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Trending in 2018: A new look and feel for events

As we enter the new year, associations can expect to see some emerging trends, from artificial intelligence to increases in security to social media marketing and newly designed event experiences.

Event Manager Blog recently released its report of 2018 event trends. The report looks at technology, venues, marketing and social media, destination, experience, event décor and destination management.

Let’s take event experience.

We’re reading more about the importance of mindfulness and health during conferences, and the report says this topic will continue to be an emerging trend in 2018.

From design to food breaks to conversations about mental health, wellness is a priority at events. Instead of cookies and chips, organizations will offer healthy snacks and frequent chances to hydrate. At the same time, opportunities to destress – include massages and quiet lounges – will become increasingly common, the report says.

And corporate social responsibility will be integrated into several events. As millennials – who are well-known advocates for volunteerism and social justice – attend events, they expect organizations to be socially and financially responsible. So, things like diaper drives, food drives and recycling will make their way into events.

In addition, content delivery is changing. Instead of simply having speakers present information, organizations are exploring “learning coaches,” who act as conference facilitators, tying all the pieces together. The report predicts event sessions will gravitate toward hands-on learning experiences and group interaction so individuals can learn from each other, not just from a speaker.

The changing model is based on neuroscience. Event organizers are paying more attention to how individuals learn. For example, humans are social animals and learn by social cues. Social interaction allows the brain to learn based on experience. And this means less sitting. Allowing learners to move around will keep them refreshed, therefore allowing the brain to soak in more information.

Overall, the report lists macrotrends affecting the event industry: sexual harassment, security, bear market, professional change of gear, convergence of DMOs, CVBs and DMCs, association refocus and sustainability.

Of special interest: association refocus. With declining memberships, associations are being held accountable for providing value. This means more organizations will offer certifications, hands-on learning and tangible business opportunities.  

“The underlying current that flows through almost all of the trends in event experience is a further embracing of the human side of the event world, says Roger Haskett, founder of Event Management Experts, an author of the report. “Recognizing that the people at events really are the event and that their issues and their internal world should be of paramount concern.”

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