In just a few days, 2017 will be history. The year brought event professionals a host of challenges around technological advancements, security, politics and travel, to name just a few. While next year will continue to prove difficult in many of those same areas, experts are pointing out that 2018 will be filled with opportunities for show organizers to rethink how events can capitalize on the human factor.
To wrap-up the year, here are a few predictions from five event industry veterans about what they foresee coming down the pike for events in 2018.
According to Marco Pardi, managing director of UBM Technology Group, customer-led design is a trend to watch as me move into 2018.
“As fundamental as putting the customer first may be, this is specific to the experiences being put together for the attendee and delivering on moments they cannot gain anywhere else,” Pardi said. “This is built on the foundation of organizing events with unique programs that connect attendees in interesting ways and lead them to enjoy the event in a way they won’t forget while compelling them to share those stories with others.”
Michael Doane, marketing manager of CadmiumCD, believes that myriad technology trends, including personalization, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and augmented reality will continue to grow throughout 2018.
“What people don’t generally talk about is that at the end of the day, events are human-centric,” Doane said. “In a world that feels more fractured than ever, events still bring people together. Technology at events needs to do the same. Through Facebook, we’ve seen the challenges caused by delivering hyper-personalized content to individuals. It makes the world smaller and divides people.”
Doane believes that a huge trend going forward will be understanding how to deliver personalized experiences in a way that fosters collaboration and understanding rather than segmentation, with events as the perfect playground to experiment with finding solutions for these types of challenges.
According to Bob James, president and chief storyteller at Bob and David James, event marketers should reconsider swamping attendees’ in-boxes with vague offers of ‘must-attend’ conferences.
“Attendees are growing angrier and more resistant by the day,” he said. “The counter-move is targeting, and you shouldn’t be surprised if 2018 turns out to be the year event marketers master it. The stakes are too high to do anything less. Targeting demands not only that you segment your lists, but that you think hard about the relevance of your value proposition and its expression.”
Curated content, video and experience have been the trade show marketing buzzwords of the last several years, said Julie Parsons, managing director of Fixation Marketing.
“It’s our team’s prediction that in 2018 we will start to see more of those three coming together,” she said. “Shows that bring attendees, members and prospects into their event well before the doors open and blend content and experience together for a modern engagement and connection will see new levels of loyalty and growth.”
Sam Lippman, president of Lippman Connects predicts that in 2018, more shows will collocate and other shows will be “blown-up” into niche events.
“This will happen because everyone – attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, media – will demand that a show be either be all-encompassing or have a laser-sharp focus to earn their support,” Lippman said.
It appears that a renewed focus on the human side of events could very well be a far-reaching trend that impacts all aspects of event logics, content and promotion. If show organizers adhere to the concept as the experts believe, 2018 promises to be a year that will spark a new level of creativity in the industry that will be exciting to watch!