event trends

How to Attract Millennials to your Event

Millennials are a highly educated generation, with 61% of them attending college, that are a valuable addition to any event. With the oldest millenials in their mid-30s, they are guaranteed to shape the event landscape for quite some time.

Get your Mobile Friendliness in Check

If there's one thing your website needs to be, it's mobile friendly. Many internet users do their searching, researching, and browsing on mobile devices. With lifestyles that seem to centre around being on the move, it comes as no surprise that mobile device usage has increased exponentially over the last few years.

Encourage Peer Engagement

Most millennials love to interact with each other. The fact of the matter is that they're more likely to attend an event if their friends are going. By adding share buttons to your website and offering group discounts, you're almost guaranteed to attract more millennial attendees.

Get Used to Social Media

Millennials are particularly keen on social media. It fulfills their inherent desires to be heard, to compete, and to cooperate on a large scale. With so many social media platforms at your disposal, there is no earthly reason NOT to employ social media marketing tactics. Offer your social media followers special discounts and competitions. Do whatever you can to boost engagement.

While social media is great prior to your event, it's even better onsite. Promote live commentary, videos, and photos. You'll be generating a buzz that lasts well beyond the event itself.

Event Catering Trends: Keeping it Local, Fresh & Sustainable

Amidst the hustle and bustle of your event, attendees will need to satisfy their craving for delectable sustenance. Event catering is more important than many people think. It's a really simple equation that looks a little like this: happy taste buds = happy people. Of course, it's important to keep track of food and beverage trends when taking care of your event catering plans. Gone are the days where mass-produced sausage rolls and fruit skewers would do. Your guests are looking for something more.

Local, Fresh, and Sustainable Ingredients

Farm-to-fork cooking is a huge trend at the moment. People want to enjoy well-prepared food that highlights fresh, seasonal ingredients from local farms. It's an extension of corporate social responsibility - supporting sustainable farming practices is a pretty big deal.

Events are becoming more experiential in there nature. The food should be no different. Peoples' tastes are evolving and that presents event managers with a fantastic opportunity to showcase local ingredients and local chefs or caterers. Find someone who has a creative spark when it comes to food preparation and you'll be amazed at the positive feedback your event will receive.

Portable Bites are a Super Trend

Consider the growing popularity of food trucks around the globe and it becomes clear that grab-and-go food is trending. Of course, we're talking about more than your average hot dog. People want takeaways with flair and pizzazz.

Snack foods that are portable and easy to eat are popular because of the flexibility they provide. At an event where attendees are intensely focused on networking, they'll want something delicious they can quickly pop into their mouths while they consider their next move.

Reinventing Comfort Food

There are certain classic foods that people can't help but love. Think about your ultimate favourites; that gooey bowl of mac and cheese or that crunchy plate of fries. When the craving for something comforting hits, there are certain go-to options that everyone loves.

Reinventing the classics is a major trend at the moment and it's easy to see why. Everyone loves an exciting new take on the dishes that fill them with a sense of nostalgia.

Hosting an event means making sure that guests are satisfied. A significant part of that means providing food and drinks that are exciting and tasty - something memorable that keeps people talking long after the event is over.

You Don't Always Need Event Speakers

Innovation is a huge contributor to the success of an event. During the planning process, most pros will spend a significant portion of their time looking for event speakers to engage with the audience. Events are moving in a different direction. It's more about engagement than it is being "lectured". Co-creation is one of the biggest trends in events at the moment. The crowd itself is often the source of knowledge and wisdom rather than just the speaker himself.

Participant-Guided Interaction

There's an almost schoolyard feel about speaker-guided interactions. Basically, there's no earthly reason for participants to be instructed by an official representative when they can guide themselves and each other.

Consider the impact of handing the show over to the crowd, rather than one particular speaker. After all, it stands to reason that the combined knowledge of the crowd far outweighs that of a single speaker. Dividing attendees into discussion groups is a great idea. Or, even more exciting, is the possibility of turning the presentation around. Turn it into a proper Q&A session where the crowd dictates the direction of the topics.

Compelling Video Content

When done properly, video is often more effective than a live speaker. There's something undeniably engaging about "showing" rather than "telling". Video offers a fantastic balance between storytelling and eye-catching visuals.

