2019 will be a big year for event planning, with event experience being 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. 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. Here’s where we anticipate the biggest changes will take place in the event industry this year:

1. Facial Recognition Will Bolster Guest Management & Experience

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. 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. Clever Flooring Will Build Data From The Ground Up

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.
  • Collecting floor traffic data and correlating it on the spot so that you can sell sponsorships for next year before sponsors leave your event.

3. Bleisure Travel Becomes The New Norm

What do you get when you add leisure plans to your business trip? You get a cute name (bleisure) and a lot of fun. At events or conferences, adding in pre- or post- adventures or in-conference day trips provides extra incentives to attend. Provide work/life balance for your attendees:

  • When selecting a venue and a location, choose something that might be on an attendee’s bucket list. Something like Iceland and the aurora borealis gives someone an additional reason to check out your event.
  • Offer an extra activity that appeals to a specific niche your ideal audience shares. This could be a love of a sports team or a historical reenactment.
  • Plan your conference dates to end before the weekend, to give maximum bleisure travel opportunities.

4. Build Destination Connections

Attendees want to experience the destination on a personal level, so creating fun and unique activities that also tie to the destination is a tricky balance to get right. But, if you can create an emotive connection between attendee and destination, you’ll be making the event memorable and more than likely, enjoyable. Encourage the connection:

  • Adrenaline rushes. Plenty of destinations have a bungee, skydiving or abseiling capacity and doing something that scares attendees will give them a once in a lifetime opportunity. Plus, it gives attendees a chance to overcome fears!
  • Unique activities. Select something you can’t try at home! Goat yoga, for example, gives guests a different kind of activity without being over-the-top. It is sure to be a memorable experience.
  • Connect to morals. Choose a destination that is already synonymous with your event theme that can enhance it. For example, an event that focuses on sustainability, that chooses a destination that is eagerly sustainable connects with an attendee’s focus, makes them feel more authentic and better able to enjoy the event.
  • Unique transportation. Bring an extra element to the immersion by providing a unique way to get around. Riverboats can be popular as well as rentable city Segways for a trendy solution. Cater the transportation to best suit the city and benefit the attendee.

5. Experiences Will Define Events. Creativity Will Define Success.

Last year, 80% of event planners reported more experience creation in their jobs then just two to five years previous. This year, experience creation will continue to define events and the jobs of the planners behind them.

As the bar continually climbs higher for events, planners will have to create more immersive experiences in less time and without additional resources. Venues will need to partner more closely with planners to bring these experiences to life, adding value as creative collaborators in the face of sky-high event expectations.

6. Unthinkable Spaces as Event Backdrops

Some venues are making the most of every square foot of their venue. It’s no longer simply offering many services under one roof. It’s also about the service space itself. Venue managers have noted a trend with event planners longing for non-traditional spaces and are accommodating this wish through making non-standard spaces available in the contract.

These original spots are helping venues capitalise on areas of their business they weren’t using before. It also increases the amounts and types of groups they can accommodate and it gives event planners options that make a big impression. Get an edge with your venue choice:

  • Explore spaces that you can really put your stamp on by renting a parking lot or the roof of a venue. Popular venues are capitalising on this demand for unusual spaces by hiring out areas that would previously have been off limits. The main concourse at sporting venues and outdoor spaces are now in high demand. As a planner, you can enjoy the benefits of a purpose-built venue but the wow factor of creating something that guests would never expect.
  • Be brave and explore dry hire options for venues that have never been used for events. Food courts in the mall, aircraft hangars, industrial wood shops, and anywhere guests can be accommodated might provide a versatile space for your event vision.
  • Focus on the architectural details of the spot, such as the exposed piping of a warehouse, these gems will give an authentic and photo-rich opportunity to your event.

