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10 Event Trends for 2013

By Julius Solaris

Every year Event Manager Blog publishes an overview of the most significant trends affecting events. Here is your report for 2013.

10 Event Trends for 2013

Update: The 2016 Version is live here

It is that time of the year. That time when everyone here at Event Manager Blog concentrates for long hours to deliver the 10 Event Trends presentation.

In 2010, I was amazed by the 30k viewers on Slideshare. In 2011, I was completely blown away to notice that more than 65,000 users enjoyed the presentation. 10 Event Trends for 2012 became the most viewed piece of content about event planning on Slideshare.

It is tough to beat that.

Thanks to our friends at Bizzabo who wanted to sponsor this year presentation, we are going to give it a good shot.

For the first time I am writing up in a blog post what each trend means. My MPI friends in Belgium, will have it presented to them on Jan 22nd at Be Conference.

Credit for the tremendous help to Carmen and to Beatrice Tagliaferri for bearing with my absurd design requests.

Here it is, if you want to know more about it, read the write up below.

A Note on Methodology

Trends backed up by data. As I mentioned in our Technology Infographic, I am not fond anymore of unsupported advice. Therefore I came up with a quite tight methodology to identify the trends for 2013.

It is important to understand that the presentation does not cover predictions. Yes there is a bit of gut feeling when writing about the future, but I like to think about this deck as a snapshot of what innovation is right now in the event industry.

I've reviewed about 300 startups to come up with this list. These trends sum up the most significant innovation that makes sense for planners and will inevitably make waves in 2013.

Some of these startups I've met at IMEX or EIBTM. The purpose this year is to not only acknowledge those that put up a nice looking website but also those who are on the field, talking to event professionals.

Why this technology? Some themes such as mobile apps or twitter walls have been left out not because they are not in demand but rather because they were trends already in the past. When you read about a trend on this blog, I want you to focus on something really new, unexpected. Something that pleases early adopters.

I've read event technology reports that propose unrealistic scenarios. I wanted to ground the presentation on tools you could use now, not in 10 years time. I believe there is no need to anticipate too much for an industry where even a proper website is often missing. Therefore no point in talking about holograms, augmented reality, etc.

Event Trends for 2013 Explained

10. Crowdfunding
We've covered the idea of group buying and crowdfunding of events very early on the blog. I've been surprised by the speed at which such services are popping up.

This is one of those ideas that makes everybody agree.

For the long tail of event lovers, those who plan events with friends and friends of friends, it just makes sense. Alas for those who have had an event idea in the back of their mind for quite a while, crowdfunding is a fantastic way to minimize the risk of venturing in an unknown market.

On top of that I can see crowdfunding as a viable option for medium sized events affected by the current economic crisis. When sponsors are tough to find, running traditional ticketing may not make sense.

9. Cities as Playgrounds
I've met two of the 3 services mentioned while at EIBTM.

I am fascinated by the concept of using our mobile devices to experience team building or incentives in a completely different way. These types of events represent the backbone of the industry and they starve for new concepts.

Using mobile interfaces to live adventures in the city is a hell of a great idea. DMCs and corporate event planners should really give it a go.

8. Crowdsourced Speakers
This is more of a hope than an actual trend. It has been a geek thing for a while. SXSW has been selecting some of their speakers this way for quite a while.

When I presented at EIBTM, I was a approached by lots of interested association planners who never heard of such concepts. I believe this is the year to properly use social networks and get our attendees to vote for our speakers.

I also featured a service that gives the power to the audience to control how long the speaker talks. As a speaker myself, I feel challenged but also motivated to be selected by my future audience. It makes so much sense.

7. Smart Dashboards
This is not the first time I feature dashboards in a Trends presentation. What I've noticed this year is that event professionals expect increasingly more from their dashboard. Just ticketing, just social media, just promotion are not enough anymore.

We require services that offer increasingly more. We are heading to what I like to call Event Enterprise Solutions (EES). Smart dashboards that offer ticketing, online and offline promotion, project management tools, a mobile app and a website. The death of event technology sylos.

Large events could never afford the fragmentation of multiple services, hence why platforms such as Cvent have been successful. Professionals running mid-sized events can now also benefit from more complete products at a reasonable price.

6. Eliminating the Middleman
I am a big fan of services such as Airbnb. Peer to peer marketplaces of services and goods. This new wave is defined as Collaborative Consumption, a concept that is quickly revolutionising several industries.

The event industry is getting its fair bit of innovation. I can't wait for more services that encourage horizontal selling of goods and services to pop up.

The platforms I featured are for venue finding and car sharing. Do check them out both as planners and attendees.

