When a client commits budget to organising a corporate party or event, that budget is likely to be a significant amount. From the venue hire and catering to the event design, entertainment and the overall experience, they want to see value for their money at every level. Ultimately, they want to see that the event has had a positive impact on the morale, relationships and attitudes of those who attended. No pressure then.
Mike Walker is Managing Director of MGN Events, one of the UK’s leading corporate party planners. He has been designing and managing corporate events for national and international brands since 2008. Here are his predictions for what he thinks will be big in 2018.
Get the ‘why’ right and the rest will follow
Smarter thinking is the way forward. Even if a client says they simply want to throw a party, it’s important to take a strategic approach at the planning stage and to understand their business objectives – you may even have to help define them in some cases. Once clarified, use those objectives as the criteria for how the budget is spent – the focus, of course, has to be on attendee engagement.
No real surprise here – booking a hotel or conference centre is no longer enough. Making do with mediocre won’t excite anyone. The wow factor starts with the venue and an unusual setting immediately makes a statement and helps to create a fantastic experience. Expect to see even more non-traditional venues popping up – places that will create a real buzz across the event industry. Just like Airbnb has disrupted the hospitality market, we fully expect to see something similar happening in our industry. There are already whispers of exciting plans developing and 2018 will undoubtedly see some interesting developments.
Technology to enhance the experience
It’s an exciting time to be in the events industry. Advances in technology mean there are so many ‘toys’ to play with and use creatively within corporate parties. Used well, technology should enhance engagement at an event and help to create a truly immersive experience. Imagine a corporate event whereby different teams and people from regional or overseas offices come together. Handing out name badges and a glass of prosecco really isn’t going to get the party started. But you can use technology to encourage interaction between relative strangers – this very effective icebreaker encourages conversations and can also become part of the corporate messaging. Apps, gamification, RFID, virtual reality activities are all examples of technology which will have an increasingly bigger role to play over the next 12 months and beyond.
Turning a party into a memorable event
Providing an amazing experience that is memorable is an obvious ROI, but it can never be overstated. It’s all about taking care of every last detail to ensure that the party is on brand and the corporate messages are effectively conveyed. Attendees need to come away having had a brilliant time and in no doubt as to what it was all about and why they were there.
Food, glorious food!
As the backbone of any event, catering expectations are always high. The onus will be on caterers and event designers to continue to push creativity and develop exciting menus. Whether it’s edible cocktails that match the client’s corporate brand colours or creating inspiring food stations, catering will no longer be just a matter of taste. It will also become more integral to the event theme and food will help create a sense of theatre, leading to a more memorable experience and creating yet another talking point for attendees.
Content is key, but so is simplicity
In contrast to the advanced technology that surrounds an event, we see a paring back in terms of how content is displayed. The days of all-singing, all-dancing slide decks are numbered – perhaps due to waning attention spans – and there is a move towards simpler presentation. In 2018, less will be more. It will be all about getting the message across simply and directly. It is a party, after all, and people don’t want to have to analyse information in any great depth. Deliver the message in a way that is easily digestible and easy to recall the next day, the next week or even a month later.
Chatting with the chatbots
Expect chatbots to become a ‘must have’ element on event registration sites in 2018. Already in use on messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, the use of chatbots is growing as the technology becomes ever more sophisticated. We anticipate that they will start appearing on event websites with a view to entering into a dialogue with attendees and answering questions traditionally covered by FAQs. It’s only a matter of time before chatbots become the norm within the event industry. Watch this space.
MGN’s Artistic Director, Matthew Strange, always has a great sense of the next big thing and, when it comes to design, he has spotted a trend towards industrial themes. It’s a trend that’s apparent in some of the hottest venues around London – forget highly finished interiors and, instead, embrace concrete, steel and exposed structures that have a strange beauty all of their own. Complementing this will be colour palettes of greys and metallic, along with plenty of texture.
Small creatures will be big in 2018. We’re just saying.