5 Event Trends to Watch in 2020 (And How To Include Them At Your Next Event)

As technology develops faster and content becomes richer, the events and conferences we plan must evolve to keep attendees engaged.

For savvy businesses and event planners, investing and integrating these developments around key event trends will see your events transformed into experiences like never before.

And what better way to watch the trends than through the eyes of the attendee?

With that, we present 5 event trends for you to watch in 2020, plus tips on how you can use and deploy them to your attendees, as the new decade rings in.

Event Trend #1 – Be Kind To Your Home: Make it a sustainable event

Blow up beach ball of planet earth on a garden lawn

Without question, sustainability is top of the list for event trends in 2020.

With 75% of consumers assessing corporate sustainability when making a purchase, sustainability is being noticed at events: waste, plastics and energy efficiency will all be in the spotlight.

Unfortunately, events are notorious for creating waste. With increased scrutiny of the environmental footprint at events, sustainability will take on a whole new meaning.

We need to look beyond current thinking that providing recycling bins and using paper cups meets sustainability criteria. Attendees are looking for real eco-friendly advancements that will make a difference to the environment and our impact on it.

Communicate your sustainability measures to all participants and vendors at your event. Ensure vendors play their part in eco-friendly choices – when suppliers are wasteful, your efforts may be lost and noticed by your attendees.

Takeaway Tips:

1) Choose an energy efficient event venue, or offer environmentally aware programs

Use the government NABERS website to source energy efficient buildings and event venues. Their search engine shows you all-in-one building profile info including star ratings, rating expiry dates, the energy and water use, indoor quality score, or recycling rates.

2) Hold the event as a virtual summit

Could you hold the event virtually? These summits are a line-up of speakers/experts in their field, who are interviewed by a host in an online or virtual environment. Viewers can attend the summit either live or at a time that suits them.

3) Engage a Certified B Corporation

Certified B Corporations are vetted suppliers that meet the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability, such as our friends over at AV1, the event production company.

4) Onsite automatic registration management

These self-service registration kiosks print name badges in seconds. No paper or plastic wastage enables your event to start on the eco-friendly right foot from the very beginning.

Event Trend #2 – Remove Complexity: Make event engagement easy

Female hand holding a cell phone with an event management app on the screen

With time poor attendees, and many attending on average up to 3 events a year, make your event easy for them to plan, attend and network – from registration, transport choices, easy to plan seminar attendance, find stallholders or meeting rooms, places to relax, eat and enjoy the event.

The best way to do this is to see the event from the eyes of your attendees – have you provided good communication about each aspect of your event, so attendees can interact?

Audit your flow process and ensure they all work properly and are logical (can you reduce the number of steps or can you eliminate any barriers?)

An easy event becomes a more engaged event.

Takeaway Tips:

1) Event mobile app

Your event’s mobile app can become the one-stop shop for ease and efficiency for your event.

Mobile apps ease the stress for attendees throughout the event lifecycle, right on their phone. They can take control to find and organise accommodation and transport, plan their days before the event, navigate their way around the event, all the logistics they may need for an effortless and smooth experience.

2) Interactive maps and wayfinding

Especially useful for large events or tricky floor plans, a powerful indoor mapping program can make it easy for attendees and vendors to find their way around the event. Digitalising your floorplans and giving visitors directions reduces the stress and time to navigate their way around.

It also enables event planners to highlight major sponsors, draw attention to other seminars or vendors attendees may not have considered, as well as create a better functioning event.

How can you make your event no fuss?

Event Trend #3 – It’s All About Me: Make the event personal

Groups of people networking at an event

Each attendee has their own purpose for your event. Whether that be to network, for entertainment, the content and freebies, or to discover and learn. Event planners need to change their thinking. Customise the event for every attendee – plan 2,000 mini events from one big event.

As we all know, attendee engagement exists at all stages – prior, during and after the event. This opens wonderful opportunities for event organisers to enhance attendee involvement and create more value for your event. By customising their journey, the attendee’s needs are met along the way – and the best way to succeed is by utilising your technology and data.

Your box of tricks for personalising events will be the data from your technology stack. Selecting relevant data will enable you to customise the content that each attendee receives. It will also eliminate information overload and the onslaught of unwanted notifications.

Takeaway Tips

1) Utilising your CRM

With personalisation, information is crucial to its success. By combining your CRM platform with your event management software, the additional information is now a powerful tool to creating a personal event for everyone.

It may be time to review what data your event management software captures and add new data to help you plan personalised events from one event.

