As the year is drawing to a close we reflect about what has shaped the event industry in 2014 – and even dare to predict some of the key trends for 2015. Despite the crucial role of technology, we must never forget about the real value the meetings and events industry presents: Bringing people together and enabling social interaction. Even with the increased use of new devices and technologies at events, people still are the most important asset to the industry. If you look at them closely, the following 5 trends revolve around one central thing – the human being.
1. Content, Content, Content. Feed attendees’ hunger for knowledge and keep the event buzz alive in the digital world: Offering digital content is a wonderful way to magnify the effect of content generated at an exhibition, for example at education programs and sessions. Provided through the right channels in the right way, engaging content generates an added value for event participants and strengthens the educational character of your event. With the massive amount of information available especially in the digital world, content creators must focus on easy-to-grasp content (“snackable”) and take short attention spans into account.
2. Innovative Event Formats. Audience engagement was a widely discussed topic this year and it is true that events have changed significantly by focusing more on attendees. As “attendees” transition into “participants”, it is important that audiences have the ability to participate more deeply with events. Barcamps and other interactive meeting formats have been used for quite some time now and opened up a lot of space for creativity and informal knowledge sharing. The event content type and format influence each other and need to be optimized for specific target groups. Technology offerings (RFID usage, apps, interactive show guides, etc.) should fit the type of audience, especially with regards to demographic characteristics.
3. Millennials & Generation Y. A new generation enriches the industry with different expectations and experiences: The so-called “Generation Y” often has a firmer grasp of technology. They also question a lot of the values in a business’ environment. Event organizers need to adapt their offerings and take into account that "Millenials" have grown up with technology and therefore take it for granted. A study conducted by Amsterdam RAI in 2013 which compared Generation X to Generation Y gave an outlook on the behavior of future exhibition visitors' and revealed that they will mostly be looking for a real "experience", personalized offerings and that they want to be an active part of the event. For HR professionals in the industry, Generation Y will have a significant impact on their recruiting strategies as they have different motivations and expectations on their working environment, for example in respect to work-life-balance.
4. Technology Trends. While everyone has been busy collecting data and understanding the “Big Data” picture in the recent past, now’s the time to analyze. According to meeting & IT expert Corbin Ball analytics tools, especially with regards to mobile apps, will be fundamental for organizations looking at leveraging data into opportunity. Furthermore, it is foreseeable that bluetooth technology and iBeacons in specific will continue playing an important role for events and exhibitions as they can add a great value to the event experience itself. With gamification elements, indoor navigation tools and targeted marketing activities, these technologies can add to an overall personalized event experience and deliver a significant added value to attendees.
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5. Social Media & Events. Closely connected with strategic content marketing, social media plays an important role in event marketing success. It can be of great help when it comes to reaching and engaging specific audiences and communicating about event activities and topics throughout the year. With relevant content being produced and spread over social media before and after an event, the perceived value of a specific meeting or show is much higher for attendees. The EventManagerBlog recently published a great guide with tips for event professionals on how to use social media for events.