by Devin Carver , , , , , , April 11th, 2018

The sign of a job well done in the experience planning industry is the ability to connect with attendees in a unique way at a special event, corporate meeting, or incentive program. So how do event professionals connect to attendees in those unique ways? How is success ensured? Like many successful industries, part of that creative success comes after identifying what’s trending and how you can fit it in to your next special event or corporate meeting plans. The tricky thing about identifying what’s trending and implementing it is that trends can come and go quicker than your timeline. But no need to worry. To help get you started, we’ve identified a few evergreen trends you may be able to work into your next corporate event or meeting in order to engage attendees, boost their happiness, and therefore, drive success. If these aren’t a part of your conversation now, they will be, and they’re not going anywhere!

Trend: Farm Fresh and Colorful

One thing you can trust to bring people together is a great meal—especially today, when the world is obsessed with sharing their aesthetically pleasing plates on social media.  When attendees dedicate their time to a corporate event or meeting, they like to feel like they’re getting something extra out of the experience. By providing Instagram-worthy and hunger-satisfying meals and/or snacks, you’re creating one more way for attendees to both connect to your experience and share it with those not physically at the event. Also important? Farm fresh. But this isn’t a new trend. For the past decade, farm to table concepts have been taking over the event world. Although, in recent years, it’s not as simple as farm fresh and locally sourced. Attendees want to experience the cuisine in a way that connects them to their plate. Try some new concepts, such as listing the farmer or producer of the food sourced, bringing in the farmer or the chef to talk about their involvement in the dish, or trying “Farm to Shaker” cocktails.

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Trend: The Digital Platform & Artificial Intelligence

While the internet and everything technology driven seems like it’s constantly changing, it isn’t going anywhere. Any digital space you could utilize for interaction or engagement purposes aren’t going anywhere either. It is, however, important to not be rushed when thinking about moving some aspects of a corporate event, incentive program, or meeting online. Make sure everything is thought out, from hashtags to webinars, in order to minimize risk of any technical difficulties or mix-ups. Need a little help getting started on planning in the digital world? Check out some suggestions here.

Also coming fast and furious? Artificial intelligence. Chatbots, concierge apps, robots, and deep learning should all be a part of your conversations for those event professionals willing to embrace innovation. AI will soon transform the events business, from customer support to event management and marketing. Robots may soon be a part of your concierge services—anywhere from robots scanning your attendee’s badges and helping guide them to their next breakout to serving entertainment purposes.

Trend: Unique Venue Space

The purpose of holding unique events or meetings is to make attendees feel like they’re not at the office, just another trade show, or conference. As even professionals, it’s your job to truly transport attendees into an experience they’ll remember forever, and the best way to do so is by using creative surroundings. From flying attendees to unique places like Iceland to making the most out of shipping-container like spaces—or even renting out the Alcatraz island—the possibilities are endless. If you really want to creatively engage event attendees, use their surroundings to immerse them in a one-of-a-kind atmosphere.

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Trend: Interesting Installations & Interaction

Much like an art exhibit, smaller installations that play to the theme of the event have the ability to catch the eye of attendees, letting them engage with the corporate event on a deeper level. Using an interesting, smaller installation also paves a path to work with artists and entertainment that you may want to connect with for different events further down the road. Check out some unique examples here.

As we know, it’s all about experience. What’s a great way to engage attendees and design an experience? Interactive décor. Try a giant pin-board (for those of us old enough, think Lite-Brite); touch-screen, walkable floor boards; group art; or interactive walls. Are your attendees not a fan of getting out of their seats? Try bringing the outdoors in with indoor parks or bringing in a marching band.

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Trend: Prioritize Diversity & Access

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but ensuring there is diversity across entertainment, speakers, panelists, attendees, and planners is crucial to ensuring true success at a corporate event. In order to connect to all types of people, all types of people need to be involved in the planning and production. By including an equal balance of people of all races, genders, ages, and abilities, you’re not only practicing good business practices, but you’re also bettering your chances at engaging with every person at every event. Learn more about why diversity matters at Bishop-McCann.

We encourage all event professionals to take these trends into consideration when planning their next unique experience. To share your success from these trends with us and other event profs, tag us on Twitter or Instagram using #EventTrends.

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