If you’re putting on a major event such as a national or international conference or a multi-day festival, it’s your outstanding array of “content” that will attract attendees. But, let’s face it. Today’s attendees expect a comprehensively outstanding experience — one that’s personalized for them. And the hottest event trends reflect that.
Large-scale events are always evolving as hosts and sponsors look for new ways to capture audience attention and keep them engaged. Not surprisingly, technology leads the list, but even tech-rich millennials want more. If your next event won’t be a blockbuster in size, with a little creativity you can still adapt any number of event trends to give your attendees a memorably head-turning experience.
Here are some 2018 trends to pay attention to.
Artificial intelligence is hot because it’s so helpful, before and during the event. Apps and chatboxes can register participants, provide alerts and reminders, answer individual questions, facilitate audience Q&A, and promote social sharing.
Not only will an app make the event more convenient for the attendees, but it will also capture data such as tracking their behavior and soliciting input in real time, allowing you to make tailored changes on the fly.
From 3D virtual speakers on stage to virtual games, tours, and demonstrations, events are using virtual reality to broaden their guests’ experience. Virtual meeting spaces and digital hangouts allow folks to “gather” even if they aren’t face-to-face. Virtual reality can enable off-site participation, too.
RFID wristbands shorten lines at registration and inside your event. Many events now let attendees use them for cashless purchases, too.
Go somewhere new. You could hold your event at a conference center, hotel, or stadium, but why not choose a venue that augments the overall experience? A museum, for example. Head outdoors, for the whole thing or a reception. Build a pop-up space. Within your event, use interactive displays, Tweet walls, etc. to invite engagement.
Local Food and Drinks
Upping the ante on food and beverage delivers the unexpected and feeds everyone’s compulsion to post food photos online. Go local with food trucks, micro-brews, wines. Do tastings or demos as well as meals. Create cabaret-style space that’s cozier and more inviting than a dining hall, and use strategically placed monitors or other technology to bring presentations up close.
Appeal to All Five Senses
Make it more sensual. You’ve probably got a handle on sight and sound. (Hint: Heroic Productions can help with that.) But setting the mood by incorporating the other senses — touch, taste, and smell — triggers a visceral, more lasting response. Think comfy seating, relaxing music or lighting, the scent of endorsed products, and hands-on activities or demos.
The point isn’t to make your event “trendy,” but to reward people for attending by giving them the most for their time and money. If you can intrigue, engage, and inform them, they’ll be back next year.