Beyond 2018 corporate event production trends, what’s emerging in the event planning space this year?

There’s an exciting new world of opportunities for more engaging and productive outcomes opening up for the modern event planner. Industry professionals producing tomorrow’s spectacular corporate events will use new tools to build on successful past planning strategies—elevating future events to a new level of value for their clients.

Major new resources available to 2019 event planners include big data and emerging digital technologies. For corporate employers, you can use these tools to help better understand what works best for engaging your employees.

Here are some of the most exciting emerging trends in corporate event production going into 2019. Incorporating these new entertainment and information technologies is the new state-of-the-art in the ever-evolving event production industry.

1. VR and AR Technologies

Nothing is more engaging than being transported into a new reality. A little headgear, an olfactory device and some gloves are all you need to generate an unforgettable multi-sensory VR experience. Or, use more minimal augmented reality tools to immerse users in an enhanced experience of the real world around them. Even basic smartphone tools can be employed to produce AR digital effects that users can interact with through their own screens.

  • Virtual Travel — Create virtual journeys for event attendees. Event planners can take them to the location of your client’s big development project, or to witness, firsthand, their social impact or academic research work being done in a distant area.
  • Virtual Facility Tour — Arrange for your clients to invite event attendees for a walk through their flagship facility, or through a workspace where their most interesting and exciting work is being done.
  • Virtual Attendance — Afford invited guests the opportunity to attend their annual conference or convention remotely. Provide them real experiential engagement with your event, but with the convenience and comfort of being at their corporate conference while relaxing in their own home or continuing their work at the office.
  • Decorations — Use augmented reality to create engaging and unique virtual decorations to upgrade the grandeur of the event experience. With AR, even your imaged displays create event decorations that are beyond former possibilities for dazzling and astounding your attendees.

Above all, make sure you tell a compelling story through AR/VR.

2. AI Integration

AI goes beyond engaging your event attendees. It doesn’t merely occupy their attention; it enhances their overall experience by solving problems that have not been possible to eliminate so seamlessly in the past. For some examples:

  • Improved Event Connectivity — In 2019 and beyond people will expect to have their needs met for easily connecting to your content via one or another high-tech event planning mechanism.
  • Whole Teams of Virtual Helpers — Chatbots are also becoming the modern event planner’s right hand virtual helper. These chatty bots can handle a variety of basic communications that makes the attendees (and your stage-hand’s) lives a little easier. They can guide your website visitors through many processes and transactions, gather information and transfer calls, and can even follow up on customer services.
  • Real-Time Language Translation Tools — Give international attendees an easy translation resource, through their phones’ audio, freeing them to fully focus on and enjoy the event speaker’s message in real-time.

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3. Biometrics

Biometric technologies are straight out of the future.

Emerging tech can analyze biological data from people and send that data to Artificial Intelligence platforms which then serve highly-specific experiences.

This tech will revolutionize arrival stages with facial recognition check-ins, give producers more insights into attendee-tracking and could even utilize biological and emotional data gathered by smartphones or wearable devices.

A veritable new biometric data ecosystem will open routes to customer information that go far beyond the level of granularity that we are able to extract from consumer data today. This will empower event planners with untold opportunities for offering new services that are of higher value to attendees, making events more personalized and meaningful for them. Biometrics can be used in events for:

  • Facial Recognition — AI technology can be used to expedite check-in for attendees, preventing data entry errors, systems errors, and typical buildup of waiting lines.
  • Wearable Technology — Instead of ugly, old-fashioned name badges, more fun and interesting biometric identifiers will soon find their way into far more prominent use. LED bracelets are a perfect example of this. In the coming years,
  • Attendee Tracking — Event planning strategies of the near future may informed by insights such as attendees’ pulse rates, brain activity, eye tracking, facial analysis, skin conductivity, and even electromyography. All of these biometrics taken together can provide a quality of psychological and emotional profile that will allow event planning strategists to track the fine perceptions of attendee experience throughout events in real time.

4. Intriguing Locations

There has been an upswing in selections of unusual and creative venues for corporate and other major events over recent years. This trend is predicted to continue through 2019.

From pop-up events in company parking lots, to river-boat lunch meetings, to transforming a wide variety of unlikely spaces will add enormous experiential value to events.

Choosing non-standard venues has proven to increase attendee engagement. So, focus is increasingly on creating the most interactive and memorable meeting and event experiences available through location choice.

Through the upcoming event planning periods, unconventional venues for events will build excitement and curiosity, motivate attendees, and produce unforgettable event experiences that will live in attendee’s and your clients’ memories for years to come. Those outcomes will, of course, realize significant ROI for bold event planners, if budgets are managed appropriately.

5. Attendee Engagement Tracking

Live events help convert attendees into advocates for your clients’ brands. They also provide important intelligence gathering opportunities for your clients, your event marketer, and your firm’s entire event planning team. Recruiting, discovery of key industry trends, thought leadership building, among other central corporate objectives are all facilitated through events.

You need actionable information to enable follow-up with your event attendees. Without sufficient data, you’re coming up short in one of the most productive event areas.

A few of the key event metrics you should be tracking for your attendees at the next event you produce include: total qualified leads, brand awareness increase, and perception change, among others. A few timeless, proven low-tech methods for simultaneously creating attendee engagement opportunities and data gathering include:

  • Phone Outreach — Reach out to attendees by phone, email or personal handwritten notes. Such low-tech approaches can make the greatest personal impression on people.
  • Personalization — Find small ways to customize the event experience for each attendee. Personalizing helps a brand stand out.
  • Sharing — Share quotes about the event experience with your client’s target audience. Shared experience is the most relatable in marketing events or any other offering.

6. Integration of Online and In-Person Experience

Social media has already become a standard element of meetings and special events. Now, the focus will advance to creating increasingly engaging experiences in tandem with substantial social media campaigns. The goal will be to direct creative efforts to developing opportunities that lend to taking photos and real-time sharing.

It’s no longer sufficient to just offer the obligatory step-and-repeat banner. Facilitating fun and shareable attendee moments is the mark of successful social integration into an event.

Utilize some strategic event planning to pinpoint moments that are most sharable, and then do some marketing to create buzz. Tag it, hashtag it, promote it on YouTube, and pull out other stops in your drive to appeal to influencers and micro-influencers in the industry who can further promote your campaign.

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7. Demand for Unique Speakers and Messages

Today’s attendees are busy, and they’re not inspired by events featuring a sales pitch or redundant messages. People want to attend value-packed experiences that can only be provided by speakers sharing meaningful, highly relevant stories and insights.

Corporate event attendees know what they want, and getting them to steer away from that is difficult. You’ve got to truly make the message worth their while if you want them to meet you halfway.

Successful event planners will source talent closely aligned with the attendee preference. In 2019, that means a new face who introduces bold ideas and truly challenges conventional wisdom.

Planning Events for 2019

To maximize your return on these event production trends, evaluate your successes and really zero-in on your failures to identify and learn from your 2018 track record. Also, examine competitor case studies and comb your own available data as much as possible.

Use these to help you highlight strengths and weaknesses of past performance and streamline future strategies by casting off past superfluous, profit-gobbling concepts and align your resource allocations with new trends that promise fresh outcomes.

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