What conference trends can you expect still in 2019 and for 2019? The past two years have been packed with change and innovation in the events industry. Recently, we’ve seen personalisation, immersion, and interaction become the driving forces of all event types. New technologies have quickly made inroads into trade shows, conferences, and meetings all around the world. Many of these technologies are likely to become a mainstay of event management. Their use is set to accelerate once 5G networks become fully functional. While this happens, event professionals are facing constant change, so it pays off to be familiar with the trends with the most potential for transformation.
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Conference Trends 1: Event Technology For A Superior Delegate Experience
Creating memorable delegate experiences that balance face-to-face and virtual elements are a priority in modern meeting planning. The key is to use technology meaningfully, so it doesn’t become intimidating.
Event technology has enormous potential to remove friction points. For example, face recognition facilitates the smooth registration and check-in process. Create delegate-centric experiences with wearables (which act as personal concierges) or chatbots (which answer delegate questions on the spot). You can also think of push notifications, which deliver personalised agenda suggestions or subject-specific learning tracks. Likewise, interactions can grow more sophisticated with artificial intelligence, for instance, via matchmaking apps that use Big Data to increase the effectiveness of networking.
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Trend 2: Experiential Meetings
Experiential meeting design is here to stay. Not only because more and more organisers realise the impact of using sensory channels to deliver information and create immersive and hyper-relevant conferences. Soon, we’re likely to see a boom in the use of virtual reality-enhanced experiences. Examples are escape rooms or scavenger hunts. The future of meeting planning and design will pivot on combining experiential learning and gamification. Every aspect of the event can be experienced first hand with a focus on problem-solving through hands-on teamwork.
Trend 3 to watch in 2019 and 2020: Well-being
The concept of bleisure is transforming business events. Bleisure reflects the changing demands of conference delegates and the importance of balancing business and leisure as an integral part of the event’s identity. Key trends in this regard prioritise well-being and include the use of outdoor venues and outdoor activities before, during, and after the event; and the inclusion of creative activities (e.g. ceramic workshops, cooking lessons, or guided tours of the destination city).
Trend 4: Sustainability and Catering
Food sustainability is an opportunity for organisers to differentiate their event. Foods and beverage choices will increasingly be made to minimise impact and maximise enjoyment. Some trends to be aware of include:
- Choosing suppliers who favour locally sourced and seasonal ingredients.
- Experiential dining with on-site food preparation and pop-up restaurants at the event venue.
- Catering to special dietary requirements, such as gluten-free, plant-based, and dairy or lactose-free.
- Rethinking the use of FOMO (fear of missing out). This concept can help present events as a not-to-be-missed experience, but it often results in ordering excessive amounts of food and beverages. Instead, 21st-century conferences will plan around crucial sustainability principles, like reducing waste and making ethical supply-chain management decisions.
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Last but not least, conference trends 5: Creative Meeting Room Design
Innovative room design can facilitate networking and improve information processing. While in the past, design considerations were more of an afterthought among conference planners, now they’re increasingly perceived as a key element of the event experience. Key trends to watch include:
- Seating layouts that encourage attendee interaction (e.g. semi-circle style).
- Green spaces, indoor gardens, living walls, and water features.
- Multi-functional and minimalist furniture to facilitate brainstorming and group activities.
Over the next couple of years, event planning is set to become increasingly delegate-centric in terms of format, content, and layout. Innovation, relevance and personalisation will be embedded into the experience and eventually shape the meeting and event industry. Get in touch with Congrex to find out how to incorporate these trends into your next conference.
Congrex Switzerland is an internationally operating agency delivering customised solutions. This encompasses the overall organisation of conferences and meetings, including the management of hotel rooms and the strategic consultancy. Annually Congrex Switzerland organises approximately 45 events with over 73’000 delegates. Amongst our clients are international associations, governmental organisations and corporations.