2) Mobile event app

A mobile app for the event is a great way to provide customised content and information for the user and attendee. Using data from previous events, event registration and setting preferences in the app, you can direct relevant content to each person.

Ask attendees which seminars they want to attend or their preferences or interests in an event. The mobile app can provide a plan and diary that includes suggestions.

3) Personalised networking

Networking at corporate events is the number one reason why most people go to events. Use artificial intelligence as a matchmaking engine for networking.

By gathering information from attendees you can recommend others to meet, seminars to attend, or even products they may be interested in. A personalised event becomes a more engaged event.

Event Trend #4 – Leave A Mark: Make the event an experience

Silhouetted event-goer taking a photo of the main stage on a mobile phone

Over 81% of millennials and 72% of Gen X say they choose to buy an experience rather than something desirable. When you also consider the average business delegate has likely “seen it all” at previous events, the message is clear – your event should zig, where the others zag!

What are experiential events? These are events that are engaging and unforgettable, they invite the attendees to interact with the event and businesses involved in the event.

How can you do this? Unique and sensory experiences with quirky setups, non-traditional venues, tantalising food stations, and progressive technologies will give your attendees a lasting impression and positive brand awareness – and leave the others with a severe case of FOMO!

For a recent event, our client wanted to create a memorable first impression for guests on arrival. So we created a seamless check-in experience with our Sprintr kiosks. We turned the kiosks into statement pieces, wrapping them in punchy event branding. And with our client freed up from registration, they were able to personally meet and greet their guests.

Takeaway Tips

1) Innovate with rich-media technology

Got a strong message to convey? Live-streaming, virtual reality and 360-degree video are great ways to create an impressive event experience, whether your attendees are there or not.

Augmented reality adds digital elements to a live video – think Pokemon Go and Snapchat lenses. You can introduce AR to videos, interactive 3D models, rich-media ads, mobile apps, documents, landing pages, to add a striking visual to events and booths.

2) The food feat

Social media feeds are full of the most ridiculously good-looking and eye-popping dishes imaginable. What better way to create an unforgettable event than through food?

Instagrammable, incredible taste sensations, and attention-seeking food gets people engaged and talking to give your event that extra oomph. Food is the win-win for everyone!

Try branded food trucks, celebrity chefs, unusual ingredients and plates, food with the X factor. Don’t forget the décor too, it is all part of the food experience and what makes the social media food feed stand out.

Event Trend #5 – Remember The New Kids On The Block: Make the event millennial-friendly

A group of millenials take a selfie after taking part in a color run

As the number of millennials and Gen Zs in the workforce continues to increase, we are seeing a shift in attendees with very different needs and ambitions. This shift in attendee value proposition will see event planners changing their focus.

Millennials and Gen Zs are highly educated and technology has played a huge part in their lives. They are looking for fun experiences (they don’t want to be sold to!) and want the event organisers to tell them what is important for them to see at the event. They need help getting off their smartphones and encouraged to network at events.

This new audience means that traditional methods of attracting attendees to events may not work and new strategies involving shareable social media and interactive technology may be called for.

Event planners will need to refine their marketing, social media, promotion and community building skills and campaigns to attract Millennials and Gen Z.

Takeaway Tips

1) Millennials travel in groups

Millennials love working and playing in groups. Plan and execute your event to encourage groups. This can be a social share button on the event registration, or group discounts to encourage them to bring their work colleagues or friends.

Offer them a break-out room for the group to meet and refresh with food and drinks.

2) Mid-session breaks to encourage networking

Millennials can be a little shy when it comes to face to face interaction but understand the importance of networking as part of their job and future career prospects.

Create programs that take the pressure off networking and encourages attendees to meet up with like-minded individuals or contacts from companies they should speak to.

A break in the middle of a speaker session can encourage people to get together to discuss the topic or throw a random question in the air for groups to discuss. Try a speed-dating like session, where groups talk about a topic or problem and have a specified time to discuss.

Introduce small steps to attract and engage the growing Millennial audience.

Final Thoughts

A woman taking notres at an event

The event industry for 2020 will see trends in sustainability, memorable experiences and new audiences.

As event planners, there is endless choice from your technology stack, the flexibility of accessing your information rich data to exceed customer expectations and a world of opportunity to create experiences long talked about after the event.

Over to you – what are your thoughts on upcoming event trends this year? Will you be incorporating any of the above in your event planning, or do you have some of your own ideas

Let us know in the comments below, or join the conversation on Twitter or LinkedIn.