What event trends should you be keeping an eye on next year? What new marketing or technology innovation will impact your job the most?
Do you already have a clear idea about the key event trends, opportunities and challenges that will affect your business?
If you’ve been scratching your head, even just a little, as you plan for next year and try to anticipate the continuing changes impacting events and those who work in them…you’re not alone! And don’t worry, you don’t have to call in the mystics to find the answers.
To help you out, and paint a picture of what’s in store for you and your events in 2015, we canvassed some of the most influential, well-connected and innovative people we could find across the industry.
We asked everyone the same question:
What one trend, challenge or opportunity are you predicting will impact the events industry most in 2015?
Want to know the future? Read on for their answers or download this free eBook!
Paul Colston, Editor in Chief, Mash Media (@conference_news)
Data analytics, better behavioural understanding of attendees, a shifting mindset to 365 communities, improved video streaming experiences, investments in better Wi-Fi, price hikes, expanding opportunities for growth and wearable technology will all impact event professionals in 2015…and that’s just some of the shorter-term shifts. (Note: You can read Paul’s full predictions for the future of the events industry here.)
Alistair Turner, Campaign Director, Britain for Events, and PR Director, Davies Tanner (@Britain4Events)
“For me it’s the evolution of event management companies into tech providers. Digital events are events that listen, and this is something event organisers are going to want to have control over.”
Marino Fresch, Head of Marketing UK & Ireland, Eventbrite (@mfresch)
“A recent study into the habits of Millenials shows that those in their 20s and 30s care more about experiences than material possessions. This shift to an ‘experience economy’ should provide plenty of growth opportunities, and a fantastic backdrop for innovative companies to cater to a growing demand from a demographic with considerable disposable income.”
Alon Alroy, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing and BizDev, Bizzabo (@bizzabo)
“There has been a rise of event technology and tools in the past few years that have really helped event professionals get the most out of their events and improve the overall experience for attendees.
We’re now at a stage in which event organizers are a bit overwhelmed by the number of different tools out there. The year ahead will call for (and are already calling for!) more integrated platforms in order to create an bigger event impact but with less resources and overhead.”
Juraj Holub, Content and Social Media Marketer, Sli.do (@slidoapp)
“The dynamic of events will keep on changing; from passive reception to active engagement. Attendees will become participants, as event organizers will continue providing audiences with event tech tools for active participation. As a result, the participants will be co-creating their own event experience.”
Anna Sawyer, Director of Product and Content Marketing, Guidebook (@Guidebook)
“Next year it’s all about budget and how to keep it in check. Guidebook published the first and only global event app industry report this year and the #1 concern planners have is budget. “The cost of everything is up,” said one of hundreds who cited this. And I’ve just got to say it… we also found that across the board, an event app is less than half the cost of printing paper programs – which are also wasteful and impossible to revise.”
Richard Green, CEO & Founder, Evvnt (@Evvnt)
“I’m seeing a huge growth in events discovery via mobile and I’m looking forward to seeing what emerging technology such as wearable tech brings to the events industry.
I’m also predicting more people attending events virtually and more people sharing their events experiences in more engaged ways.”
Sarah Michel, VP of Professional Connexity, Velvet Chainsaw (@sarahmichel)
“I recently recorded this short video about “Planned Serendipity” which I think has the potential to be one of the biggest disruptors in the meetings industry in 2015.
Meetings that can get in front of this and intentionally plan for serendipitous connections for their attendees will see huge rewards in loyalty and growth.“
Mark Walker, Content Marketing & Social Media Manager, Eventbrite (@jfdimark)
“The event industry is continuing to undergo unprecedented change, so I think a major trend for event organisers next year will be the search for simplicity in a complex world.
With so many marketing channels, tools and demands on their time, organisers will choose to work with the brands and suppliers that make their lives easier by offering best-of-breed technology, a user-friendly interface and self-service control over all the key features they need to succeed”
“2015 is going to bring challenges around data for events. As event organizers, we have a massive amount of data at our fingertips, but most planners are overwhelmed by it all. In 2015, we’re going to figure out how to collect smart data, analyze it and protect it. Big challenges, but it will mean great things for the future of our industry”
Pedro Coutinho, Co-Founder, Meethub (@meethubapp)
“According to studies the “Quality of Networking” is and will be the biggest factor that encourage delegates to attend events.
