Top Live Event Trends – Our Forecast

by | Apr 28, 2022

We get asked a lot about possible trends that will impact the live events industry over the next few years. Answering that accurately can be as challenging as saying what’s going to happen in the stock market. But we’re always willing to give it a go. So below are eight factors or trends that we see as likely to have a significant impact on how events and tradeshows are conceived and managed.

1. We’ll start with COVID. Hopefully not a trend, but something that could continue to dramatically influence the types of events and audiences we’ll see in the next five years. The big question, of course, is will COVID morph into just another accepted risk – like riding in a car or the seasonal flu – or will it continue to remain an active threat?

2.  We expect to see greater use of AI and machine learning across marketing programs. Put simply AI is human-like behavior displayed by machines (think Alexa and Siri). Machine learning is a branch of AI – referring to systems that can analyze and learn from data, identifying patterns and responding to scenarios based on past behavior. And doing this with little or no human intervention. Put another way, these are tools that will help marketers figure out all the things they’d like to, but don’t or can’t now. The impact of AI and machine learning on events (and retail too) could play out lots of ways including:

  • Smarter modeling and segmentation of audiences by behavior thanks to better understanding of the signals that indicate purchase intent and the factors that drove past sales
  • More refined selections of shows to attend based on highest ROI opportunities
  • Better, automated personalization of communications – for instance pre-show marketing communications and how you respond to individual leads post-show
  • Greater use of ‘chatbot’ like applications in and around the show floor to offer audiences a wider variety of customized information, including communications in the language of their choice. This would help open programs up to more global audiences.
  • Better applications for measuring true ROI on event spend

3. We expect to see a continued move to more visual/video storytelling including more interactive, augmented and virtual reality content. Done right, it’s just better at engaging people. Possible applications in and around the show floor include more ‘explainer videos’ and demos, event recap videos, infographics, teaser videos and more event attendee generated content.

4. We expect marketers to continue to focus on creating more and better hybrid events – regardless of what COVID does – as they realize that the targets for any event can be both in-person and on-line. Done right, it just makes sense to extend your investment in content across a wider audience – resulting in a higher ROI on event spend. Along with this we also expect to see more marketers realize that in-person and online versions of an event don’t have to happen at the same time – and that online events can be repeated and/or on-demand.

5.  This trend has been around for years  – but we expect continued focus on creating more and better brand experiences for target audiences designed not just to sell, but to also create real emotional connections with brands. In short, making people like your brand, really like it.

6. Similarly, we also expect greater emphasis on more focused, organized and curated visitor journeys that guide attendees through a brand/product story vs. the “free for all” approach used at many shows.

7. Hand in hand with more and better experiences and curated journeys, we expect to see a greater interest in event and booth staff preparation. After all, marketers spend so much building and setting up the perfect booth, why shouldn’t they ensure their staff is equally ready? An increased focus on brand experiences and curated visitor journeys as predicted in 5 and 6 will only make staff preparation more important.

8.  And finally, we expect to see growing emphasis on more sustainable event programs to support overall corporate sustainability initiatives.

In conclusion, we’d like to say that when we anticipate any trend, we don’t just talk about it. We also gear up to help our customers adapt their programs accordingly. And the trends above are no exception. If you are interested in learning more, just let us know.