There’s no way to keep up with all the changes that happen on a global basis. From new ways of doing business to innovative event technology, industry features and characteristics literally shift overnight.
However, thanks to the dedicated work of different experts from the meetings industry, we were able to extract a few glimpses on what some of the 2018 event trends will look like. If you want to check the first part of this article, just click here.
Today, we’ll continue the list of 2018 event trends we collected during the IBTM World in Barcelona.
Rethink the event design
During the IBTM knowledge session, Dominic Marder and Robert Loeschke, both from American Express Meeting & Events, presented a series of 2018 global meeting and events trends.
They focused mainly on the things that may affect the event design and program. Apart from that, they discussed the recommended actions planners should consider when designing their upcoming events.
Here are few of the 2018 event trends Marder and Loeschke tackled during their speech:
#1. Security and proximity are determining the destination choice
According to American Express Meeting & Events’ 2018 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, “Respondents around the world state that attendee security is always top of mind for meeting planners and owners. It drives decisions about mode of transportation, destination, property type, and meeting activities, and shapes meetings and events policy and programs. Safety and security have always been at the heart of risk management policies. As the risk of political or economic uncertainty in a region increases, companies are recognizing the importance of meetings and events policies and overall compliance. Concerns about security and stability do influence meetings and events decisions.”
The same forecast indicates that “with more and more meetings on the horizon, meeting owners also look to minimize travel times and cost.”
#2. Professionals will use the event tech in new creative ways
As Marder and Loeschke indicated, planners will show great interest in harnessing the creative potential of event technology. The main expectation is to create higher levels of excitement and engagement, so that the attendees can participate in the conversation.
#3. Continue the focus on the attendee experience
The guest experience was a big deal in 2017, and it will stay this way during 2018. As the forecast indicated, this will incorporate pre-meeting prep work and post-meeting knowledge checks. And since the cost per attendee is going up for events, professionals want to make sure more than ever that their guests are fully engaged with the meeting content so they truly feel that they got their money’s worth. To stay on budget, events may become shorter, yet the attendee experience will become more intense.
#4. Unique venues will gain lots of attention
As Marder and Loeschke argued, there’s a growing demand for “uniqueness.” This tendency will translate into a higher degree of competitiveness (who’s able to guarantee a bigger wow factor) and an increased interest in nontraditional venues.
#5. There will be more emphasis on attendee wellness
As the forecast also highlighted, “Several meetings professionals and suppliers indicate that wellness is an emerging trend to watch as we move into 2018. Enhancing the attendee experience is not limited strictly to activities and meeting content. It also includes contributing to attendee wellness, and increasing numbers of companies and their meeting owners are looking to appeal to attendee wellbeing throughout meetings and events.”
From providing more organic catering to offering meditation sessions, the way we treat our attendees will change radically, transforming the event into a holistic package.
Complexity is the characteristic that will define 2018 event trends. According to the forecast, “New demands to deliver on complex meeting plans require that meeting planners think outside the box and think strategically.” This reality will force professionals to rethink the entire event design and review the new ways in which they can provide unique experiences to their attendees.
AI is disrupting everything we know
When we hear the acronym “AI,” we tend to envision highly intelligent robots who may take over our planet one day. However, as Caspar Mason, creative strategy director at Jack Morton Worldwide, explained, AI is already here.
Mason noted that there’s a big difference between weak and strong AI. While we are far from developing a functional and strong AI, we are already using the weak AI technology.
It’s all around us—in our games, maps, apps, and chats. AI will eventually transform everything it touches, and is about to disrupt the world of live events and experiences. Here’s how:
#1. Data is the new oil and AI is the new electricity
As Caspar Mason declared for the IBTM World Magazine, “Don’t put your head in the sand, because ignoring this change won’t make it go away. Read more. Learn more. Start talking about it. If you can help your company make sense of AI and help them see how it can help the business, you might just make yourself indispensable.”
Gradually, both data and AI have become part of our professional game, changing the way we do things. In 2018 we’ll see more and more AI-driven tools that will not only increase the quality of our events, but will also help us innovate and upgrade the experience of our attendees.
#2. Mass personalization and communication is the key to future
Chatbots and celeb-bots (bots of celebrities) are a real example of how planners can automatize mass communications with the attendees. Having a pre-programmed set of reactions, these bots can easily help you engage with your audience before, during, and after the event.