Many organisers are not doing anything to provide this and need to guarantee people meet face-to-face to generate potential business leads that can bring the best ROI to participants. Serendipity is not very effective and more and more organisers are specifically paid to offer activities with one-to-one meetings.”
Ricardo Molina, Founder / Director, BrightBull (@brightbull)
“I see a big challenge: The current skillset of an event marketer.
It has become very apparent that knowing how to market an event is not, and will not be sufficient for event marketers. In addition to copywriting skills and understanding data to a high degree of detail.
Those that want to excel will need to have a strong grasp of CRM systems, and Marketing Automation systems and learning how these work and integrate.”
Jackson Clark, Owner, Patch Media (@PatchMedia)
“2015 will see more capital cities and regions position themselves as knowledge hubs for specific sectors. This positioning is driven by understanding the growth sectors in the global economy and ensuring the right infrastructure, facilities and support are in place, not just to host world class events, but for businesses and talent in these sectors to reside there.
Sydney is a great example. It’s profiling its key strengths to the professional and financial services, technology, medical research and education sectors. CAT publications is doing some fascinating reports and research into this so it’s definitely a trend to keep an eye on for next year.“
Caroline Carr, Marketing, WIRED Events Portfolio, WIRED (@wiredUK)
“The challenge I see taking precedence in 2015 in the events industry is the need for more content marketing within our campaigns. I think marketeers will need to be focussed on 3 key things – how to create better content, how to share greater content and how to better engage with their audiences through this content.”
Mark Breen, Co-Founder, Cuckoo Events (@mark_breen)
“Clients are more engaged now. They’re asking more questions, particularly in relation to the qualifications & experience of event staff. I see even more focus on this in 2015 & beyond.”
Lorna Bladen, Head of Events, Enterprise Nation (@lornabladen)
The increasing availability of pop-up space is a fantastic opportunity for start-ups in 2015 to get high-street presence to showcase their brands, run engaging events, get immediate customer feedback, and sell their products or services.
Edward Poland, Co-Founder, Hire Space (@HireSpace)
“The rapid growth of event industry websites, blogs and social media means that event bookers are better informed than ever. They have more choice, better access to supplier inventories and abundant curated feedback to inform them. As such, they take decisions more confidently.
This means two things.
Firstly, traditional events agencies need to stay ahead of the game. This means offering a service which goes beyond familiarity with the industry and its providers. Innovative thinking and bespoke solutions will be key to staying relevant.
Secondly, venues need to think beyond traditional marketing channels and contribute to conversations online. If agencies stop providing leads, they’ll need another source of business to survive. Venues are already engaging with social media platforms at a faster rate than ever before – expect this trend to continue in 2015, and a new industry to emerge to support it.”
Tamar Beck, CEO, GleanIn (@GleanIn)
“I think 2015 will be the year that the events’ industry begin to embrace “social” – events ARE social as they bring like minded people together. It makes perfect sense that the industry will start to utilise social technology to leverage social connections and networks to create value for all, pre-, during and post-event.”
Samuel Jonas, Director, Torwel Enterprises
“I feel the biggest challenge and opportunity is showcasing our services through all the noise! By this I mean with so much info & clutter these days how does one seperate from the masses? Those who can answer that question will be successful in driving business growth in 2015.”
Vicki Funk, Senior Account Director, SEI Meetings & Incentives (@SEI_Incentives)
“Social media comes to mind…#hashtag the event, share photos/videos, reach the masses that did not qualify for the convention so they will qualify for the next one…”
Caroline Windsor, Account Director, TFI Meeting Point (@TFIGroup)
“My preoccupation is still about finding sustainable business models that work for our association clients and for us as their PCO.
