As a follow-up to our e-book on event trends from earlier this year, we asked industry experts to spill the beans on what is hot right now. And they were more than happy to oblige!
Most of what they shared suggested that trends are changing fast. But there’s good news - if you stay on top of things, you can be that event planner everybody in the industry wants. The key is to look in the right places for opportunities, be a step ahead of your competitors, and most importantly, build a team who's a hundred percent ready to take on this challenge with you.
In the past, 57% of events were held in person. That number plummeted to zero due to COVID-19. But now it's back up to 30% and is expected to go up to 40% in the future. Hybrid events are also expected to go up from 27% of the event format share. (Source: Material+ and Hubilo 2022 Event Market Sentiment Study). Some people are excited about getting back to in-person events. Others want to continue attending virtual events, which is why event planners have seen record numbers with some of their events lately.
Event planners are in a sweet spot. In fact, BrightAV President Michel Arp encourages event planners to use this opportunity. He says, “I think it's a great opportunity to take advantage of that. Maybe you’ve wanted to make a splash at an event, a big idea. Just as long as you're keeping the virtual audience in mind and accommodating them as well.”
Miguel Neves - Editor in Chief, EventMB on the other hand talks about reinventing the wheel. He says,
“I think that the biggest opportunity that I see ahead is to really reinvent what a hybrid event looks like, what a virtual event looks like.”
He further elaborates on this opportunity by adding: “There's all this technology that works really well. It's way more stable than it was two years ago. It's way [easier] to access. Everything integrates way better. But at the same time, I feel like we're in a little bit of a lull when it comes to revolutionary new ideas.”
He's right, of course. We're at a crossroads of in-person and virtual events. Event professionals are still figuring out what the definition of an ideal hybrid and virtual event should be, and most technology comes with a standard set of features. There is massive room for innovation.
Event professionals and attendees have had a love-hate relationship with technology since the pandemic. What they need is seamless tech—tech so easy to use, it feels like magic.
Miguel Neves believes that invisible technology will be the next big thing.“I'd like attendees to register, click a button and flow through the functionality and tools very naturally,” Miguel says, “because I feel like when technology is invisible you really get people to trust the technology. And you know Hubilo is a great example of a tool that works well.”
While speaking about the future of events Michel Arp says,
“Give attendees what they want. Not what you think they want or not what another stakeholder thinks they want, but what they really want.”
What attendees really want is bite-sized chunks of targeted content. As event planners, your goal should be to deliver events that are relevant and enlightening—not lengthy and overwhelming.
Brianna Elenes - Product Partnership Manager of Freeman also mirrors this line of thought. “We have all this content, and we could be using that content and curating exactly what we want to say,” states Elenes while referring to the content generated from events. “It's almost like editing for the newsfeed to put those highlights out in the world. I'd be excited to see that over time.”
Metaverse, NFT, VR, AI, crypto…these technologies are the future of events. But these are also buzzwords for the most part right now. Miguel elaborates on the topic:
“Most platforms aren't at a place that everybody can use, and it's not super comfortable to kind of wear it for a long time.”
He also warns not to be fooled easily.
“I'm interested in how the technology is developing. We're not quite there. And there are a lot of, [un]savory things happening in that space that we should all kind of watch out for.”
People seek a sense of belonging. It’s basic human nature. Period. So learning how to build communities and truly engage with them, whether it's in-person, virtually, or through synchronous or asynchronous mediums, is a skill that will last event planners forever.
As Miguel Neves rightly puts it, “We all know that we want an event that is customized to us. That is small. That is nice and tangible. But then when it comes to marketing our own events, we go big, we talk about keynotes and the big splashy things. And I think that at some point we have to stop. At some point, we have to be strong and [say] let's do a small community event because that's what people really want. And that's what people really need.”
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When you’re planning an event make sure that your virtual attendees get the same experience as if they had attended in person. So, among the skills needed for the future of events is the skill to identify which sessions are best held virtually and which ones should be broadcasted as hybrid.
You can sharpen this skill in two ways. Before the event, you can evaluate the content of your session to make this decision. After the event, you can learn by getting feedback from attendees and using it to improve future events.
Mental health has become a cause of concern for event profs. Brianna Elenes asserts the topic by saying, “The mental health of everyone in the events industry is so sensitive right now because we've been through a lot. There's pressure on anybody that's involved in the space to deliver these events that are definitely more complex than they ever were before, and deliver them seamlessly.”
So finding the balance and avoiding burnout will be an important skill to have in the future. Michel Arp suggests some ways to do this. He says, “Being able to do this by assembling a great team early on, leaning on the professionals in various ways, whether it's production or, or planning, finding that balance of the what's critical to the event's success and what are those big objectives and prioritize those and then delegating some of the other ones but just staying healthy and taking care of yourself.”
On one end of the spectrum, we have challenges like uncertainty, mental health, and the adoption of technology. On the other end, we have plenty of opportunities. Between these two extremes are ever-changing trends.
If you want to succeed, be open-minded. Don't be afraid to take risks. Keep yourself informed about the latest trends and technologies. Most importantly, take a break once in a while. All this will help you keep your goal on track. All these things together will ensure that you keep the needle moving in the right direction.
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