Event Trends Watch: The Largest Trends Database of 2018

100+ event trends transforming the industry. This is your insight platform to navigate 2018 and access the latest ideas changing the way we plan and execute events.

If there is one thing that event planners from all over the world love EventMB for it would be current trends in event planning.

Since 2010, we have published some of the most successful research ever done on trends.

This is what makes our meetings and events industry trends different from others.

Don’t get me wrong.

It’s fun to speculate on what the future may look like. It is my idea though that you have a business or an event to run. And you don’t have time for chit-chat.

This is the catch.

Research makes a difference. Internally we call this ongoing, eight year-long research, Event Trends Watch.

It is based on the following:

  • The largest and fastest growing database of event technology companies
  • The largest research ever carried out on event technology
  • The feedback from approximately 5,000 event professionals on what is trending.

This is why eyebrows rise when we read about trends sometimes. Give us facts, not fluff.

Ok, but what’s in it for you, dear reader?

We are making our Event Trends Watch public. This page will become the reference for those researching the industry. We will update it with research (we just closed one with 2,400 respondents).

And we are stepping it up.

For each trend, we are giving you practical tips to make it happen.

It is a great complement to our annual trends report (where you will find examples and thought leadership advice). 5,000 eventprofs got their free PDF in a month. Did you?

For event industry trends 2018, here’s what I am going to give you:

The Event Technology Trends That Will Elevate Your Event in 2018

2018 will be a big year for event planning as many of the long talked about event planning trends will soon be within our reach. Smartphones have more capabilities and connections to our lives, event tech is becoming more reasonably priced and targeted to individual needs, and tech that used virtual and augmented reality was on many people’s gift-giving lists this year.

Another factor shaping event tech is the coming together of companies to offer one-stop-shop experiences. Integrated services are the hot sellers this year.

Marketers and sponsors are also becoming more savvy and data-oriented. Fluff has no place in event tech these days. Products must deliver measurable value.

Here at EMB, we’ve predicted a lot of the event planning trends over the years. In this guide, we’re sharing how they all come together for the benefit of the planner and the audience.

1. Bolster Guest Management and Experience with Facial Recognition

Home tech is influencing event tech. Just as in the case of voice search, we’re likely to see facial recognition from devices like Apple spill over into the event industry. The ramifications of this are extraordinary but the processing time is still being fine-tuned. Still, it’s something we all should be watching. Ultimately, we’ll learn how to… Increase efficiency with facial recognition:

  • Check-in and registration become much quicker with this tech. Some theme parks are already using this technology. It’s also more secure.
  • Ensure greater safety by using facial recognition to spot people on known security lists.
  • Improve your social media reach by using facial recognition in tagging people in photos from your event.

2.  Play Up Group Tech Experiences

Another hot trend is using tech to create social experiences out of what was previously alone time. Friends are watching movies together from thousands of miles away. They’re competing with one another on video games across continents. This has some fantastic implications for your event attendees and those who are following the excitement at home. They no longer have to be mere voyeurs but can join in. Link up people online for stronger connections:

  • Use live 360-degree video (what many refer to as VR) to connect remote audiences. Give them the opportunity to attend an event together in order to bolster buying online-only tickets.
  • Create content for sharing. YouTubers make a living out of commentary on videos. Their commentary becomes additional content and a way to enjoy a video or event. You can use industry influencers for play-by-play commentary on your events, creating a secondary event (and additional content) in the process.
  • Develop tracks for niche interests at your event. With a virtual ticket and a paired up “host,” guests could experience inside tracks in a way much different than in prior events. They could attend meetups and the hallway track by being able to select from in-person led experiences not just watching sessions.

3. Employ Voice for Greater Engagement

AI is increasingly becoming the norm behind attendee experience. Even if you haven’t started using it at your events, your attendees are using it at home and work. In fact, according to Google, in 2016 20% of searches were voice searches. Use voice to drive engagement:

  • Look into ways for your voice tech to perform actions. People are moving away from asking questions to asking voice assistants to perform commands, from “where is my next session” to “sign me up for the session on X.”
  • Create “if, then” scenarios that are helpful to attendees. Be proactive in your voice assistance. For example, if someone asks where vendor X is on the exhibit floor, the assistant could then ask if they’d like to schedule some one-on-one time with that vendor.
  • Link the ability to read badges with your chatbot or voice assistant so it has all the information about the attendee it needs to be helpful.