In many cases, you'll want the professional input of a particular person but realise that one of their pitfalls just happens to be public speaking. After all, we're only human so it shouldn't come as a surprise that some of the most knowledgeable and insightful individuals struggle with being in front of a crowd. A video interview with integrated footage and animations can work wonders.

Make Room for Entertaining Art

There's so much more to storytelling than simple words. Why not harness the power of the creative arts instead of the usual string of event speakers?

It may be worth your while to consider telling a story through music, dance, or acting. The concept works effectively in so many other settings, there should be no earthly reason why a conference would be any different. At any rate, you'll have a talking point that none of your attendees is likely to forget.

Event Management Tips: Keeping your Exhibitors Happy

If there's one aspect of event management you need to perfect, it's keeping your exhibitors happy. A satisfied exhibitor is guaranteed to book a stall at your next event. Furthermore, that exhibitor is definitely going to consider increasing his in investment. Essentially, what you need to realise is this: it's a lot easier to get returning exhibitors than it is to recruit new ones.

ROI Equals Traffic

What exhibitors are looking for, more than anything else, is a return on their investment. Basically, they want to know that they are going to get a decent amount of traffic to their stalls. After all, they signed up to your event to get as much exposure as possible. To them, a slow day is a huge waste of their investment.

Provide Both Online and Offline Information

Your exhibitors are going to be on the lookout for ways to increase their investment. Remember that their marketing decisions are almost always made by a team of people, so you need to have tons of information available. Sponsorship packets are always a win. Similarly, your online information needs to be completely up-to-date and on-point.

Content is King

One of the keys to successful event management is a proper content marketing strategy. Get your content creation efforts up to speed, and mention your exhibitors on your website, blog, and social media. Get the word flowing, get people talking. Make sure that your exhibitors feel valued and supported.

Get out of that Stuffy Box (Hall)

There's a lot to be said for networking that happens outside of the traditional conference hall. Yes, driving traffic to vendor booths is important but that isn't necessarily where the "real" networking happens. Consider setting up a less formal event where exhibitors and customers can meet and chat at their leisure - people are generally more comfortable in a setting that is less loud and jostling than your traditional bustling conference.

Assemble Follow-Up Lists

Anyone in the event management business will tell you that tons of sales often happen directly after event, rather than at the event itself. In essence, vendors are facing two types of consumers: impulsive consumers and those that need some time to mull it over. Your exhibitors are definitely going to want to follow up with attendees. Offer them an easy way to connect with their audience by providing follow-up lists in a popular format.

Your goal is to become the preferred event organiser for exhibitors in your industry. Remember that your planning and management endeavours are the heart and soul of the event - you determine how the day will run for your vendors. Make sure that it's a roaring success.

Virtual Event Trends and Livestreaming

Virtual events are growing in popularity for so many reasons. In addition to reducing overhead costs, virtual and livestreaming events are the epitome of efficiency, enabling organisers to repurpose content whilst reaching a much broader audience. Frankly, what’s not to like? It’s all about bringing people together without the pitfalls of a traditional, live event. What Counts as “Virtual”?

There seems to be a misconception regarding the relative “age” of the virtual event. Truthfully, the concept has been around since long before Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg hopped on the bandwagon. Event organisers have been toying with various degrees of varying degrees of virtual reality for years. The only difference between then and now, is the fact that we are rapidly overcoming any boundaries that may have existed before.

Livestreaming, similarly, isn’t such a new concept either. It’s been almost a decade since Netflix was launched - somewhat of a shocker in most peoples’ personal timelines. Since 2007, so many other companies have joined in on the streaming and livestreaming action, proving the popularity of the concept. In fact, there is a growing number of people who are cancelling their TV subscriptions in favour of Netflix and similar services.

In order to keep up with the trends, mobile companies have had no choice but to ensure that all mobile phone users have the opportunity to connect to any stream of their choice, irrespective of their location. People seem to have a need to be connected to the action in some way, for fear of missing out on the action.

Using the available technology to create more entertaining and interactive events is of the utmost importance - particularly when considering the fact that bloggers and influencers are using the same technology to share their opinions of events while they are in attendance. It’s all live, all the time.

