As teams prepare for their 2023 events, many are actively searching for new trends and ideas to fuel their event strategies. Many may not be yet worth the hype. During a panel session at our annual INSIGHT conference earlier this year, Katie McIntyre, senior event registration and reporting technologist for Opus Agency remarked, “In many cases, we’re not yet at the point where we can say something is a trend because it worked or just because it was new.”
So which “trends” are worthy to be acted on? In this post, we’ll explore some of the hottest topics in event planning and offer our perspective as a partner to many of the largest enterprise event teams.
Some ideas are buzzworthy but cannot be considered a trend yet. One is Web 3.0. The current version of the worldwide web (Web 2.0) is commemorated for its volume of user-created content in social media, blogs, wikis, and other platforms. It is because of Web 2.0 that virtual events are even possible. Web 3.0 promises more value to users by eradicating large intermediaries that maintain sole ownership of users’ data. This structure would allow event teams to more easily process payments and leverage attendees’ intent from other sites or social platforms to tailor event recommendations.
While the idea of a decentralized data may be appealing, especially to event teams seeking to leverage blockchains, cryptocurrencies, or NFTs, the current reality is that event planners will still need to use integrations to manage payments and pass data between their events and marketing platforms. With secure integrations, planners can come close to providing a seamless Web 3.0 experience without jeopardizing attendees’ data.
AI and Personalization
The concept of increased personalization that stems from Web 3.0 is already trending in the events industry. With modern event platforms, planners can leverage machine learning or AI to predict attendees’ behaviors and offer meaningful recommendations. Personalized recommendations are becoming even more important at events as attendees continually grow more accustomed to receiving relevant ads on social platforms, in news forums, and on other websites.
Event Series and Micro-Events
Other trends worthy of their popularity include micro-events and event series. Though not entirely unheard of before 2020, recurring events have picked up substantially since the emergence of virtual and hybrid event technology. These smaller events allow event planners to track attendee engagement over time if measured adequately. Event planners who use the same technology to measure all of their events are able to drive greater personalization by leveraging attendees’ past event behaviors to form recommendations.
Many event planners are employing a micro event strategy to engage smaller audiences for short bursts of time between their large flagship events. Likewise, others are using event series to reach wider audiences throughout the world. Whether these small events are made up of networking meetings, workshops, entertainment, or inspirational dialogues, they serve one important purpose—to maintain prospect and client interaction throughout the entire buying cycle.
AR and VR
Many event planners have been eager to include AR and VR experiences in their event plans. There has been talk of virtually touring venues to speed up the RFP process, offering attendees lightweight VR glasses, and including AR popups at exhibitor booths. While these may enhance attendees’ experiences, they have not been adopted widely enough to be considered a trend. In some cases, they may cost organizations more to implement than they are worth, or create other concerns. For example, VR devices that were once passed around at exhibitor booths have been under scrutiny lately due to their ability to spread germs from one attendee to another.
Not every “trend” is ready to be acted on. Some concepts may need to be explored more before they become staples of every event. McIntyre stated it best when she said, “Companies might be tempted to keep trying things just to check one box and then check whatever is next. Instead, look at what you’ve already done that was effective.” The future of event success is driven by the insights of the past. Event teams should seek to use the new tools available to them to learn as much as they can about their audiences and then use those learnings to guide future experiences.
Watch Event Learnings and Strategies for 2022 to hear more from McIntyre and other industry thought-leaders.