What Event Trends Can We Expect To See In 2018?

16 November 2017

The  events industry  is constantly evolving and changing to the tune of the latest trends, so to keep you all up to date, we had a look at what we can be expecting to see a lot of next year and how this will impact the job that you do now.

Interviewing the experts, we spoke to the most well-connected in the business;  the in-the-know event professionals who will keep you ahead of the curve for 2018 and, most importantly, abreast of the challenges that may affect your business.

With 2017 seeing a rise in live streaming, guest interaction, and VR in the events industry, there is a lot to consider. While these trends will still be making an appearance, our experts predict that we can be expecting to see events with a greater focus on wellbeing , interactive content and healthier food. With this in mind, let’s look into our ‘event profs’ crystal ball and see what 2018 will bring...

Let's see what our experts predict for the future...

What trends do our experts expect?

Debbie, one of our Account Managers, spends a lot of her days on the phone speaking to clients who are putting on all sorts of wonderful events. Debbie has seen a rise in bookings of events that look at mental health awareness and mindfulness. With Prime Minister Theresa May’s recent Thriving at Work Report detailing that a staggering 300,000 people with long-term  mental health  problems lose their jobs every year, this is definitely an issue that people are becoming more aware of and so certainly one we can expect to be addressed in 2018.

Wellness events are on the rise

Debbie has also seen that a lot of events will be looking at the power of positivity. As both 2016 and 2017 have been tough years  economically  and politically , business people are seeing, not only the value in, but also the need for much more positive events. Debbie said: “Clients are wanting events that focus on perseverance, believing in yourself and having the courage to go beyond”, so we will see a rise of this positivity in 2018 that was perhaps previously not addressed.

Lucy M, from our marketing team, agrees that this is a trend we can expect to see in 2018. With her ear to the marketing ground, Lucy expects next year will see a greater influx of events that enable storytelling and experience sharing across the board. Lucy predicts that events will now become more open forums and conversations, moving away from the typical audience – performer dynamic into more of a conversation-focused event.

There will be a push for festival style events

Faye Loader, Head of Business Development at The Brewery, thinks there are two main areas that are changing. “Firstly, there was a big push for festival style events. Traditional  conferences  that would previously have had a breakout session, workshops and plenary are moving towards a festival style format. This means they would have a lot of content running in different streams simultaneously - a flexible format that allows delegates to choose where they go.” This open style also lends itself toward that desirable conversation style format that Lucy M predicts.

Faye also commented that “event organisers are now changing the name of their conference from 'summit' to 'festival' to make this move clear to delegates. It is a change that is happening at both big and small events, but because organisers are noticing the need for more space to run a festival style event, two or more events are combining into one. The previous one-day event might now be a week-long engagement which is more fluid, allowing delegates to drop in and out."

There will be a push for 'festival-style' events

Bespoke food options will tie into the theme of the event

"The second trend is that clients are asking for bespoke food options instead of a set menu, tying the food into the content and theme of the event. More and more, we are seeing that organisers want their event to be a full sensory experience, they want to take their delegates on a journey and this is definitely a trend that we expect to be huge in 2018. For example, this year we had an event for a construction company, and, in the glass canapes, there were little Lego men building with construction hats on, so the branding tied directly into their organisation in a really fun way.”

Faye also touched on the wellbeing point too, noting that in an event the Brewery recently attended the IMEX in Las Vegas, one of the globe’s biggest exhibitions. Commenting following her return, Faye said “they had specific wellbeing session every morning – a mindful meditation which set delegates up for the day. They also had a pretend turf with dogs on there that you could go and cuddle when you were feeling stressed.”

That sounds so fun, but wellbeing is not only a trend we are seeing cropping up in the type of sessions now available to delegates at conferences, but it is appearing in the food also.

Food will be healthier and the demand for vegan options is on the rise

Lucy M had noticed the average consumer is far more health-conscious and are wanting to see a step towards fresher  foods  at conferences. Lu Ann Willians the director of innovation at Innova Market Insights noted this at the start of 2017, as the market research firm announced their Top Ten Trends list for the year, Lu commented that “interest in naturalness and clean label continues to feature strongly” and after speaking to our experts we can see this filtering down into the events world. 2018 will see healthy catering options being brought out more strongly in event menus.