Distraction: The Downfall of any Event

It doesn’t come as a surprise that distraction is the slow death of any event. Attendee interaction is the top requirement for a successful live event - happy, engaged guests are one of your biggest marketing tools. Word of mouth, whether via an online platform or in person, is still the best way to measure success. If your guests are bored, you can pretty much expect those live tweets to do some serious damage to your brand. If your guests are entertained and amused, they’ll take to social media in the aftermath for a storm of positive feedback. Who’s to Blame for Attendee Distraction?

Organisers across the globe are blaming mobile devices for attendee distraction; hoping to find a way to ban electronic devices from their events. Unfortunately, in the Age of Technology these event professionals don’t have a leg to stand on. As a modern event organiser you have two responsibilities: - Keep attendees engaged enough that they aren’t desperate to use their mobile devices for salvation. - Ensure that attendees can engage on their mobile devices with virtual goodie bags and entertaining media.

Organisers are in no position to shift the blame. With so many different ways to keep engagement levels high, it should be impossible to have throngs of disgruntled attendees leaving the event ahead of time.

Mobile Devices are Here to Stay

While roughly 40% of respondents in a recent survey agreed that it would be ideal for attendees to turn off their mobile devices before the onset of any meeting, the fact of the matter remains the same: we don’t live in an ideal world, so keep dreaming.

Most people own more than one mobile device. They need to remain online for work and personal reasons. Mobile devices are slowly but surely becoming a lifeline that most people are not happy to live without. Banning devices at events is risky for one simple reason; you run a high risk of alienating your target audience.

Use Mobile Distraction to Your Advantage

Instead of fighting mobile devices, it is in your best interests to use them to your advantage. Use effective engagement techniques via popular mobile apps to get the right kind of conversations going. Live polling is a major plus, especially when you consider the fact that you’re almost guaranteed to get more feedback than you would during a regular Q&A. People tend to be more comfortable interacting in their comfort zone (via mobile device) than they do when they are put on the spot.

 

 

Hosting a Truly Interactive Event

Event organisers may be a little sceptical about hosting a fully interactive event because it denotes a certain loosening of the reins. In order for attendees to have a real immersive experience, they need to be given the freedom to do so… and there’s no denying the fact that that does make the entire process a little more uncertain than the usual stuffy, rigid conference vibe. Perhaps that’s what makes interactive events that much more enjoyable. There are a few simple tips that make planning an interactive event less stressful for organisers who need to feel as though they have all their bases covered.

Professional Moderators are a Must

If you want your event to go off without a hitch, hire a professional moderator. There’s no way around it. You want a sense of freedom for attendees, not a full-blown descent into chaos. A skilled moderator is there to guide attendees on their event journey and entertain them along the way – think of it a bit like an adventure cruise. Every ship needs a captain.

Use Outside-the-Box Presentation Formats

Conferences would be nothing without speakers. Keynote speakers are the foundation of a good event. Without the appropriate tools, these talks would fall flat. Instead of the usual 45-minute talk, consider having an interactive Q&A session. As an organiser, the worst thing you can do is limit your speakers to a rigid presentation format. Spend some time asking them how much time they need for their “talk” and ask them how they would prefer to interact with attendees.

Use Digital Engagement Tools

A Q&A session is great when there’s enough involvement. In some cases, however, you do run the risk of these falling flat if audience engagement is low. In the Digital Age, people tend to feel more comfortable submitting their thoughts, questions, and opinions in a more “anonymous” format. Consider implementing digital tools that allow for this sort of interaction. Attendees seem to really enjoy submitting feedback via their Smartphones, for example, and you may find a more successful result by taking on a modernized approach.

It's Time for Marketers to Hedge Their Bets on Augmented Reality

Once thought of as a gimmicky approach to advertising, augmented reality is rapidly taking the marketing world by storm. Previously relying on klutzy QR code use cases, augmented reality campaigns were limited to simplistic video launches from a poster or product. In 2016 and 2017, however, we have much more to look forward to. Immersive Experiences are the Way Forward

Augmented reality is all about bringing digital objects into the “real world.” This is a little different to its cousin, virtual reality, which transports the user into a different space, serving as a distraction rather than the sought-after immersive experience so popular at marketing events today. Currently, advertisers seem to operate on a principle of consumer distraction - an approach that is rapidly becoming passé.

