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Event industry trends coming up in 2020

December 20, 2019

The events industry is constantly changing and evolving. Discos once dominated. Flyers and posters were the pre-social media advertising avenues. Event planners used notebooks, diaries and week planners instead of handy apps and cloud-based technology. The industry is now adaptive and responsive, with event professionals using software to manage their time and tasks efficiently.

So what are the event industry trends set to impact the industry next year?

Unique experiences will continue to dominate

Guests want to experience something new and exciting. From the theme, decorations and food right through to staff service and even temperature – guests expect everything to be ideal. Event planners are tasked with evoking emotion, appealing to all five senses. It’s not unheard of for events to use scents such as coffee, flowers or essential oils to differentiate between different areas of the party or conference. This gives guests a totally unique experience but it also acts as a subliminal signpost to the area’s purpose – if it’s a calming smell of lavender, it’s a relaxing quiet zone. An area that smells like freshly baked bread or pastries indicates it’s time to get the day going, and vibrant citrus notes are a great way to energise guests.

The key is planning in advance

You might not need to reveal every detail of your event to the masses until closer to the time, to build suspense, but the event planning team should know exactly what’s happening and when.

According to socialtables, “80% of event planners reported that their jobs require more experience creation than just 2-5 years ago.” There are many ways to make an event memorable. You can either go all-out with an immersive themed event, where audiences are thoroughly involved in the action and transported back in time. Or you can find new and interesting ways to increase hype – such as hosting a secret event or handing out free drinks vouchers at your event. People are fascinated by the unknown and everyone likes to be part of the in crowd so capitalise this and get people talking.

Conferences will take centre stage

All too often we associate ‘events’ with birthday parties, festivals and fairs. But conferences and networking events are set to grow and dominate the industry in 2020. Many businesses attend conferences to arrange face-to-face meetings, network and learn from industry experts.

The traditional conference set-up sees huge swathes of attendees visiting a venue, with several seminars and networking sessions happening simultaneously. But there could be a rise in more bespoke, niche conference experiences.   

Julian Jost, CEO and Co-Founder of Spacebase, the leading booking platform for meeting and work event locations says: “The rise in providing more intimate events is also due to come into its own in 2020. Huge convention centres with hundreds of attendees run the risk of losing their authenticity, so event planners are focusing more smaller, more interactive and personalised experiences. Creating more opportunities for one-one chats both encourages meaningful engagement and builds trust.”

Hybrid conferences will become more popular

There is also talk of hybrid festival/conferences, where planners entice entrepreneurs or business people to a networking conference by arranging a music or food festival as part of the event. This provides a totally different dimension to conferences, which are often seen as a way for businesses to make new contacts and discuss industry trends. Hybrid conferences could in fact start to attract a completely new demographic.

Wellness will influence events

Event planners will begin to incorporate wellness into their events. Instead of harsh lighting, we’ll see softer lighting in certain zones to encourage a sense of belonging and peace. There’ll also be a rise in the number of events with breakout zones and quiet rooms, to encourage inclusivity and to give people a dedicated space to relax and enjoy the quiet away from a bustling environment.

Organisers will also reconsider attendee capacity. Instead of selling tickets right up until they max out from a health and safety viewpoint, planners will start to think of “maximum physical capacity” as “maximum comfort capacity”. Noone likes a crowded party or conference, where wading your way to a seat is a stressful experience. As part of the new wellbeing focus, we expect the guest experience will be the deciding factor when it comes to deciding on capacity.

There will also be a focus on physical wellbeing

Across the event sector physical activity such as yoga and running classes will be popular amongst guests – the number of Zumba parties are already rising. Event organisers should review their catering traditions in 2020, too. Consumers now demand healthy and eco-friendly food options. Street food vans or a tired salad bowl won’t be enough to excite guests – they expect genuinely nutritious food, across all catering styles from buffets to three-course dinners.

Events are also being put under pressure to ‘do good’. Corporate social responsibility is more important than ever – events should give back to the community as well as focus on sustainability. Events could partner with a charity, perhaps donating a percentage of profits or displaying collection buckets on their behalf. Party planners could also set aside a selection of tickets to giveaway to people who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to attend. The industry has always been seen as “fun”, but now consumers are looking to the industry to make a positive contribution to society, too.

Sustainability will be a priority

There are a few basic things event organisers can put into place to improve the sustainability of an event: reduce the use of plastic, go paperless, encourage recycling, combat food waste and work with local food suppliers.

