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.