4. Build the Data from the Ground Up with Clever Floor

Clever flooring is creating some exciting opportunities for events. It’s making data collection and analysis easier than ever and something that happens (nearly) organically. Slay data collection by:

  • Using smart mats and other unobtrusive technologies to collect data from critical areas.
  • Employing smart mats to increase sponsorships with known traffic numbers and accurate, real-time data. No more talk about generic “great exposure” with potential sponsors. You can show them real numbers.
  • Collecting floor traffic data and correlating it on the spot so that you can sell sponsorships for next year before sponsors leave your event. You can use fear of missing out and scarcity to sell out sponsorships in key locations while your current event is still going on.

5. Connect with a Greater Number of People Through App Interpreters

Electronic translators aren’t new for 2018 but the technology has undergone some much-needed maturation. These apps are now reliable enough to offer a positive experience for event attendees and help bridge some of the previously-existing communication gaps. Traverse the communication gap:

  • Use remote translation services. Finding local translators isn’t always easy. With this type of technology, translators could be available remotely or through an app giving your attendees a good communication experience regardless of time and where they are at your event.
  • Save money using remote translation services. Apps don’t have to be paid hourly, for travel, or incidentals.
  • Use subject matter experts regardless of their knowledge of the language that most of your attendees speak. This frees up the selection process to find the person who knows the most without sacrificing attendee experience or understanding.

You’ll find even more ideas in the table below:

Putting Chatbots to WorkTechnology
Improving Attendee Experience Through Personalization TechTechnology
Roll Out the Red Carpet and Create VIP ExperiencesTechnology
Gain More Sponsorships Through Augmented RealityTechnology
Win Over New Attendees and Larger Audiences with Influence Marketing TechTechnology

BONUS video

The Event Experience and Meeting Design Trends That Will Wow Your Audience

Event experience is the focus for most event planners. They know it’s one of the most important things you can do to improve retention numbers and increase word of mouth marketing. But coming up with innovative ideas can be taxing, especially with all the organization and marketing required.

But you need to find a way.

The underlying current that flows through almost all of the trends in event experience below is a further embracing of the human side of the event world. Recognizing that the people at events really are the event and that their issues and their internal world should be of paramount concern.  

Below we have brought together meeting design trends from our latest two trends reports: 2017 event design trends & 2018 event design trends. Use these trends and actionable ideas to guide your event planning for an improved attendee experience.

Improve Your Event EQ: Mindfulness, Wellness and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)Meeting Design
Move Past Speeches: Rethinking Content DeliveryMeeting Design
Appeal to the Bleisure Traveller for Greater AttendanceMeeting Design
Amplify Security without Causing AlarmMeeting Design
Navigate Travel BansMeeting Design
Use Neuroscience Persuasion at EventsMeeting Design
Safeguard Your Event Reputation Through Safeguarding AttendeesMeeting Design
Bring Attendees Together Under DFI (Demand for Impact)Meeting Design
Increase Your Event Publicity by Inviting the PublicMeeting Design
Increase Attendee Loyalty Through Hive Mind PowerMeeting Design
Empower Attendees to Be Heroes with a Conference that CaresMeeting Design
Create a Sense of PlaceMeeting Design
Capture Imaginations with Time TravelMeeting Design
Address Industry ChallengesMeeting Design
Ditch Innovating for Innovation’s SakeMeeting Design
Open Labs for Extraordinary ExperiencesMeeting Design
Basking in the CloudMeeting Design
Creating IllusionMeeting Design
Build TrustMeeting Design
Be ExclusiveMeeting Design

The Venues Trends That Can Turn Around Meetings and Events in 2018

The venue plays an essential role in any event and it’s usually one of the first things selected and one of the biggest costs. A venue shapes the event and makes a big impression. It may even be one of the deciding factors as to whether someone attends the event or not.

So what are some of the trends in event venues you need to be aware of?

The venue flavors the event. It’s style and ambiance create an impression on your audience. Although venues are bricks and mortar constructions we have explored the event horizon and listened as growing interest in the following trends has bubbled up.

Branded VenuesVenues
Nose to Tail and Everything in BetweenVenues
Unthinkable Spaces as Event BackdropsVenues
Landmark VenuesVenues
Multi-Purpose VenuesVenues
Weirder and More Wonderful VenuesVenues
Go RogueVenues
The Rise and Rise of BYOVenues
Explosion In Use of Non-Dedicated Meeting SpacesVenues
Food, Glorious FoodVenues
Vive La Difference!Venues
Live Like a LocalVenues
Intellectual Capital Over Physical InfrastructureVenues

The Event Styling and Décor Trends To Quickly Make Your Event Beautiful

Styling and décor are more than the physical, they are emotive. They set the scene and become the first stage in driving attendee behavior and delivering a memorable atmosphere.

