2020 Event Trends Shaping Attendee Experience

Every year, we see innovation and development within the events industry. In order to succeed in this exciting and dynamic industry, it’s important for organizers to keep their fingers on the pulse of attendees’ expectations and make adjustments to meet them. 

Because the industry is constantly growing and evolving, each year is an opportunity to try new methods and learn from successes. Over the last year, we’ve seen organizers take note of consumer trends and apply them within events. From leveraging mobile technology to staying atop of environmental best practices, we think organizers will continue to learn from their attendees. With this in mind, here are the top three trends shaping attendee experience in 2020.

Sustainability will remain important

We saw an increased focus on sustainability within the events industry, and expect that this focus will only continue to increase into 2020.

“During the second half of 2019, I spoke to more organizers asking for an app so they could reduce their paper consumption and waste,” said Conor Zindroski, a member of Guidebook’s sales team. 

From choosing a mobile app to reduce paper waste to selecting green venues – in 2020 sustainable options will remain a hot topic. 

What’s driving this? We’re seeing more companies across industries actively integrate sustainability into their business, according to a recent study by McKinsey. This shift is driven both by economic factors as well as shifts in consumer attitudes and expectations. 

Action for organizers:

Planers should think about sustainability in every aspect of their event planning. Look for sustainable venues, communication, vendors like food & beverage, and furniture rentals. Incorporating sustainability from early on is essential to achieving a green event. 

Attendee personalization will be key

Personalization will become more important within the event industry. Because consumers have more choice than ever, it’s increasingly important for brands to engage them as individuals. 

A recent study by Salesforce reinforces how important personalization is as we move into 2020. 84% of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business. Further, delivering personalized experiences drives customer loyalty, with 70% of consumers saying a company’s understanding of their individual needs influences their loyalty (Salesforce). 

This attitude is shaping how event organizers plan events. Whether through content tracks within a larger event or in small events – attendees want to feel like they are seen and heard. 

Action for organizers:

Large events see a wide range of attendees. We expect to see planners place a higher emphasis on connecting with their attendees as individuals and giving those individuals the ability to personalize their experiences.

Thematic tracks within a larger conference give your attendees a personalized agenda to guide their experience. Pair tracks with the ability to tailor a schedule with a schedule builder, like Guidebook’s, and you’ll successfully enhance the event experience from a generic one into a personalized experience. 

Personalization is important in small events, too. Breakout sessions and small group discussions are key ways to break away from a day of sessions. Provide your attendees with the opportunity to choose from a couple of breakouts, which makes attendees feel more involved and invested in their experience. 

Mastering the art of mass personalization in 2020 will lead to more successful events. 

Venues will get more interesting … and so will locations

It appears that many are growing tired of the traditional conference experience.  53% of planners surveyed said moving away from hotel venues and to more unique venues was the biggest location trend of 2020, according to a recent survey of event planners.

In addition to shake-ups in venues, we expect to see new cities rise in popularity. Here at Guidebook, we saw more events planned for mid-sized cities like Portland and Denver than in past years. We expect that trend to continue in the same direction. 

Action for organizers:

Thinking about moving your next event to a unique venue? Keep in mind a few things:

Your event venue should make sense for your brand.

While a night club may sound like an awesome venue, it might not be right for all audiences. As you research interesting venues, keep your audience in mind. 

Your event venue may require additional vendors. 

Keep in mind – one of the beauties of working with a hotel as an event venue is that many vendors, such as food and furniture, can be contracted through the venue. If you’re looking at a non-traditional venue, you may need to find and contract your own vendors, so start planning early!

With these in mind and planned for, your first event in 2020 may be your most memorable! 

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