5. Event Reviews
If you read this blog, you know how much I love this concept. Reputation management will soon come to the event industry and it will be a similar blow to the one hoteliers experienced.

The services mentioned in the presentation give the opportunity to attendees to write their opinion about an event they attended.

Reviews play a prominent role in influencing the purchasing decision making process. Needless to say how important this could become for our industry,

4. Smart Badges
I've covered NFC and RFID before on the blog. This trend is not about the technology, which has been around for a while. Rather it covers an application of it.

Badges are often times a waste of paper and materials. The companies mentioned in the presentation are changing the way we use badges making them an active part of our event experience.

We can therefore like speakers on Facebook or check into specific event areas.

3. Photo Booths
Photo booths application and services are popping up all over the place.

With the popularity of services such as Instagram, the opportunities of streamlining pictures of an event all over the web are quite significant.

The integration between photo boots and smart badges is an even more powerful trend.

I've covered services that offer clever photo booths or kits to make your own. Pictures are becoming an important piece of your event content strategy, make sure you cater for those.

2. Curation and Display
Event professionals are now in charge to display a curated feed of the user generated media developed during the event.

It is not acceptable to present fragmented streams of pictures, tweets, videos and blog posts. If your audience is tech friendly, that is.

While services such as Storify have been around for a while, I really like how the platforms mentioned are doing a terrific job in involving remote audiences and de-cluttering media.

1. Sponsor Marketplaces
Event professionals sell ideas. They sell the idea of an experience to their attendees.

They are artists and they shouldn't be bothered with hunting for sponsors. I love services that recognize the value of putting together powerful ideas.

The platforms featured in this trend offer a monetizing opportunity for those event professionals who have bold ideas.

On the same page also vendors should compete while we concentrate on throwing the event of the century.

In Conclusion

I hope 10 Event Trends for 2013 will give you some food for thought for the upcoming festivities.

Allow me to wish you happy holidays and a delightful 2013 on behalf of the whole team.

If we made a difference for you this year, share our content. We'll know we are on the right track.

about the author

Julius Solaris
Julius Solaris is the editor of EventManagerBlog.com, he is an international speaker, author and consultant.
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  • What a delight! Julius thanks so much for mentioning Eventifier *humbled*

  • Wow this was an incredible resource Julius – congrats on your hard work – and keep it up!

  • Daring, trailblazing Julius – thanks for this optimistic set of trends for next year. I share your hopes and mentioned the crowdsourcing speakers at a #pharma conferenceof meeting planners (had to explain what term meant)…here are some of my suggestions, hopes and predictions for conferences and for companies, fyi

  • Looking forward with the list next year. Keep up the good work Julius! You are simply amazing.

  • innovateordie

    Thanks for mentioning http://reallifeconnect.com

  • Eddie Deen

    Hey Julius!! I’m completely new to your blogging. I’m already impressed by your blog. Great ideas. I was recently a part of an event with country based theme. Hope I can implement your ideas in my next event.

    • Awesome Eddie!

      Welcome to the blog, I hope you’ll find value in it


  • Stefanos Missailidis

    Definitely agree with #6 and Collaborative Consumption. Fiestah.com is another one of those companies. They focus on event services like catering, photography, etc.

  • Pingback: Event Trends for 2013 | Klaxon()

  • Anne Thornley-Brown

    This is a fabulous list Julius and I do believe you have your finger on the pulse of the shape of things to come for the events industry. There is some really meaty content here but I want to focus on your comment about team building as that is my speciality.

    For sure mobile devices and social media will become increasingly important for team building. I am pleased that company, Executive Oasis International has been ahead of the curve. For over a decade, after seeing them in Japan, we have been using GPS units in Survivor inspired team building retreats in desert, winter and wilderness settings. We have also incorporated them into strictly recreational programmes like race style events and urban safaris. We are chomping at the bit and all set to integrate social media driven challenges into team building but have found that most companies aren’t quite ready for it. We are confident that we will be seeing an explosion in the demand for technology assisted and social media assisted team building as Generation Y makes its way into corporation in greater numbers.

    As you can see from my recent blog feature, you and I are definitely in sync with respect to this point.

    – 10 team building Trends for 2013

    Your trend 9 is definitely in harmony with my trends 5 & 6.

    Bravo for once again hitting the mark Julius.

  • mimoza

    by far the best blog post I have read in here and the one I have learnt the most from!

  • Julius, just came across your post and I think it is a great resource for the events industry. Fantastic! With resources like these I trust that the traditional conference industry takes the leap of innovation and start trying all the fantastic resources available out there. Thanks for sharing, we will do our bit to spread the knowledge.