7. Showcase Local Talent In Event Artwork

Using art can create a unique atmosphere for the event and is an increasingly popular décor type. With sustainability and CSR becoming more important to attendees, ensuring that you use local artists or source locally is in line with their expectations and can showcase local talent. Sustainable art options:

  • Urban graffiti. Contract local graffiti artists to make a mural or work with digital platforms to turn artwork into lighting projections to decorate walls.
  • Original artwork. Commission local artists to create an original piece that suits the style or theme of your event. This could also be an excellent giveaway idea for fundraisers too.

8. Think Outside The Box When It Comes To Food Design

Turn food into art and décor pieces by designing something to make a statement. Whether it’s a food carving or sculpture or an intricate art display, the way food is presented adds to the aesthetic and makes the finer details stand out. Artify your food:

  • Ice bar. Make an ice sculpture multi-functional by converting it into a bar to chill food, giving it a self-regulating display.
  • Dessert showcase. Include lighting elements or shelving and showcase your creative side like this neon dessert wall.
  • Art bar. This chef literally turns the dessert station into an edible artwork on a lit backdrop which is both impressive and culinary genius.

9. Color Dynamics

In 2019, expect big bold colors and dramatic textures to complement your styling, whether it’s the fabric of your tables and draping or what your attendees are looking at on the runway, color can make or break an event atmosphere. Make a rainbow:

  • Color of the year. The 2019 Pantone Color of the Year is an alluring shade of peach known as “Living Coral”. Find ways for this to complement your styling and be on color trend – we wrote a blog post giving you ideas here.
  • Blossoms. 2019 comes at us in a watercolor of oversized floral prints and gorgeous embellished sheers. Think of Monet and his Water Lilies with a hint of whimsy from Van Gogh. Large-scale floral prints in every color imaginable lead the way in 2019, whether on your tables or splashed across a wall or dance floor with gobos. You can’t go wrong with big blossoms.
  • Lighting for color. It can be difficult for larger corporate venues to use fabrics or décor to create an immersive color experience but lighting can have the same effect.

10. Embrace Last Minute Attendees

One of the hottest event industry trends for 2019 is ensuring you continue marketing up until the last minute. Attendees are waiting longer and longer to register and buy tickets. People are leaving options open and waiting for last-minute travel deals to help offset ticket prices. So how do you capture those last-minute registrants and still maximize your resources? Keep ticket sales going:

  • One suggestion is personalized follow-up and targeting. Send out reminder emails to previous attendees who have yet to register. Personalize the message to make the recipient feel like they’d be missed if they didn’t attend. To instill even more of the VIP feeling, send it from your founder or CEO.
  • Step away from early bird discounts to more extreme early bird pricing. Set a limited number of tickets at a lower price or offer a discounted rate until the program is finalised, giving no set deadline. When people have no guarantee of how long the cheaper rates are available it creates a bigger sense of urgency akin to Black Friday deals that are available until they run out. You don’t know when that will be so you buy now or risk missing out.
  • Use reverse psychology in your event marketing. By having standard tickets and a late booking ticket rate it can start to change people’s approach to leaving it to the last minute as no one wants to incur a perceived penalty rate.
  • If you are running an event that runs for more than one day, another good strategy to boost ticket sales for subsequent days could be to create video highlights which are edited and published quickly at the end of each day. This can be promoted, with clear messages that tickets are still available, to entice people to buy and come along on the remaining event days.

11. Micro-Influencers Will Have Big Impact

Many events are having success working with multiple micro-influencers. Instead of working with one celebrity name with hundreds of thousands of followers it can be more cost-effective to work with a number of hyper-targeted influencers with thousands or tens of thousands of followers instead. The audiences of micro-influencers can be more focused on niche interests, meaning that the ratio and interaction can actually be greater and more effective, offering a scalable way to combine influence and authenticity. It can also suit event marketers who are looking to pay for the experience, instead of paying for the endorsement.

12. Pop Up Potential

Time limited, temporary events are a popular trend to create a buzz and capture people’s interest. Perhaps in keeping with the Snapchat revolution where content is only available for a finite amount of time, pop-up events offer a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of the moment before it disappears forever. And, of course, it fuels the need to capture that moment and share details on social media too, before it vanishes.

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