Having devised cutting edge events for blue chip companies such as The Automobile Association (AA), Vodafone and IBM for over two decades, leading creative agency UKSV has its finger firmly on the pulse of the business event universe. Jeremy Shakerley, managing director of UKSV, takes a look at how 2019 is shaping up in terms of the latest and upcoming trends for business events and conferences. From taking delegates on a personalised journey, the maturation of AV, ethical events and more…
The pace of the events industry is fast, rapid and constantly moving. We’re now well into the Spring of 2019 and the year has truly started to take shape. Already here at UKSV, we have seen trends we predicted for 2019 come to fruition whilst a number of others are clear on the horizon, and bound to be a regular feature of many events and conferences we’ll attend later this year.
So, what does 2019 look like for business events and conferences? Below we’ve highlighted our top trends and predictions for the rest of this year. Some of these you may be familiar with, whilst others might seem a little left-field at the moment – but that’s the beauty of an ever-changing industry!
With technology making it ever easier to determine and cater to the wants and needs of individuals, we live in an age where personalisation is king – and that goes for corporate events and conferences too. 2018 saw the rise and rise of the personalised journey, from invitations with individualised content and links, to tailormade networking opportunities prior to and during events, and even personalised messages on media screens around the venue triggered by smart name badges.
Event apps are key for gathering delegate data prior to the event, which can then be used to create custom-built event agendas for each attendee. Large venues might have a lot on offer, so an app which can keep track of a guest’s personal schedule, make recommendations, help arrange meetings and access session resources serves to make it feel more personalised.
Put simply, in 2019 a one-sized fits all approach no longer cuts it; event organisers are working to make each and every delegate feel as though an event has been curated just for them.
Gone are the days of conspicuous consumption and showy events for their own sake – sustainability is the new watchword for many big brands, and clients are considering everything from carbon footprints to single use plastics.
Getting the location right is a really crucial consideration, from considering public transport links, or for a global event, how you can minimise airmiles. Clients are also interested in the green credentials of the venue itself. At a minimum they expect good waste recycling – including food waste – but more often we are also seeing the likes of locally sourced food, electric vehicles, hire bikes, green energy and a ban on bottled water on lists of requirements.
Consciously green and sustainable events are becoming commonplace. Some even incorporate sustainability into their break out zones with ‘energy seesaws’ or ‘energy bikes’ as a fun way to harness ‘people power’, allowing, for example, delegates to charge their devices through their own efforts.
And the drive for low-waste and low-consumption extends to goody bags too, the contents of which all too often make their way into the bin. So we are seeing charity donations replacing the usual speaker gifts, or even invitations to sponsor animals.
With augmented reality and virtual reality on the rise, in 2019 events are set to be more experiential and more immersive than ever. This technology is advancing fast and becoming ever more accessible, even for smaller lower-budget events. For example, 360º degree videos can be viewed on smart phones, either handheld or mounted on simple cardboard headsets. This ‘Virtual Reality lite’, as it has sometimes been termed, can provide a new way to demo a brand or product, or provide a tour of a production line, laboratory space, or even the event venue itself – handy not only for event planners scoping out possible locations, but for attendees seeking to familiarise themselves before arrival.
Virtual Reality (VR) technology could even pave the way for virtual events in the future, where the wider audience, or even the whole audience, could attend a session or a whole event, virtually from anywhere in the world.
Ever more creative applications are also being found for Augmented Reality (AR), which combines both computer generated elements and reality to create an augmented world, often via a smartphone. From scavenger hunt games, to ‘live’ art, to augmented reality photo booths, the possibilities are endless. Car brands for example, have used it to showcase new models, without the trouble and expense of having the physical cars on site. We expect this amazing technology to continue to be exploited by innovative event planners and clients throughout 2019 and beyond.
Gamification as a means to engage and incentivise was big in 2018 – and that trend is set to continue.
Event organisers have been quick to see the possibilities of adding game elements, whether that’s virtual badges or physical prizes for checking in at locations around the venue, a leader board for social shares, or competitive quizzes or challenges to help embed information.
Introducing a game element can not only encourage engagement and social interactions, it can help raise an event’s social media profile, and support that ultimate goal – creating an impactful and memorable experience.
We are seeing gamification at almost every step in an attendee’s experience, from checking in, to providing feedback, and it doesn’t even need to be a high-tech affair. It can be as simple as asking people to collect stamps on a card when visiting exhibitors around a venue.
However, we predict AV and AR, with their gaming roots, to become ever more significant in this space. The fact that you can almost guarantee that every attendee at any given event will have a smart phone in their pocket to allow them to access the virtual world makes it too good an opportunity to miss.
UKSV is a creative communications company based in Ringwood, Hampshire, bringing ideas and messages to life across live events, digital and brand management and development.