After all, as the World Economic Forum AI Report shows, while humans are limited in the attention and kindness that they can expand on others, artificial bots can channel virtually unlimited resources into building relationships. As planners, we must understand that our events are gradually heading toward mass personalization, seamless user experiences, and attendee journey automatization.
#3. Humanizing the AI experience
When discussing AI in our daily life, Mason offered an interesting example.
He asked the audience, “How were we turning off the lights in the next room the ‘old’ way?” The answer was: “Locate phone; unlock phone; locate and open app; navigate to correct room; tap ‘turn off lights’; exit app/close phone; put phone away.”
How are we doing it now? “OK, Google, turn off bedroom lights.”
Extrapolating this example to the event industry, Mason indicates in the IBTM World Magazine, “AI means trying to get computers to think a bit like humans: learn, spot patterns, and make predictions. Also, communicating with technology is getting more natural and conversational. These are simple concepts but the effects are going to be huge.” In terms of the attendee experience, we’ll see a better interaction between the AI and the guests themselves.
This mysterious mix of machine learning and big data will help us to create extraordinary, personalized experiences for both our clients and our customers. So the question is not “if” AI will take over the event industry, but “when” it will happen. Considering this, 2018 may be the year we’ll discover the answer.
Fight wisely for your attendees’ attention
We all talk about social media and event marketing. Hundreds of articles promote the idea of a well-designed social media campaign to increase the visibility of our events. It may sound easy indeed, yet we can’t always predict the outcomes of our digital actions.
However, Pádraic Gilligan and Aoife McCrum from Sool Nua, explained why social media marketing is the area you must invest more time in. Moreover, they tackled a few 2018 event trends that will define the way we market our endeavors. Here are some of their observations:
#1. Give and … you’ll receive
As event planners, we believe that by creating a social media account for our event, we have the right to start asking people to take certain actions. And it doesn’t matter what kind of content we’re publishing on the account—whether it’s all purely commercial or just fluff—we do that, yet we forget that we can achieve real engagement with attendees only if we are consistent in our ability to offer something helpful.
This “something helpful” can easily take the form of free content that is massively valuable to your potential attendees. Social media will work for you only if you want to share and give. In other words, in 2018, build your social media marketing campaign on giving, not on asking.
#2. Go live and talk about your event
Going live is always stressful, even if you’re just doing it on Facebook. You aren’t sure of how you look or if the message you want to transmit will be truly relevant for your followers or potential event attendees. Well, guess what: Nobody cares.
You must go live anyway. People start to manifest an increasing interest for live (nonprofessional) videos, since these visual snippets can transmit a higher degree of authenticity and actually drive a connection between you and your target group.
#3. Publishing frequency and consistency will determine the success of your event
If you have a Twitter account and you believe that posting something once a day will do, prepare for a big failure. People need content, and they need it consistently. The same way you are maintaining a blog, you must take care of your social media accounts by creating and publishing content on a daily basis, and keeping all content relevant.
#4. Creative campaigns will attract more attendees
There’s no shortage of creativity when it comes to setting up campaigns to promote your event. From a travel photo series to a nicely presented story, exceptional campaigns have the power to unleash the emotions of your target group and get your potential attendees’ attention.
#5. Social media automatization is the answer
You aren’t alone in maintaining a powerful social media marketing strategy for your event. There are plenty of automatization tools on the market (with more on the horizon for 2018) that will enhance your productivity. From content-related platforms to automatic publishing tools, you have a wide range of options to improve the way you set up and launch successful social media campaigns for your events.
Social media marketing is not just a buzzword or gimmick that’s going to fade with time. On the contrary, its relevance is growing constantly, becoming a central tool for lead generation. This aspect, as part of the 2018 event trends, will define your commitment to content creation and value generation. Also, it will equip you with new means for online engagement with your audiences.
Although it can seem a bit overwhelming, these predicted 2018 event trends are determining the pace of the event industry. Obviously, you won’t be able to keep up with all the changes and the upgrades that are happening, but by being well-informed, you’ll know how to reset your planning and event marketing priorities, aligning your goals with the new possibilities you have. Good luck!