No one can see into the future. We can, however, continuously gather feedback from the industry, try to analyze tendencies and forecast future event trends. If you look at recent discussions on social media, it becomes clear the events and exhibition industry is looking at ways to benefit from new technologies and engage the participants more than ever.
Many leading industry events offer workshops and sessions on future event trends and new technologies. The recent MPI European Meetings and Events Industry Conference (EMEC) 2014 is one of them. Always packed with useful educative sessions, EMEC is the kind of event you leave with a totally inspired mind.
One of this year’s sessions focused on the future of Europe’s events industry and presented some interesting trends and tools that event and meeting planners should consider for the near future. I picked up some of the event trends that I found particularly interesting and that I believe are shaping the future of the industry.
It has never been easier to collect data and at the same time it has never been more important to analyze it and leverage it into opportunity. The true potential value is not created through “mining” the data, but refining and crafting something out of it in successive, repeatable, and efficient steps.
Audience engagement and delegate involvement
By engaging attendees you can improve their event experience and start a conversation that goes way beyond the event. To me, this is one of the key trends for the whole events industry. I recommend having a look at Rob Hamlin’s blog post on “5 Rules of Event Engagement” to get an overview on this major trend.
It could be a quiz game or a challenge – the use of game concepts at conferences can be a good way to raise attendees’ interest and increase session attendance. This trend hasn’t been fully adopted by meeting planners yet, but there is a clear trend towards game-play usage in a business environment.
Also known as “Barcamp” or “Birds of a Feather Session” the “unconference” describes an attendee-driven event without a formal agenda or organization. The idea behind these open workshops is that the participants are all equal and anyone can join the conversation. Many professionals are skeptical about this concept because sometimes attendees have the feeling there are no clear results after a meeting.
A hybrid meeting contains a virtual component, so attendees can participate in the event through the internet, for example, by following a webcast or a video stream. While it certainly is an interesting concept, it can never fully replace the social networking taking place at a trade show or during the session breaks of a conference.
Naturally, these are only a few examples and there are many buzzwords we could add to the list. Jackie Mulligan, lecturer at Leeds Metropolitan University, who led the session at MPI EMEC, emphasized the fact that a lot of event trends counter each other because of the turbulent transitional time we’re in.