Priya Narain, the Sales and Event Manager for Boulevard Events, let us into the food trends that we can expect to see next year. Pryia said “everyone is looking for healthier menus, the pastries at breakfast are being swapped for fruit bowls, lunches typically will contain superfoods that aren’t so carb-heavier so delegates are feeling refreshed when it comes to the afternoon session, rather than tired out. Also, while veganism isn’t a trend, the demand for vegan options is on the rise. Previously you would be presented with the ‘standard’ menu and then have to request for vegan options, but now we are seeing more vegan options at the forefront of the menu.”

Vegan options will be at the forefront of the menu

Events will need immersive branding to stand out

Gabby Austen-Browne the Corporate Events Manager at Egg, and she shared with us some of the trends we can expect to see in the branding of events in 2018. Gabby says that “people really now want immersive events and this feeds into everything. They are wanting more from the traditional entertainment options. For example, instead of karaoke, people now want to sing with a live band as their backing, instead of a music track. The same goes for photo booths, people are moving past the standard pop up booth, as they now want more set and scenery in their photos, but that specifically links to the theme of their event. We are getting a lot more requests for interactive props, for example we are hosting a Christmas party that is Studio 54 theme, so rather than bringing in an external photo booth company, we are using the production and theming in the venue to turn one of the rooms into a whole photo booth experience.”

Not only are people wanting more of a practical ‘immersive experience’ from their entertainment, but they are wanting real practical takeaways from their conferences too. Our Head of Account Management Adam says: “We can expect to see a lot more internal  sales events  for all departments, not just the sales teams. With event professionals wanting to give their audiences content that they can put into practice, 2018 will see a lot more events with a focus on sales techniques.”

Lipika Mandal, former Head of Events at Linklaters, spoke to us about attendee experience.  She said: “It is vital to engage your audience. Aim to tap into an emotional response to create an unforgettable experience be it with the choice of venue, guest speaker topics, workshops or activities. One trend we will be seeing in 2018 is the need to provide more global networking opportunities. A large proportion of the workforce will be millennials in the next few years, so we will need to be engaging with this group in a way that suits them as well as ensuring we aren’t losing the interest of other generations if working within a traditional sector.”

We need to provide more global networking opportunities

Organisers will need to provide more collaborative environments and scheduled personal time

"This need to invigorate the millennial workforce will see a move away from the traditional classroom environment with Learning & Development and we can expect to see new elements being added which foster an environment for creative networking, interaction and collaboration.”

A collaborative arrangement will also be echoed in the format of events in 2018 too, Lipika says “as we all know, health and wellbeing (both physically and mentally) is gaining in importance and, fortunately, hotels and venues are realising this both within hotel design and meeting organisation. Build time into agendas for networking, checking business emails and personal downtime.  Ensure good health facilities are available or provide running/ walking maps for the local area and build in interactive meeting breaks with juices and healthy snacks and fruit."

A secure Wi-Fi connection and a contingency plan will become top priorities

Lastly, the other trend Lipika said will gain momentum in 2018 is a greater focus on safety and security . She told us “event managers have a legal duty of care to their attendees and event staff, and this can be extremely challenging in the current climate. We need to give significant thought and attention during the planning phase of both local and global events and continuing onsite with reviewing risk assessments and security checks. Event planners need to constantly be contingency planning, reviewing contract attrition, force majeure and cancellation policies.”

On the topic of security, cyber security is another issue that we need to be paying attention to.  "As cybercrime rises, corporate events require secure Wi-Fi connection in order to help with the issue of data protection, not forgetting that most attendees now have several work and personal devices which all require connection throughout the duration of a meeting or conference."

Thanks to all our experts for their insights into what we can be watching out for in 2018. Event managers are in for a big year planning, organising and executing these trends in order to meet the needs of the current workforce. On the whole, we can expect to see events that provide a more holistic experience and ones which address the problem of burn out and mental health in the industry.

To book, or for more info. on any of our speakers, call us on +44 (0) 20 7607 7070 or email us at  info@speakerscorner.co.uk .

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