Discussions about risk/reward strategies, ensuring the right skills are in place to manage a congress with a bigger turnover than many SMEs, obtaining detailed historical information about a congress to inform a realistic feasibility study and budget, adding value to our PCO service by developing better skills in revenue generation and financial management – these are all helping us to move in a positive direction but many clients do not want to pay professional fees relating to the time and skill expended on their behalf in the same way they would pay a lawyer or accountant. So we still have a way to go in addressing this gap. “
Nicole Leida, Head of Events, Academic Department, The Royal Society of Medicine (@RoySocMed)
“This isn’t a prediction about the event industry as a whole – every field is so specific in its own right and marks are very different depending on target audience, clients etc. – but focusing on our challenges, I would say they are:
- Content relevance to target audience and ensuring it addresses their educational needs and it is in line with NHS/NICE guidelines as applicable. Health professionals have been facing a lot of cuts lately and they won’t attend a conference unless it is absolutely spot on for their professional development needs
- CPD accreditation. As an awarding body for CPD in the medical field, it is vital our quality assurance processes are very thorough. Colleges are challenging doctors during appraisals more than ever before ,and more often than not we are required to provide evidence of CPD applications/content/attendance to justify their credits
- We also have a challenge related to viability of conferences that might be of educational value but an absolute no-goer on a business level. As a charity, we do subsidy a lot of the activities that we run but sometimes it is difficult to communicate to our committee members (and members in general) that we cannot just run any meeting they think of, otherwise we would no longer exist as a business! Yes, we are a charity but we are a business as well so we have to be mindful of what investments we make.”
And, here are some of the best comments from LinkedIn contributors:
Hellen (Golden) Beveridge, Director, Pure Rocket Science (@purercktscience)
“From an event marketing perspective I think that there will continue to be a strong move away from ‘impressions’ generation to more intelligent audience engagement.
There are also signs in the consumer market of the events industry getting much better at building sustainable brands.”
Stephanie May, CEO, 97 Implement
“My expertise is more with business educational and training events – but I’m finding the biggest challenges with these events are that people are tired of traveling and attending the same old, same old. Attendees are demanding fresh and unique perspectives, increased expectations with deliverables, and more interactive training that will accelerate their results.”
Brian Slawin, Co-Founder and President of BusyEvent Mobile (@busyevent)
Using technology will continue to greatly enhance four very important aspects of events in 2015:
1) The shiny-object, ‘feature for feature drag race’, is over. It’s now mandatory that event tech has a core of features that help make events more engaging. And of course, that includes data security and personal privacy controls that assures information is only available to those who should have access to it.
2) As we’ve moved from paper to digital we will continue to see event apps become more of an event chaperon and escort rather than an inexpensive replacement for paper. The outflow of this is the tremendous amount of data and event intelligence that can be used to help move from measurement to money (see #4)
3) As event producers continue to look for ways to use technology without having to be tech experts, tactical support and assistance from providers will become more and more important and finally…
4) Event producers will continue looking for clear and concise ways to generate profitability for their events, while at the same time creating true value for all attendees, exhibitors and other participants. Event technology can no longer be a cost but will have to become a profit center for events.”
Chris Pleydell, Live Events Producer for The Northern & Shell Group
“Due to the high tech nature of our industry I predict smaller meetings, less technology including limiting persons attending an event to their contacted World via personal devices. The goal has always been to engage but today we also have to get audiences to disconnect so their minds are freed from distractions giving any event impact. My trend for 2015-16 is the tech detox meeting.”
Tatsiana Saniuk, Marketing Analyst, Sutter Health CPMC/ West Bay Region (@tater_tatt)
“Aside from Oracle, Dreamforce and other similar companies, I think the trend is towards smaller, more intimate gatherings, whether they are groups, events, or educational seminars. When you mass market, many of the attendees tag along without a purpose and you may not be able to turn them into good leads.
Why waste resources? By targeting the right market, no matter how small it is, the results can yield better outcomes. (In other words, the truth we knew long time ago: “It’s not the quantity, but quality that matters”).”
Su Fellabaum, Festival Coordinator, Rock The Island Festival (@rocktheisland15)
“In the festival industry we are seeing a desire for an “experience” rather than a big concert. Inclusion of hands on and interactive activities are very popular.”
Michael Wood, Senior Creative Director at GPJ
“One word: Personalization. People will continue to want/need to be engaged, recognized, educated and inspired in the means and ways that appeal to them. We have to know our audiences, and certainly not just on spreadsheets and reports, but in the real world. Go where they go. Do what they do. See what they see.”
Sonia Molina, Co-Founder & Head of Marketing, BrightBull (@BrightBull)
“Trend: Nurturing and developing communities
Opportunities: Content in the many ways shapes and forms it can take & Systems Integrations (automation + CRM)
Challenges: Marketing Department Skills; Narrow mindedness of SOME event leaders wanting to “Get a lot of delegates quick” & squeezing their teams for it; Publishers & Media Cos wising up on their event offering
Got all the way to the bottom? Well done! Why not celebrate your impressive endurance and share your prediction(s) for 2015 in the comments!