In-person meetings and events came back in 2022 faster and at a higher level than predicted, and for 2023 there is anticipation that in-person meetings, as well as the number of attendees at those meetings, will rise to pre-covid levels in event industry.
According to research by Amex, 87% of meetings are expected to have an in-person component. With demand returning faster than ever, it is hard to wear strategic lenses all the time when client needs are right in front of you. Emerging stronger than ever in 2023 will take a strategic focus for companies to keep the balance of the tactical while planning for the big picture.
Event planning cycles start early, and busy event organizers are looking toward the event trends that will capture attendees’ imaginations – and revenue.
The most creative events have engaging experiences that bring people together. So how do you get your event to stand out from the crowd? Here are some of the top event industry trends for 2023 that will help give you the edge:
The Art of What’s Possible: VR Event Experience
Event technology is constantly changing and improving, so it is no surprise that it’s a major trend for 2023. With the advancements of AI, AR and VR in recent years, event organizers can now create fully immersive and personalized experiences for their attendees. And the AR and VR event industry is only going to get bigger – according to Marketing Insider Group, it is forecasted to grow by over 25% over the next two years.
While VR has been around for a few years, it can certainly help to engage your event attendees and enhance their experience (at a recent conference I took a stomach-dropping helicopter ride around Maui). You can be transported to another world, and it can also be used for virtual tours and games. However, AR is taking over as the most popular technology, mainly because it’s easily accessible and offers more flexibility in the real world. While VR is about creating a virtual world, AR adds digital elements to the real-world environment. It also offers a huge range of possibilities because AR apps can be used on any smartphone. AR can be used for interactive product demonstrations, to help attendees learn more about each other, to create interactive venue maps, and provide entertainment. For example, guests can interact with trade show booths and branded conferences through elements like educational pop-ups and customizable games.
Instagram Worthy Venues
Few event attendees go home from an event and brag about the meeting room or convention center. To create a buzz, ensure the venue makes an amazing first impression. There are many modern options for nontraditional venue spaces. In fact, research by Social Tables shows that over 90% of event planners agree that events are more likely to be booked in a nontraditional venue than five years ago. And there are advantages to thinking outside the box when it comes to planning where to have your event. Not only is a visually appealing venue more engaging for attendees, but it also encourages people to post images of the event on social media.
Hotels are getting in line with this trend and thinking about how they can meet this need for more inspiring surroundings with non-traditional spaces such as rooftops and outdoor venues, or simply offering more options when it comes to event design and styling. Not only are these spaces interesting, but the event gives guests the chance to experience the space in a new and different way.
Work Hard, Play Harder
Who says work can’t be fun? Whether you have hula-hoop dancers spinning through the air in breathtaking feats of stunning choreography or living statues pointing the way around the venue, attendees will not only remember the event, but engaging activities also bring people together. And they will undoubtedly share everything on social media, spreading the word about the event.
Other options for entertainment include art activations. I recently attended a conference where over the space of three days, a giant mural was painted – promoting the venue and host city for the next year’s conference. Or at another event, we created our very own art by painting vases – that take were shipped back home for us. There really are so many ways that you can make your event memorable and fun. The possibilities are endless.
Attendees expect more from meetings and conventions than ever before, and mindfulness and wellness are becoming essential components of any event or conference. And particularly after two years of lockdown and covid uncertainty, you can expect to see more events incorporating mindfulness and wellness activities into their schedule. Meditation and yoga workshops and massage stations are extremely popular recent conference highlights. Other ideas include dedicated “brain breaks” designed to inspire creativity, “unplugged” tech-free zones and other sessions designed around health and wellness.
When it comes to food, healthier meal choices are not only popular, but they are proven to increase concentration. Instead of a pastry snack, a superfoods smoothie will keep attendees energized throughout the day. Pick a catering company that has healthy options – and guests love locally produced fare.
Keep your eye on the prize
Event ROI and attendee experience are key. With event demand, attendee expectations, staffing shortages, prices on the rise, and technology changing faster than ever, the struggle is real when it comes to thinking about your event strategy. The noise, the demand and the expectations can easily keep planners from being able to focus on the strategic wins that allow them to scale and lay the foundation for the future. The exciting event industry trends mentioned above will certainly wow and delight your attendees, but what can you do to lay the foundation and ensure that your event technology stack is future-proofed?
A strategic event commission payment solution is one that will give you hours back in your day to focus on the attendee experience. Commission reconciliation, payments and around the block tracking are all areas of tremendous opportunities when you think about how to get back to planning the perfect event and not focusing on the administration side of it. That’s where GroupPay can help.
Payments solution for the meeting and event industry, built by Meeting & Event professionals
GroupPay powered by Onyx CenterSource is an industry-first commission payments automation platform that provides hotels and meeting professionals unparalleled transparency and efficiency to track and proactively manage their event commissions.
If you want to create an unforgettable event or conference, then you don’t want to spend too much time (or worry) dealing with commission payments. If you have the right technology in place, you will not only save time and reduce overhead costs, but you will also be able to collect commissions faster, manage demand with actionable insights, and, ultimately, improve your partner relationships. Learn more about GroupPay.