Event Trends to Expect in 2019

It’s easy to predict visual trends you’ll being seeing at events this year like mirrors used as décor elements in outdoor spaces, doughnut walls and towers to replace traditional dessert displays, and food stations instead of 5-course meals. Those are all things that are going to make your event look gorgeous and will provide your guests with a fun experience, but the trends you’ll be seeing more of this year that we want to highlight are ones focused on authenticity, engagement, and focused interactions.  

Authenticity is a trend we’ve been seeing a lot of on social media, and this year it’s going to spill over into events. People are becoming less inspired by those whose lives seem picture perfect, and more inspired by people who open up about the struggles they’ve experienced that got them to where they are today. If you’re hosting a conference, instead of having it all take place in the same room, choose a venue that also has smaller spaces available for you to host guided breakout sessions. Your attendees can gather in the main room for opening remarks, the keynote speaker, and closing remarks, but the breakout sessions will serve as a great opportunity for the session leader(s) to speak more openly about their experiences and other topics related to the theme of the conference. Because it is a smaller group, attendees will also feel more comfortable to speak up and offer their own experiences, ideas, or overall feedback.

Engagement and hands-on experiences are things you’ll be seeing a lot more of this year, and they should be key components of your agenda. As inspiring as a guest speaker can be, attention spans are relatively short and long-winded speeches become hard for your guests to sit through whether it’s at a conference or a fundraiser. Instead of focusing on one speaker to hold everyone’s attention, consider putting a panel together of three or more people with different personalities and experiences to bring to the table. Watching and listening to a conversation between panelists is easier to hold your audience’s attention as the different personalities, opinions, tones of voice, and mannerisms will keep them on their toes and more interested in the topic. And of course, to make your audience part of the experience, make it a more open forum where they can ask questions to each of the panelists – another way to keep other audience members awake and alert.

Ancillary events are planned in support of and in conjunction with the main event you’re hosting, and are created to give your guests another opportunity to connect. Again, more focused interactions is something we’re going to be seeing a lot of in 2019, and you’re definitely going to want to jump on the bandwagon so you’re providing the best guest experience possible. If you’re hosting a multi-day conference, examples of ancillary events are welcome galas to gather attendees before the conference officially starts, evening outings at a lounge or restaurant for more casual interactions, or a goodbye brunch to provide one last opportunity for attendees to connect before everyone goes their separate ways. 

Authenticity, engagement, and focused interactions. Those are the three main trends we’ll be seeing this year and ones you want to start implementing for your next event. If you’re still stuck on how to hone in on and elevate your guest experience, leave us your questions in the comment box and we’ll give you a few extra tips tailored to the needs of your event. 

Getting Techy with Your Event

Now is a good a time as any for hosting events like conferences, galas, and panels. With technology right at your fingertips, there are so many accessible ways to elevate your guest experience and really take your event to the next level. 

One tech piece to include even before your event takes place is an app or software that allows you to create a digital floor plan for your venue. Social Tables is a program that allows you to customize the dimensions of your event space and even the type of flooring it has whether it’s carpet or hardwood floors. With it’s simple drag-and-drop feature, you place a number of different things on your floor plan from different styles of tables and chairs, staging, A/V equipment, and even smaller details like plants and other décor elements. Creating detailed floor plans is one of the many things Social Tables has to offer. It can be used as a one-stop-shop for things like finding the right venue, creating seating arrangements, calculating how much food you need to order per guest – you name it! 

Eventbrite is a great online tool that allows you to outline the details of your event, share them with potential guests, and have them RSVP or purchase tickets right within the site. In addition to making it easy for guests to find information on your event and purchase tickets, Eventbrite offers a streamlined check-in and registration process that comes in handy for ensuring the line is moving along quickly when guests show up at your event. Standing in line for a long time to get into your venue can put a damper on the guest experience right from the get-go. But with Eventbrite, guests who purchase tickets or RSVP are immediately sent an email with an e-ticket they can print or keep in their email to present at the door. They can also store their e-ticket in the Wallet app on their iPhone for easy access. Guests are also sent a QR code that can be quickly scanned by the team managing your check-in table, upon arrival.  

If you’re hosting a conference, using something like a live Twitter stream to share information and bring attendees together can really add an extra layer of value to your event. Create a hashtag unique to your event and encourage attendees to use it while tweeting about sessions they’re attending, things they’ve learned, or questions they might have for your team or guest speakers. Use a platform like HootFeed to bring it all together in a live stream that can be displayed on a TV or projector screen on stage or in a common area of the venue. This is a great way to display conversations and get attendees involved in different discussions. 

Any event where you have a panel or guest speaker, making time for a Q&A session is key. To side step the pressure of trying to spot which audience member had their hand up first, try using a platform like Slido. With Slido you can create a link your audience can use to submit questions to the speaker(s). Other members of the audience can view questions as they’re submitted, and vote on their favourites. The questions with the most votes will then pop up on your TV or projector screen, and your speaker(s) can go down the list and answer as many questions as time allows.

It’s amazing how much can be done with the click of a few buttons. There are so many platforms available to you that are easy to use, affordable, and even free in most cases! There are lot of things to think about when you’re planning an event, but remember to keep your guest experience top of mind. We’ve given you a few resources to get you started, but find the time to do a little extra research to find the platforms that work best for you and the goals of your event.