According to Text100, "The augmented reality apps market is expected to generate revenues in excess of $3.2 billion this year." The reason for this is simple: most SmartPhones are ready for this type of technology, making the entire development process much less of a hurdle than it would normally be. Generally speaking, augmented reality apps rely on behaviour that modern mobile phone users are completely familiar with. Watching a video, listening to a song, or taking a photo are intrinsic parts of every user's daily life.

Consider the benefits of launching a marketing event for a range of products, attendees simply lift their phones in the motion of taking a photo and are instantly immersed in an interactive shopping experience?

Visual Search is the Next Step

"Visual search" is a subset of augmented reality allowing SmartPhone users to snap a picture of a television screen or static advertisement, instantly receiving the full range of information they would need before making a purchasing decision.

At events where immersive experiences are all the rage, screens could easily be set up to allow for an attendee's journey of discovery. There is something infinitely more rewarding about discovering pertinent information oneself instead of being talked at or read to from a stuffy podium.

Immediately Measurable Results

One of the greatest benefits for marketers is the fact that augmented reality campaigns are immediately measurable. Some quick investigation from their desktops will show results regarding in-app camera click, the type of device used, the gender, location and time of engagement. This is the type of brand-owned insight that enables marketers to track certain behaviours that until recently have remained a somewhat "closed book".

Essentially, with the right approach, augmented reality can turn modern marketing its head - in the best possible way, of course.

 

Big Data in Event Marketing: 2016's Biggest Trend

Big Data has been described as being “the accumulation, storage and manipulation” of very large data sets, and has been a steadily growing trend in the event marketing industry in 2016. Jan Sysmans, DoubleDutch’s Head of International Marketing, believes that the use of big data will replace the industry’s reliance on anecdotal evidence alone. Marketer’s decision-making changed completely when web marketing, email, and digital advertisements became commonplace. Another change is due with the digitization of the event marketing industry, granting marketers access to a wealth of deep data resources.

Sysmans also believes that laptop usage will decline in favour of mobile devices, paper handouts will be increasingly phased out by digital content, and an increase in useful data being collected through techniques such as polling, sentiment analysis, and “real time lead and contact scanning”. Additionally, attendees have shown an interest in actively participating in events, allowing them to mould the event to their liking. Liz King, the Chief Event Specialist of Liz King Events also predicts a big focus on data collection as planners gain experience and skill with accessing and successfully channelling big data. “I’m excited to see how planners will embrace big data and all the changes we’ll see at our events because of it.”

Zeta Interactive CEO, David Steinberg believes that big data’s event evolution throughout 2016 and the years to come will include five main areas of improvement. The first of these is the unification of databases into one highly efficient, user friendly combination of transactional and predictive data. He believes that the next logical step will be the need for real-time data streaming from an array of devices, along with a method of harnessing and actioning them in real time to streamline the process and deliver an exceptional experience for attendees. Steinberg also predicts the rapid adoption of increasingly available and accessible machine learning tools, many of which are already gaining momentum. He also believes in the increased popularity and advantages associated with the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as the re emergence of meta- and master-data with the aim of improving usability and security.

Experts and industry insiders tend to agree that 2016 is a big year for the adoption of big data technologies and techniques, which will revolutionise the event marketing industry and lead to even more impressive, popular events.

Keeping Up with the Evolution of Marketing

Marketing is constantly evolving, always growing to include new ideas, new combinations of tactics, and new insight into current practises. At the moment, marketing is heavily focused on social media channels to an unhealthy degree. Forbes.com’s Daniel Newman recently wrote that, “Social media is one platform of many, a tactic that does a great job of supporting broad campaigns but flounders by itself.” It’s important for marketers to realise that there is more to a holistic strategy than simply excellent social media figures. Social media should exist as a supplementary, supportive entity, rounding the end-user experience to be more palatable and accessible. Unfortunately many highly effective, more ‘traditional’ tactics often fall by the wayside. One such example is the careful creation of owned emailing lists - which can be curated to be of specific interest to each of your user groups. There are many advanced tools online that allow your clients to do the work for you, allowing them to toggle their areas of interest for themselves, giving them full control over the types of information they receive. In an article for Fourthsource.com, Warren Duff emphasised the importance of email tailoring; “If you’re going to deliver your marketing messages via email, do it right: this means displaying subscribe fields prominently and providing easy access to an email preferences centre.”

