Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Trends Impacting Events in 2014

At the end of every year we all scramble to put together a list of trends we think will be huge in the year to come. Rarely do we stop per quarter to note whether any of the trends are actually taking off, or whether something else may have popped up instead. Here are a list of the trends I currently see making headway in the event industry:

1. Digital Check In
 2014 seems to be the year of streamlining the check in process for events. Its something that event producers and attendees have grumbled about for years, but very little was available to help make checking in and receiving credentials easier. This year it seems like event start ups have finally streamlined the process enough for planners to take a leap of faith and try them out. Startups like Check in Easy,  Boomset and Eventfarm are helping to provide platforms to avoid long lines, paper and the dreaded "Can you spell your last name for me again?"

Registration tables are being replaced by brand ambassadors holding iPads loaded with check in lists and attendees are simply a button press away from admittance. FINALLY!

2. Experiences Vs. Selling Points
This trend seems to be continuing from last year. As marketing and event budgets rise, we are seeing more clients understanding that providing an experience is a better way to reach their target market and ultimately maximize ROI instead of just ramming selling points down potential customers' throats. Hopefully, this trend wont ever go away.

3. Increase in Budgets
Budgets have been tight since 2008. If you ask any planner who has been in the business for a while they will tell you that budgets are always tight when it comes down to producing events. 2014 seems to be the year where budgets are on a slight uptick. Not sure whether it is because it costs a little more to create a cohesive and integrated experience or whether client's are starting to feel more confident in Events as a medium for selling and marketing. Whatever it is, it's good.

4. No More Hotels Venues
Hotel venues aren't bad, don't get me wrong. They just aren't always the perfect place for your event. As budgets rise a little, clients are able to start looking beyond hotel venues. It's now trendy to rent out a warehouse build the raw space into what you need it to be. Finding odd and off the beaten track venues are in.

5. Event Start Ups
I think it might have taken a while for event startups to streamline their data and understand exactly what it is us event planners "need" to help us produce. Finally there are some great helpful companies whose sole goal is to make my life as a planner easier. I currently love: Gravy, Boomset, Socialtables, and GetMeConnected. All you have to do is type in Event StartUps into your search engine and you will see how many pop up. And they are good!

There are two other trends I am watching right now to see whether they really take off.

1. I am seeing a lot of events have much nicer websites and interfaces. There are links to live feeds, content marketing made easy, push functions to social media outlets and each page is pretty and easy to use. I am also happy to see SplashThat is rising in the ranks. It offers a nice, simple and clean interface that is easy for us producers to use, but even easier for attendees to navigate.

2. Second trend is linking causes to B to C events. Philanthropy and events have always gone hand in hand. Galas, fundraisers and auctions have always been a preferred way to drum up some cash for a great cause. Now we are seeing causes being linked to guerrilla events, cocktail parties, daytime luncheons and more. Whether it's a portion of your registration fee or just the press and buzz it helps garner, I am seeing more and more BtoC events featuring a cause.