2018 Event Trends: Predictions from 21 Event Experts
Event wisdom comes in many forms. Learn about the trends that will dominate the event space in 2018 from experienced industry professionals.
Now that 2018 has arrived, new trends and changes in the the event industry are already rumbling underfoot. Preparing for these changes early on in the year will be a key factor for developing a successful event strategy. And what better way to kick off the new year than with event trend predictions from a group of event experts?
We asked 21 event professionals one question:
What will be the biggest event trend in 2018?
Our respondents covered a wide range of topics, offering insights into how the industry will continue to evolve. Some event trend predictions were in long form while others got straight to the point. All in all, these answers will help you better prepare for the changes that are to come.
Some of the topics that were mentioned include:
- Partnership Event Marketing
- Event Design
- Virtual and Augmented Reality
- Artificial Intelligence
- Data Security
- Event Personalization
For even more in-depth analysis of industry trends, click the image below to download a free copy of the 2018 Event Trends Ebook. You’ll deep dive into topics and ideas that will better equip you to take the event industry by storm in 2018.
Liz King, CEO, Techsytalk
2018 is going to have a huge focus on artificial intelligence - planners will be learning more about how to use the data they collect to better engage their attendees, speakers and sponsors.
"Through the use of AI, event planners will be able to create a more personalized experience and reach their audiences in more meaningful ways."
This will transform the event experience and help drive more perceived value to the role that events play in overall marketing strategies.
Gaetano DiNardi, Director of Marketing, Sales Hacker
Events are popping out of the woodwork like we've never seen before. To say the market is crowded would be an understatement.
"I predict we will see more partnerships and major brand collaborations to put on co-hosted events / conferences."
The consolidation of co-branded efforts alleviates marketing workload and lowers overhead / risk / costs of operation. I would also add that big name speakers and "influencers" are becoming less relevant. 99% of them won't promote anyway, and they're usually expensive to book. Audiences want good tactical content, and topics that align to their needs. They'd rather see an actionable deck from a presenter with high energy, ideally from a well known company from their industry.
Anne-Marie Rossiter, Director of Marketing, HeadBox
With the release of the iPhone X, we predict a greater emphasis on virtual and augmented reality in events as it becomes more widely used by consumers across the world. From aiding event planners in the conception phases of planning to increasing attendee engagement at the event itself, virtual and augmented reality are seeping into our daily lives.
"VR and AR are becoming part of everyday life for the millennial generation."
It's important that the event industry stays ahead of this curve, which is why we've launched HeadBox 3D, our 360* tour technology, which allows event planners to explore a venue in 360° view, to save time and money on non-fruitful site visits.
Nikita Johnson, Founder, RE.WORK
Artificial Intelligence software - chatbots and AI Assistants in particular - will allow event organizers in 2018 to automate customer questions to provide a quicker and more efficient service, and reduce customer service costs. Advanced chatbots will also provide a more personalized service for event attendees and increase user engagement.
Bianca Bujan, Marketing Consultant, TapSnap
Experiential marketing is becoming a bigger priority for companies, bringing brands to life, and allowing consumers to see, touch, interact with and create an emotional bond with a product or service. Photo booths are emerging as an experiential marketing solution for brands through creating customized and interactive activations that entertain event guests while acting as a platform for new sponsorship opportunities.
Customized branding and event-specific photo booth backdrops, animations, and photo-sharing campaigns are delivering a high ROI for event professionals looking to offer something fun and unique that will entertain guests and drive results for their business.
Dan Berger, Founder and CEO, Social Tables
Industry suppliers are going to go all-in on tech investments that will help them prepare for a potential industry downturn. The past few years have been a seller’s market. That will continue in ’18, but who knows how long it will last. Riding out a few great years in terms of group business with record high KPIs, suppliers are feeling confident, but they will hedge their bets by purchasing new and exciting sales solutions that will strengthen their moat.
Lloyed Lobo, Co-founder, Traction Conference
VR from an audience experience perspective will be huge. We had VR booths at our conference this year which was a huge hit. We'll be doubling down on this.
"I think conferences will start using AI to improve networking opportunities between attendees."
I also see an increase in use of Chat Bots to serve up conference information in real time i.e. address questions participants have at any given point.
Juraj Holub, Marketing Director, Slido
Given that $37 billion is wasted on ineffective meetings, our prediction is that meeting design will continue to be one of the key drivers across industries in 2018 and beyond. We believe that the ability to design and facilitate an effective meeting will become a critical skill for any business leader.
At Slido, we always look at our meetings, be it anything from a team stand up or a user conference, through the meeting design spectacles. For instance at our all-hands meetings, we have a moderated Ask Me Anything session with our CEO and we even have a dedicated moderator for our online participants. With interaction at the center of our thinking, we continuously experiment to organize events that our team members and clients love.
Ciera Jones, Events Coordinator, The Gathering
Conferences will start using AI to improve networking opportunities between attendees. There will also likely be an increase in the use of Chatbots to serve up conference information in real time i.e. address questions participants have at any given point.
Josie Scotchmer, UK Marketing Manager, Mailjet
Events are no longer just about pitching your sales story to potential customer. You must also add value to the event audience. This might be by providing educational and thought leading content on the event stage or by adding value to the event attendees in a different way.
"Providing actual value to the attendee will be a crucial success factor."
Some of the ways we’ve experimented with at Mailjet are by having stand activities that add value. We’ve tested headshot photographers so that delegates can get a new LinkedIn picture at an event and even administered GDPR quizzes to test marketers on their understanding of the latest data protection regulation. At Mailjet, we’ll continue testing different tactics to ensure we are adding value in the best possible way.