Content marketing is another often overlooked aspect that should be part of a comprehensive strategy.  Brianne Carlon, Rush of the Business2Community, wrote that every content marketing strategy needs to include interactive, bite-sized, personalized content - a trifecta that makes up the foundations of modern content marketing. Getting this combination right is tricky, “but if you can master the creation of quality content that stands out from the rest, operates seamlessly on mobile and offers a personalized experience, you will not just survive 2016; you’ll thrive.”

Keeping in line with the trend of deeper engagement and tailored experience, is the reemergence of relationship marketing into a prominent position in the makeup of any rounded marketing strategy. Clients want to feel valued, a stipulation that has the power to dictate long term customer loyalty, or utterly destroy a company’s reputation if ignored. There needs to be a large degree of accountability, reliability, and supportiveness in the business-client relationship. The key to making it all work is neatly summed up by PCMag.com’s Brent Johnson, “At the core of relationship marketing is a focus on working together—you and your customer—to jointly accomplish your goals.”

Wearable Technology Trends to Look Out For

According to Statista, 2014 was hailed by many tech publications and experts as the “Year of the Wearable". The burning question, at this point, is whether or not the trend will continue to grow or whether it will begin to slowly fizzle out in the same way that many similar gimmicks have in the last few decades. Here's the astounding prediction: The global wearables market is expected to reach a value of 19 billion U.S. dollars in 2018.

Healthcare is the Step Up from Sports and Fitness

Currently, the most popular wearable technology is focused on fitness. Over the next few years, however, the focus will shift towards healthcare. According to information detailed in a report by Aditya Kaul,  "Advanced sensor technology, miniaturization of hardware, and smart artificial intelligence algorithms will help bring wearables into the forefront of the fight against chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Expect to have your smart watch warn you about a stroke or heart attack, days in advance, which is when wearables will start to be taken much more seriously."

This is great news for businesses in the health sector, who wish to get the edge on their competitors.

SleepTech is About to Take Off

While not necessarily a "wearable" item, the Nuyu Sleep System only works when a user is lying directly on top of it. So, in a similar manner to all other wearables, direct contact must be maintained in order for the device to work.

The premise behind the device is the fact that our bodies struggle to fall asleep due to the constant exposure to wireless technology. The Nuyu Sleep System retails at roughly $500, and claims to help people“fall asleep and stay asleep” by enabling users to “get back in touch with their body’s natural rhythm so they can sleep comfortably.”

Imagine the possibility of launching an interactive spa simulation where event goers are enticed by technology-driven relaxation.

Visual-Based Wearables

For a while, it seemed as though smartglasses and similar devices were seriously lagging behind smartwatches. The advent of technology like Oculus Rift proves otherwise. We are rapidly approaching a time when consumers can completely immerse themselves in virtual reality and augmented reality experiences - something that event marketers are already beginning to use in their planning processes.

 

The Uprising of Virtual Reality and 360 Video

Event trends are rapidly beginning to lean towards virtual reality, as the required technology becomes consumer-ready and the consumers themselves hanker after more memorable experiences. With the recent release of the Samsung Gear VR headset, VR experiences are realistically accessible to the masses. There's no doubt about it; viewers want to be a part of the narrative instead of merely observing it. Interactive Vendor Demos and Virtual Venues

Static demonstrations may be a thing of the past. According to Events.com, a marketing agency could deliver a fully-interactive, three-dimensional pitch to potential clients. The options for vendor demos are almost endless. We're looking at a world where event-goers will gaze in awe rather than stifle a yawn while sacrificing their precious time in exchange for nothing more than a goodie bag.

Virtual venues are another potential plus for event organisers. Consider the enormous potential of a completely interactive virtual space with no design limitations whatsoever. Furthermore, consider the financial implications of paying for server space instead of shelling out a hefty sum for physical event space and all the extras that go along with it.

