Q2-Q4 Event Trends: New or Simply Accelerated?
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Spring is almost here and with that comes hope of what Q2-Q4 has in store for Canadian corporate events. Some organizations have been doing great research in determining trends and forecasts for 2022 including EventMB. Many of the trends to watch show results of event professionals metabolizing what they have learned and developed in order to host events under Covid-related constraints. Necessity, it has been said, is the mother of invention, and many of the processes, tech, and frameworks invented to solve problems in 2021 have led us to discover new ways of connecting and engaging with each other. These innovations will drive the continuing evolution of event planning this year.
No matter what the future holds pandemic-wise, it is certain that 2022 is another year of intense transition for event professionals. To help you stay prepared, let’s look at some of the insights that emerged during EventMB's The Future of the Event Industry: 2022 Outlook Summit (FEI 2022).
1. Uncertainty Still Impacts Planning and Budgets
When polled, attendees of the EventMB 2022 summit overwhelmingly reported that they were following data about Covid infection rates to help plan future events, with about 30% staying on top of local numbers and nearly 50% following Covid information both locally and worldwide. Michael Dominguez, president and CEO of ALHI, says to extrapolate what Covid data shows now in order to make an informed prediction about what the public health contexts may be on your upcoming events. He says “the reason [Wayne Gretzky] was great is that he skated to where the puck was going to be, not to where the puck was.”
2. Event Platforms to Host Online Communities
Just over 40% of FEI 2022 poll respondents indicated that they either already had thriving online event communities or were beginning to build them. A further 29% said they had plans to build them. As these results suggest, pandemic-related advancements in digital event platforms have opened a powerful new tool for building and managing event-specific, evergreen digital communities.
3. Virtual Will Still Influence Experience Design
Integrating online and in-person communities at events remains challenging. Forty-two percent of the FEI 2022 Summit audience believe virtual events will be important in a post-Covid world, and 29% believe they will continue to be very important — so we can expect that these frictions will continue to push experience design into new territory this year.
4. Agile Event Planning Is Now the Gold Standard
Staying agile isn’t just about being able to react quickly, which planners do very well. It’s also about thinking and understanding thoroughly every aspect of the event. Hybrid and virtual components of events are here to stay, with 51% of attendees at the FEI2022 believing that they will primarily be using hybrid event formats in Q3 and Q4 of 2022.
5. Event Agencies Rethink Value-Adds and Services
Oscar Cerezales, the chief strategy officer at MCI Group believes “there are no new trends, Covid just accelerated all the trends.” Event agencies have found themselves mediating between clients and vendors, developing new models of shared risk. Changing budgets and cost realities are changing the way agencies allocate resources, as well as their own core missions. Upskilling and offering higher-tier value-adds like conceptual planning and high-end digital broadcast content development, have already changed the way agencies interact with their clients.
6. Event Tech Puts Shared Experience First
High quality content can no longer be an afterthought. The quality of video production ultimately affects an attendee’s respect level for your brand and your company. As the technology develops, there is a growing expectation that event planners will utilize tech solutions to allow attendees a high degree of personalization, enhancing the value of their experience by ensuring that the content they connect with is convenient to access and directly meaningful.
7. Trade Shows Return to In-Person
There has been a lot of speculation that pent-up demand for in-person experiences will drive strong attendance at trade shows as health restrictions relax, but attendees at FEI 2022 offered some concrete insight into what’s to come. When asked, “What is your level of interest in attending industry trade show events compared to a pre-Covid pandemic?” 27% responded, “More interested,” 50% expressed “The same level of interest,” and 17% said they are now less interested than before.
8. Values Offer New Compass for Event Marketing Strategies
The use of data analytics to understand attendee needs and gauge ROI has become a common practice for event profs and their clients. Often this data is sorted according to demographic information, but according to David Allison, that’s all wrong: “These stereotypes that we rely on when we look at the world through a demographic lens are not accurate, and our data proves this.”
Allison is the visionary behind “valuegraphics.” As opposed to demographics, which sorts people using categories like age, education level, and ethnicity, valuegraphics works with 56 core human values that Allison and his team identified after analyzing survey data from 750,000 respondents globally. The idea is that valuegraphics tell much more about a person (and what motivates them) and therefore is a more effective tool for targeting event marketing and producing spot-on content for attendees.
9. Events Goals and Audience Needs to Drive Strategy
Event profs have many tools now, both for digital and in-person contexts — many will be using a range of tools from both benches for the same client and often for the same event. Plotting a primary event strategy will require having a very clear lock on the event purpose to make sure the mode of content delivery engages attendees effectively.
10. Events Fill Need for Remote Work Connections
The decentralization of work was already a trend that the pandemic accelerated exponentially, making it a common reality in many workplaces. Remote and hybrid work has created new workflows and processes that will powerfully influence the future of work. Even as restrictions lift, many employers may choose to continue to implement remote and hybrid environments because of the enhanced access to talent that they make possible; 72% of the attendees of the summit identified “flexible” as their preferred working arrangement. More and more employers are beginning to consider how to design work experience to facilitate productivity and talent retention, and part of this is a trend to use event tech to facilitate internal meetings and experiences.
The event industry will never be the same again – the entire landscape has changed from venue protocols and processes to the event industry talent pool. Experienced operational labour has left, and technology savvy labour has arrived. The outcome is a way more advanced industry that we believe will include some of the most innovative and creative, event and experience designs we will have the opportunity to be a part of in our careers. Are we ready for it – hell yes!