When it comes to meetings and events, planners are tackling a whole new landscape of questions, concerns and opportunities. Are you ready?
WHEN IT COMES to business gatherings — from the smallest of meetings to large conferences hosting hundreds — attendees are attracted to an event based on what they think they’ll get out of the experience. This means an event must demonstrate real value and offer knowledge that attendees can use and pass on to colleagues.
Many of the corporate event planning trends over the next year will continue to be impacted by the pandemic and its effects, so safety and flexibility will be key. And other corporate event trends will be noted as time unfolds. But for now, there are a number of popular event types and themes that can help you inform your planning process.
Choose a format that works for your attendees
Trends in meetings and events show formatting will play a big role in corporate events. Despite a return to in-person events, many virtual and hybrid trends have proven they have staying power. No matter which event format you choose, be sure to consider your target audience and what they’re most interested in.
Virtual and hybrid events still reach the masses
Virtual events may have become popular because of Covid restrictions, but many creators have found that online events can reach a much wider audience than traditional in-person events. A virtual event is held completely online, while a hybrid event has both an in-person and online component. Hybrid events have emerged as a trend in meetings and events because of the way they accommodate attendees who are comfortable with in-person events and those who are not.
These work well if your event involves speakers, panels or performances that can be livestreamed to a remote audience. It’s a good idea to record speakers at your corporate events since you can use the video as collateral for future marketing materials, and you may already have the technology you need to stream your corporate event. If you need support for hosting a virtual event or the virtual component of your hybrid event, most meeting and event venues can help you create, promote and manage virtual events platforms.
Bring people together again with in-person events
People have been craving togetherness, so if it makes sense for your event, an in-person event has the potential to be a big hit. To ensure success, make sure your chosen venue has enough space and protocols to allow for any social distancing requirements — remember that ensuring your attendees feel safe and comfortable remains job-one.
But potential in-person attendees won’t just be looking to see if your event is safe, they’ll be looking for all the parts of events they missed out on during the pandemic. Give your audience the opportunity to mingle and interact with one another, participate in Q&As with speakers or experts and enjoy food and drink. Make sure your event is immersive and provides an experience that wouldn’t be possible online.
Keep it intimate with a micro event
If a large corporate conference or trade show doesn’t make sense for your organization, consider hosting a number of micro-events instead. Smaller events have become a current trend in the events industry due to previous restrictions on the number of people who could gather during the pandemic, but there have always been certain benefits to hosting these types of gatherings. A micro-event with a single speaker will give attendees the opportunity to truly interact with the speaker, unlike an event with a packed auditorium. Your micro-events can be more interactive and involve more discussion. This type of event works well for workshops and team-building exercises.
Topical themes will draw in attendees
A theme that interests your audience is key to generating interest in your next corporate event. It’s clear that trending conference themes have been heavily influenced by the pandemic and current events, but also by social issues that people care about. Think about what theme will best speak to your attendees.
Wellness and connection in the wake of the pandemic
The pandemic changed a lot about our day-to-day lives, including the way we work. Organizations have had to pivot in order to better support their employees, whether that means allowing remote work, more flexible scheduling or support for those who were directly affected by Covid. Wellness was a trending conference theme before the pandemic, and now taking care of ourselves and our loved ones has become even more critical. Consider an event that centers on helping people manage both living and working in their homes, with sessions that focus on work-life balance, flexible working styles, productivity, dealing with burnout and other related topics.
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace
Current events have brought issues with corporate diversity to the forefront of our minds. In an age where numerous companies are global and employees need to work across time zones with colleagues from other cultures, many people and organizations are considering how they can best foster respectful communication and safe working environments for everyone. Plan an event that brings together diversity and inclusion experts, HR professionals and others who care about healthy and diverse corporate cultures.
New technology in your field or industry
Many organizations will be on the lookout for the newest and most innovative technology, so it’s no surprise that tech conferences are an evergreen choice for a corporate event. Give vendors a chance to demonstrate new products and attendees the opportunity to try the new tech out. Invite speakers or panelists to discuss recent technological trends and what they mean for your industry as a whole. These types of events are always attractive to companies who want to stay on the cutting edge.
Delight attendees with amenities and technology
No matter what theme or format you choose for your event, there are certain things that your attendees are going to expect, which will make a big impact on their experience.
Accessibility: Ensure that every single person attending your event leaves a positive impression by planning ahead for a diverse crowd. Provide captions on your livestreams or appropriate interpretation for in-person attendees who need it. Check that any in-person venue you choose is physically accessible for all your attendees. If any aspect of your event is hard to navigate or understand for some attendees, it may prevent them from coming to your events in the future.
Networking capabilities: One reason that many people like in-person events is because of the aspect of human connection they provide. And even if you’re hosting an online event, choose a platform with a chat function that allows attendees to network and discuss the event on their own. Consider putting together an app that lets them connect both during and after the event.
Contactless check-in: Make check-in safe and stress-free with a contactless process. Send attendees an email with a QR code or barcode that they can pull up on their phones. This means you won’t need to organize a will-call and no one needs to worry about keeping track of physical tickets.
Sustainable aspects: Sustainability is becoming a concern for more and more people, and your attendees will likely want to see you making smart choices when it comes to your event. Instead of giving out lots of cheap branded merchandise that no one will use, think carefully about creating swag that will be meaningful to attendees and will be something they’ll use over and over. Do not use PET bottles, cans or plastic cups; instead work with your meeting or event facility to ensure the use of real glass, China cups and plates if possible. In addition, work with your venue to serve local, organic and seasonal food (which is often cheaper anyway) wherever possible. When you make a concentrated effort to make sustainable choices, your eco-conscious attendees will notice and appreciate it.
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