Spotlight on Meetings and Conventions
Trends and tips: 2017 event hacks you can actually implement today
Another year is coming to an end. While the headlines will inevitably cover the next big things in event technology, design, F&B and marketing, we thought we’d get back to basics and list a few practical and simple tips you can actually use for your 2017 events.
Event engagement gets real
Gone are the days when a meeting, convention, conference or tradeshow were one-dimensional networking events. In today’s landscape, time-strapped people (read: attendees) are looking for meaningful social connections that actually bring value to the table.
Impactful attendee engagement requires a multi-pronged strategy that is planned and carried out way before, during and after an event takes place. Event websites, mobile apps and social media take on an entirely new dimension when they are developed to go past “simply” pushing information to an audience—and actually initiate conversations and networking among attendees. Data analytics up the ante even further by leveraging the power of technology to drive relevant information and messaging to event participants based on their profiles.
Engagement is synonymous with perceived value and personalization. For your next event, devise a 360-degree marketing strategy that incorporates online, offline and on-site initiatives that build a community.
For example, turn to your audio visual representatives to find out what types of technology can capture attendees’ attention and keep their eyes on the presenter—rather than their smartphones--during a presentation. Research on different event gamification techniques that your peers have successfully used in the past. Looking to add social media to your marketing mix, but unsure as to the best approach? Rely on the expertise of local social media specialists to help you select the right platforms and create a compelling editorial calendar.
The whole point is to go beyond creating memories with your event’s destination, after-hour activities and delicious food and deliver business value to your attendees.
Content is king. Technology is its servant.
Audio visual technology plays an important role in any event. However, technology cannot trump content. In fact, you can have all the event tech bells and whistles you want, but if the content your delivering is useless, irrelevant and lacking depth, all your tech investments will be for naught.
Let’s be clear. Event content is not just about a speaker’s topic or a few social shares here and there. Event content is the wide variety of well-oiled value-packed information that attendees pay to come your event. Technology is the vehicle that makes it come alive. For example, if your social media networks remain light on relevant content and regular postings, why bother creating them in the first place? If your event app or website does little more give the same details as a what can be found in a print guide, did you get the bang for the buck? Will live streaming your event be worth the investment if nobody shows up to watch the show?
Before going all out on the tech, get back to brass tacks and hone out your content marketing strategy, which should factor in your attendee personas and what content they crave, as well as a feasible, realistic editorial timeline that starts months before your event and lasts weeks after it ends.
Once your content marketing strategy is ready, then you can speak with your tech and audio visual suppliers to determine what options you have to deliver your content in the most powerful way possible.
Gourmet comfort and nostalgia
For the past few years, F&B suppliers have been going out of their way to concoct a dazzling array of dining experiences based on international fusion, mashups, molecular cuisine, locally produced fare and healthy eating.
F&B trends are celebrating nostalgia: gourmet comfort food that pays tribute to our childhoods and the slow food movement. Say sayonara to pomp and circumstance and say hello to authenticity and simplicity. This does not mean that good ol’ classics cannot be reinvented; after all, an event’s F&B nevertheless need to generate sensorial and memorable experiences for attendees. The difference resides in your suppliers’ interpretation of gourmet comfort food.
Looking to get onto the comfort food bandwagon? The importance here is to above all remember your attendees’ demographics and your event’s location. That way, after a bit of research, you can marry traditional comfort food from different areas around the world with local produce. For example, your F&B suppliers may want to create a unique twist on an American Mac n’ Cheese dish (using local cheeses), a fresh take on traditional Asian curries (made with local meats), or fish and chips (featuring Canadian fish).
Décor by nature
A 2017 event trend article cannot be complete without talking about event décor. While vintage décors seem to be a trend of the past, 2017 will be all about rusticity and nature. Raw materials and organic matter (think a smorgasbord of flowers and plants) will take centre stage.
Décors will steer clear of overly austere modern and perfect concepts; rather, they will immerse event attendees in soothing, casual and earthy atmospheres. Again, event designs are aligned with F&B in giving attendees a touch of realism and sensibility.
For your next event décor, consider the region surrounding your host city and find ways to incorporate elements that highlight its natural landscapes. The key, however, is to be subtle. The last thing you want is a décor that is reminiscent of the Jungle Book or Daniel Boon.
The upcoming year is promising to be one in which planners can focus on the true core of their events and remain grounded in their choices for tech, F&B, décor to craft unforgettable—yet authentic—experiences. Are you ready for 2017?