Corbin Ball, Founder, Corbin Ball Associates
Increasing data and privacy protection will be needed. The recent data breaches of Equifax, Sony, the DMC and international ransomware attacks point to increased and more sophisticated hacking activity. Hackers will almost inevitably target some events via an online registration system and/or a mobile event-related app (likely an Android version) in the near future.
"As a planner, make sure your registration company is PCI compliant and take other steps to guard attendee information captured."
Also, be aware of the coming GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) a sweeping set of privacy regulations that will affect any event with European attendees or members regardless of where the event takes place.
"Organizers will create a more personal event experience."
Cathy McPhillips, VP of Marketing, Content Marketing Institute
I hope that the events industry continues to push for more sustainability. Fortunately, at UBM, Content Marketing World’s parent company, this is a huge initiative for us.
"Event attendees are going to be attracted to conferences and events that put extra care into sustainability and think about environmental and social issues."
This includes using water jugs rather than thousands of disposable plastic water bottles, printing signage that can be used year over year, donating leftover food to charities, giving extra supplies left by exhibitors to local organizations, and even suggesting that sponsors use printers local to the event location to save on shipping.
Lelde Dalmane, Marketing Content Manager, Catchbox
I believe that technology will be the trend that will take off (even more than now) in 2018. Since everything is all about the audience, I think that events will become more interactive than ever and tools to gather audience response will have their time to shine.
Nick Borelli, President, Borelli Strategies
Influencer marketing will become more of a mainstream practice for event producers in 2018. As event marketers settle on metrics and reasonable (i.e. longer) length of contracts between event and influential personal brands, deeper trust will breed increased conversions. What has been the status quo for industries like fashion and beauty, influencer marketing will humanize the core messaging of attendance while helping break into groups who aren’t as accessible through traditional marketing strategies.
Payman Taei, Founder, Visme
Given the mania around Bitcoin, Ether, and Altcoins, 2018 will be filled with an uptake of cryptography topics, whether or not the bubble actually bursts. And although there is no relation with Visme and Cryptography, we do anticipate utilizing this trending topic to improve our reach using data visualization and infographics as a means to simplify the understanding of complex data and translating them into snackable content.
Trey Smith, VP of Events, Human Capital Media
Artificial Intelligence and leveraging the capabilities of this technology is something I foresee will make a big impact in 2018 and beyond. We’re already seeing this with a number of the chatbots that are popping everywhere to handle lead nurturing and customer service inquiries, among others.
"Leveraging AI-powered chatbots can free up hours of a planner’s time by delegating repetitive and monotonous tasks to the bot."
Looking forward, advanced AI will allow us to create more personalized content for attendees and deliver sponsor advertisements in new and unique ways at just the right time.
Allison Lucey, Senior Managing Director of Events, Teach For America
An important trend that we are focused on is “head up technology” to ensure people are engaged at the event, but also compelled to share their experience digitally . To do this, it’s crucial that we use digital engagement as an enhancement to the in-person experience, but not as the focus of the event itself.
"When customizing our in-person event experiences we look to ensure that the engagement on the ground is meaningful and relevant to our audience, but also compelling enough for them to share on their social channels."
We do this through the creation of interactive elements that do not incorporate any technology but force attendees to interact with the installation and with one another. These engagements are always crafted with the digital share in mind, ensuring that the end result is a photo or post that reaches the social or professional circles of our attendees to further generate interest or engagement with our organization.
Liron David, Founder, Eventique
The biggest and most exciting trend I'm anticipating this year is utilizing art in creating storylines. The convergence of art, technology, and space is what’s making experiential events more engaging than just throwing a brand name on anything in sight — today’s consumer won’t go for it, and they certainly won't share it.
"Social media is predominantly visual, and when a brand invests in a meaningful artistic component, it resonates because the art seems to eclipse the product."
It will be interesting to see how credible artists and brands interact on commissioned work in the future, as both parties give each other more leeway.
Asia Carr, Coordinator, Global Marketing Solutions, Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment
More than ever before, there are a plethora of activities for people to do and ways for people to spend their time and monies.
"In 2018, millennials especially, will want to feel like each experience is special."
This means that we will likely see a trend of brands spending majority of their event efforts finding alternative solutions to amplify personal experiences for the masses. Essentially meaning, that they will have to find unique approaches to get to know their audiences, so that they can feel like their time was spent on an experiential journey that was made personally for them. Making it one of a kind.
Will Curran, Founder, Endless Events
For trends as a whole, this is going to be the no short-cut year. People were looking for growth hacks. We’re getting to the point where hacks and doing things easily just isn't working anymore because everyone is doing the same thing.
"Now, you have to take the long road and really put hard-work into every aspect of your events if you want them to be successful."
Take for instance live streaming. Today, anyone can live stream a presentation on their phone. But if you want to engage your virtual audiences and stand-out from the competition your live stream is going to need to be very well put together.
If you want to grab the attention of people, if you want to promote your event, if you want to delight people at your event—you need to take the time to do it well.
Wrapping Up: Your 2018 Event Trend
From new approaches to new technologies, there are a lot of new innovations for event professionals be excited for in the coming years, and the timing couldn't be better.
According to the Event Success Formula, the most successful organizations plan to increase the amount that they invest in events in the coming years. They also plan on increasing their investment in event technology.
Whether it's robots, increased personalization, better storytelling or something completely different—what 2018 event trend are you most excited for?
Want to learn more about the biggest 2018 event trends in the industry? Watch the below video and download the 2018 Event Trends eBook.