But event planners are now being encouraged to partner with more sustainable venues. Some buildings use renewable energy, harvest rainwater, generate solar power and have urban gardens. Venues that are accessible by public transport may also be more favourable in the future, as it will encourage guests not to drive (thus reducing the event’s overall CO2 emissions).

Julian continues: “2019 has been characterised by environmental awareness campaigns and sustainable living, so naturally this has become a hot topic in the events world. Planners will need to think carefully about how to cut waste and go green, whilst maintaining the same high-quality event standards.”

Event organisers will be vigilant about cybersecurity

Cyber-attacks will continue to threaten the industry. Events handle a lot of customer data and information, which is worth a lot to cyber-attackers. Personal addresses, bank details, contact information are all potentially stored on your system so you must make sure this is protected. Event planners must make sure their data security is up to scratch, working with experts to make sure their IT system is secure and all staff are trained in cyber security to prevent accidental data breeches.

Open network WiFi should be reviewed, and replaced with a secure network that incorporates an encryption tool. You should also offer a guest WiFi that is segmented from your other WiFi networks. Guest devices should be restricted from communicating with other devices, so any lurking malware will not be able to hack into the system and other guest devices. Speak to an expert to help ensure your event and your chosen venue have up-to-scratch cyber security.

For all events, but particularly large-scale conferences or exhibitions, it is possible to purchase cyber insurance. This will help minimise the financial ramifications of any cyber-attack, ensuring you don’t lose revenue.

Security and safety should be considered

Yes, planning an incredible event guests will love is obviously the “fun” part of an event professional’s job. But event organisers must not overlook security. Check out our blog on event security for all you need to know about keeping your guests safe.

A heavy-handed approach to event security could have adverse effects, though, and end up making your guests feel anxious. Certainly for private parties, security professionals dressed in plain clothes could be the best option. They can mingle amongst guests and provide a greater level of security without causing alarm.

Keeping your guests safe includes elements such as food hygiene, following allergy regulations and ensuring you’re prepared for all weathers. You should also make sure staff are clued up on alcohol laws and legislations. Staff should never serve alcohol to someone who’s already had a few too many – and all staff should be trained to confidently ask for ID if needed. If you’re concerned about over-indulgence, provide drinks tokens for guests to try and limit how much can be consumed per person.

Event organisers will forget their troubles and get Appy

Apps are a great way for events to connect to their guests, particularly large-scale parties or conferences. Many event apps offer interactive maps to ensure guests can easily find their way around the venue. More advanced apps include event timetables and personalised schedules, allowing attendees to plan their days and refer back to their app.

According to Event Manager Blog, 68% of app developers say demand in the event app space is higher than it was last year. This is because print-outs, flyers and handouts are not only bad for the environment and not cost-effective, they are also inconvenient for guests. Event attendees would rather access everything in one place digitally than horde a forest-ful of paper in their tote bags.

Choosing the right venue will be key

Selecting a venue is the biggest challenge for event organisers. With the choice greater now than ever, event planners must correctly pair their event theme with the right venue.

Arthur Stepaniak, Tagvenue Co-founder and CEO, said: “One clear trend we have noticed is the use of quirky, unique and more offbeat venues that can accommodate a variety of themes and preferences. For example, a corporate event in a pub, a meeting in a cafe or a theatre hall, birthday party in a studio space, etc. People are increasingly looking for alternative and unusual venues and new formats. We believe this will continue in 2020 and with the help of online venue hire platforms such as Tagvenue, finding those hidden gems and comparing various venue types has never been easier.”

How to choose the right venue for your event

For corporate parties or fundraisers, an all-inclusive venue package could save stress and allow event organisers to focus on finer details such as décor or guest lists. Landmark venues such as historical buildings or sports venues offer unique and impressive spaces for events, but they can be quite an expensive option. Event organisers shouldn’t underestimate the value of working with experienced venues that regularly host events. Staff there will have event expertise and will be able to assist event planners in their mission to make the event run smoothly.

Ambitious event organisers who want to create a totally bespoke, unique experience could turn to unconventional spaces to host an event. Rooftops, disused warehouses and theatres are popular choices as it gives an organiser free rein to be creative. Planners’ workload will ramp up as a “blank canvas” venue requires every external element of the event to be organised. This includes catering, décor, seating plans, registration, security and much more.

Event insurance will be key

Of course, one thing you really need to remember in 2020 is your event insurance! As long as you know the risks involved in your event and don’t anticipate any major changes (such as a daredevil circus act or firework display) you can purchase event insurance well in advance of the date. For a competitive quote, fill out our quick online form, or contact the team if you’d like further advice.

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