Serving water in pitchers instead of water bottles.
- Catering organic, locally grown foods.
- Conserving water by opting for reusable, artificial greenery for decorative purposes.
- Opting for USBs loaded with data in lieu of paper printouts.
- Shying away from useless swag that will end up in a landfill. Opt instead for more consumable goods such as gift cards and vouchers, or digital swag bags that attendees can access online during or after the event.
- Renting on-site whenever possible to avoid the heavy weight of shipping and resultant ecological costs of transportation.
As event hosting sites continue to gouge attending parties for electricity and connectivity costs, many companies are beginning to look elsewhere for new sites that are both economical and novel. Hotels and conference halls are getting passed up in exchange for racetracks, outdoor venues, villas, casinos, theme parks, and other activity-focused sites. Changing up the usual environment can make a lasting impression on guests and keep them talking about your event.
Another hot event trend making its mark this year is matchmaking. Matchmaking is not altogether a new concept, but is fairly new to the business event circuit. Just like speed dating, matchmaking brings prospective matches together to build great partnerships through focused networking. For organizations embarking on new horizons and looking for key strategic partnerships, matchmaking events can help them find the right partners to move forward with. By combining nationwide and even global partners, organizations can present themselves to a wider spectrum of prospective partners during a single event. Matchmaking also provides the opportunity to collaborate with organizations in related fields to find novel solutions to industry challenges.
Technology has been on the forefront of event trends for quite a few years now. The inclusion of technology has revolutionized the way we see and interact with events, and assists every exhibitor and attendee in their ability to get the most out of their time. In 2016, data and analytics will continue to rise in importance. By using technology to gather large amounts of information at events, exhibitors can collect facts and trends about their target market. Smartphones apps, GPS tracking, and wearable tech will also become big players in the attendee experience. As organizers create check-in stations and lean towards gamification, participants will be turning to their mobile devices to gainfully interact with sponsors and exhibitors.
As newsreels highlight the need for extra precaution in today’s times, events are taking the cue and bolstering their safety measures. From technology that provides improved safety and security, to protocols that help secure better, more redundant communication methods, precautionary steps will become a priority. This focus on event safety has a two-fold effect. It shows attendees that the event hosts value their safety, and it also highlights the importance of the event as a notable occasion. Safety measures for events this year will include improved technology and backup, better evacuation planning, real-time communication, medical support, attendee credentialing, and event exit strategies.
Attending events is quickly becoming more of a practice in active engagement and less of a one-way conversation. Instead of sitting for hours on end being fed droll information via PowerPoint slides and projectors, attendees are invited to fully participate in the experience. With workshops, onsite social advocates and reporters, event-specific apps, live video feeds, hands-on learning experiences, and social media challenges with event-specific hashtags, attendees become part of the event and are accountable to manage their own level of engagement.
Events no longer consist of hours on the floor pandering to attendees via a one-sided conversation, only to see small bits of the event make their way onto the web hours, weeks, or even days later. With active social sharing, attendee participation, new and exciting venues, high tech solutions, and a focus on collaboration, this year’s events will prove to be much more than the simple meet-and-greets of yesteryear.
Author Bio: Miguel Bautista has been the owner of Ranka Lasting Greenery (Max Kaiser) for over 13 years. He is certified with both the AIA (American Institute of Architects) and ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects). Ranka is the next generation of decorative landscaping. This decorating solution is eco-friendly and practical, as it requires no water, no fertilizer, and no pruning. For more eco-friendly design tips, follow his blog.