An Alternative to Live Keynote Speakers

For event organisers who are keen to test the VR waters but prefer to have some traditional elements in place, Event Manager Blog suggests the possibility of holograms and Telepresence in the place of live keynote speakers. This would provide the all-important "wow-factor" without taking too much of a risk on something that event-goers might be unfamiliar with.

Spatial Audio for an Immersive Experience

In a post written by College Web Editor, spatial audio is described as, "spherical sound that can be experienced in 360 degrees." Recently introduced to YouTube's 360 videos, spatial audio will allow event organisers to direct attendees' attention in a completely new and exciting way.

As an event-goer, you would hear a sound and instinctively find yourself looking to exactly where it came from. Being able to direct a viewer's gaze in this way is an extremely powerful tool, one that until now has not yet been explored to its full potential.

 

Using Big Data to Launch Successful Events

As a rule, customer insights have always been based on data - sheets of digits, all representing a facet of the prospective and existing client base’s personality. The downfall of this approach has always been the impersonal nature of the system itself. Numbers don’t allow room for shades of grey, subtle differences in opinion, or unique insights - a limitation which requires assistance. Increasingly however, event organizers are utilizing opinion surveys, social media, mobile apps, and many other tools to learn out the personalities of attendees. This enables events to be more appropriately angled to the preferences of attendees and a far more memorable experience all round, as a result. The upside of this is that memorable experiences lead to word-of-mouth popularity, building exposure and future successes for your event. It’s not enough to use just one or the other either - they work best as two independent sections of a combined approach to understanding as much about attendees as possible and using that knowledge to give them what they need. Dataops.co has managed to reduce the differences between data and intelligence into a simple and relatable statement: “Business Intelligence helps find answers to questions you know. Big Data helps you find the questions you don’t know you want to ask.” Clearly, the ideal scenario is a combination of the two, weighted appropriately to best serve the individual event organizer’s demographic.

 

Omni-Channel Marketing: The Next Big Hit at Your Event

Goodman Lantern Omni Channel Marketing The marketing world is constantly awash with new buzzwords, but few have such potential to revolutionize the events industry than, “omni-channel marketing.” This concept is built around the expanding interaction opportunities that organizers can make use of to provide attendees with an engaging event experience, regardless of the channel they choose to experience it through. Mike Stocker of Marketo Marketing Blog said it perfectly:"Each piece of the consumer’s experience should be consistent and complementary.” It’s essentially as simple a concept as that, providing a cohesive experience that brings your brand right out into their favourite channel, be it a physical event, website, social media channels, or mobile app. As with any ‘new’ development, there are a number of trends emerging that can be put into effect at events, to skyrocket the quality and depth of the attendee’s experience.

One of the biggest necessities is for event managers to regularly review and interact with the channels that prospective and confirmed attendees interact with. It’s of utmost importance to find out what the customer is experiencing so that it can be constantly honed and polished to become the best possible set of end-user experiences possible, building anticipation, hype, and word-of-mouth marketing amongst the various channels. Stocker recommends that, “If possible, these tests should be performed by external and internal testers,” which will help to grow a balanced view of what works and what can be improved upon.

In a recent Think with Google article, Julie Krueger summarizes that companies need to be “measuring behavior, providing localized information, and creating the right organizational structure.” In simple terms, learn about your attendees’ habits, tell them what they need to know in a way they can connect with, and begin to focus every facet of your organization on matching the traits of your target market. Consumers can see through corporate pretense to a greater degree of clarity with every passing day, forcing event organizers to market and exist authentically, in line with their stated values. This increasing transparency and conformation to the market is a fast-growing trend that sets events aside from those grown from more stone-aged thinking.

Another trend that is rapidly gaining popularity is the intelligent use of existing client databases. iVend.com’s Kamal Karmakar points out that, “Using purchasing history to their marketing advantage, brands can target consumers with relevant messages that will help capture attention and as a result drive conversions.” The key point here is not exploitation of private information, but rather simply referencing their purchase history to gauge where their specific area of interest lies, the channels they prefer to use, and the types of events they gravitate toward.

It’s about getting the personal interactions going, curating communications based on the individual, and building rapport with loyal attendees on any channel they choose.