So how do you achieve this without being over the top?

Simple, you understand the trends and adaptations that are popular this year as well as how you can cater to the needs of all of your attendees using elements like the floor plan to drive sales or furniture to promote learning. We look at how each of these trends is driving different reactions and behavior, making events successful and examples of events that have done it best.

Rising event decor trends 2017 – 2018:

Extreme ThemingDécor
Storytelling SponsorshipSponsorship
Sponsorship CustomizationSponsorship
Color DynamicsDécor
Incorporating DigitalTechnology
Refreshment RevolutionCatering
Structured FlowMeeting Design
Balloons, Balloons, BalloonsDécor
Sustainability StylingDécor
Networking HubsNetworking/Play
Deconstructed FoodCatering
Styling Facilitating NetworkingNetworking/Play
Engaging FurnitureDécor
Local ArtworkDécor
Participatory StylingDécor
ZoningMeeting Design
Custom LoungesDécor
Furniture PowerTechnology
The Unicorn TrendDécor
Food DesignCatering

The 2018 Trends in Event Marketing that will Help you Sell More Tickets

We all know that keeping up with the latest marketing tips and techniques can be a challenge but you don’t want to get left behind on your marketing strategy.

The good news is that there are plenty of new techniques you can apply right now to ensure you’re ten steps ahead of the competition.

In case you hadn’t noticed, everyone’s a marketer these days. From the person who answers the phone to the individual who pitches the clients, you’re marketing your event firm or department at every turn.

Marketing has evolved a lot over the past several years with social media and data making connections possible that wouldn’t have happened even a few years ago. Are you staying ahead of the curve when it comes to event marketing?

Share the PainMarketing
Embrace the Last Minute AttendeesMarketing
Different Pricing ModelsMarketing
Brand PowerMarketing
Dark SocialSocial Media
Micro-Influencers having Big ImpactMarketing
Authentic ContentMarketing
Visual AppealMarketing
Drip MarketingMarketing
Pop Up PotentialMarketing

The Top Meeting Destination Trends that will Help you Choose the Perfect Location

It’s not all about the venue, attendees are looking to the destination as a whole to provide unique offerings.

But what should you look for in a destination to make it stand out?

A destination must appeal and complement the event, particularly as a lot of time is spent in hotels, networking or with scheduled free time. You don’t want the event to fall flat because attendees are holed up in a motel, miles away from activities when they break for the day, so choosing a destination that opens up further opportunities is important. We look at the meetings and events industry trends influencing event destinations as well what they can do to prepare themselves for event planners.

Destination PlaygroundsNetworking/Play
Overcoming The PastDestinations
Next-Level SustainabilitySustainability
City ImmersionDestinations
Joining ForcesDestinations
Growing NeighborhoodsDestinations
Social DestinationsSocial Media
Local Intellectual CapitalSustainability
Innovating FuturesTechnology
Build Destination ConnectionsDestinations
Destination DevelopmentDestinations
Supported InfrastructureDestinations
Destinations With DepthDestinations
Personalization On A Grand ScaleDestinations

The 2018 Trends for Destination Management Companies (DMCs) that will Impact your Event

As a destination management company (DMC) are you wondering what you can bring event planners that they haven’t seen? Are you striving to make 2018 a one for the record books? Or maybe you’re an event planner looking for an innovative DMC and are wondering what others are doing?

The 2018 trends in event destination management companies reflect what is going on in events at large, more personalization and a greater focus on creating a memorable attendee experience. While this means something different in every area of events, for DMCs it’s a calling to provide something extraordinary or difficult for the planners to do themselves, more value for less effort on their end.

Humanizing the DestinationMarketing
Creating Childlike Wonder and NostalgiaMarketing
Fun ExplorationMarketing
Establishing the Softer SideDécor
NO to Boring BallroomsDécor
Walk This WayVenues
Repurpose, Reuse, RecycleSustainability
Culinary Awareness and AlternativesCatering

In Conclusion

So, there you have it – 100 trends event planners should definitely take note of for 2018. Covering event technology, meeting design, event styling, event marketing, venues, destinations and DMCs – we hope that you are inspired to put these cutting edge suggestions into practice.

Now onto you:

  • Do you have a tip to make this page better? Or an idea to add to the idea engine for how to attract more business? Send an email to contact@eventmanagerblog.com.
  • Do you have more tips and advice to add? Comment below.
  • Do you have a colleague who may benefit from reading this page? Share it with them.
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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Julius Solaris
Editor, Julius Solaris

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