2023 brought fresh challenges and opportunities for the events industry, from a growing awareness around sustainability, diversity and inclusion, as well as the impact of rising event costs, AI and new technology, and it’s fair to say that it’s as dynamic a time as ever for eventprofs!
Going forwards, we’ve been keeping an eagle eye on the conversations happening in events, and we’re diving into all the exciting trends that we’ve seen making headway in the lead-up to the new quarter and year. From accessibility to event technology, here are our top predictions for corporate events in 2024!
Our Top 7 Trends
1. Experience-first events will lead the way
2. Event technology will continue to advance drastically
3. A drive in accessibility and inclusion across the industry
4. Continued drive on sustainability
5. In-person events dominating the market
6. Renewed focus on data and event measurement
7. Tighter budgets will require a more strategic approach to event programmes
Experience-first events will lead the way
Experience is becoming more and more essential, and this looks set to be a key trend for 2024. Gone are the days of people attending an event because it’s the only way to network, absorb content, or – let’s face it – get out of the office. With more competition than ever for event attendees, from increased numbers of events, to more options for attending virtually – and even with virtual reality in the Metaverse, your event has to offer something unique and exciting to draw guests.
2023 saw a huge focus on creating the best possible experiences for attendees, which in return offer clients tangible ROI and lead generation opportunities. Immersive, experiential events, pop-ups, brand activations, holding events in the Metaverse and the use of social media have all developed as unique methods of attendee engagement. And as we know, engagement is a hugely important metric – according to Markletic, 49% of marketers even said it was the single biggest contributing factor to event success.
We also saw a rise in searches on Hire Space last year for unusual venues, such as immersive gallery Frameless, the iconic Arcelormittal Orbit, and the new, ‘rev’olutionary F1 Arcade. The fact that these more unique venues are rising in popularity shows again that organisers are thinking outside the box to find new and inventive ways to engage their attendees and bring them along on their brand’s journey.
Hire Space Top Tip:
Try to turn every moment into an experience. You could add elements such as VR games, a digital social media wall, or even a unique catering experience. Event technology is constantly evolving, so use it to your advantage.
Want more inspiration?
Check out our piece ‘The Experiential Imperative: An Integrated Approach To Events As A Core Marketing Channel’ for more insights!
If you’re struggling for ideas on how to take your events to the next level, draft in the experts! Our experienced team will be happy to help, so get in touch.
Event technology will continue to advance drastically
Arguably the biggest trend of 2023, across all industries, was the advance of technology that’s expected to have a transformative impact on our lives. With AR, VR and AI tools starting to make their way into our daily work, event organisers are able now more than ever to create other-worldly, personalised experiences for their attendees, and to do so in less time than ever before. In fact, tools such as ChatGPT are being used across the scope of planning events, from writing business plans and content outlines, to drafting budgets and proposing speakers, as in this recent example of a futuristic event planned almost entirely by AI…
We’ve put together an in-depth guide exploring the impact of AI on events, and how eventprofs can harness it to help, rather than hinder their events. While AI can help to make event planning more efficient, it’s not effective without the knowledge and understanding of event professionals
However, other areas of event technology have taken a backseat compared to the rush of attention around AI. Despite significant hype around The Metaverse in recent years, there have been few examples of virtual events really investing in the online environment and making it as lifelike and organic as possible. This is something we expect to see growing significantly in 2024, however, as we start harnessing AI to make it easier to create truly interactive virtual experiences, where matchmaking is seamless, and chatbots can help to make the experience as slick as attending in person for all attendees, wherever they are in the world.
We’ve put together an in-depth piece on how event technology is evolving, so be sure to check that out for more inspiration on how you can apply evolving technology to your brand to create outstanding events.
A drive in accessibility and inclusion across the industry
One of the most positive things we observed in 2023 wass a higher priority placed on ensuring events are accessible and inclusive to all individuals. This is reflected in the AMEX Global Event Trends Forecast, where 87% of respondents said their organisations actively strive to incorporate DE&I into their meetings and events. This is something we’re feeling really confident will be as much of a focus in 2024, with more events taking a wider range of attendees into account.
At many event in 2023, we were delighted to see that automatic closed captioning was being used on many of the stages, with quiet sensory rooms being set aside for attendees to use to take a break from the hectic show floors. One of the panels Hire Space hosted at Confex 2023 delved into the topic of invisible disabilities in events and how we can be more inclusive and supportive of our colleagues and guests whose needs aren’t immediately apparent.
“For organisations to maximise return on investment including attendance, they need to be inclusive and have a clear charter in terms of diversity. It is one of the key criteria that meeting owners and delegates will consider in the future – if they’re not already today.”
Patrick Rush, Senior Regional Director of Asia Pacific, American Express Meetings & Events
It’s essential that planners have the tools and knowledge to be able to deliver events that offer the same opportunities to everyone, no matter the different needs they may have. That’s why we’ve put together a full guide on accessibility for eventprofs, with input from some of our fantastic partners and leaders on disability awareness in the industry. Check it out to make a positive change!
Whether it’s avoiding unconscious bias in the speaker selection process, ensuring your chosen venue is truly accessible, or being hyper-aware of the language used in communications, there are so many areas we can improve on to facilitate better experiences for everyone.
As well as inclusive events, we’re also starting to see more of a focus on ensuring recruitment processes offer equal opportunities to all, and that there is diverse representation across businesses and events teams. This is something we predict will become more ingrained in events going forwards, and it’s high time event organisers became the driving force for change in businesses. Check out our conversation on inclusion in the events industry with Event First Steps for more!
« There isn’t an end destination with accessibility. It’s a journey, realising we’re always going to be learning, making mistakes, and getting better. » Isaac Harvey
Continued drive on sustainability
The past couple of years have seen the climate crisis and sustainability soar to the top of the agenda for the events industry, with ICE’s 2022 report showing that sustainability was the top challenge reported by respondents. No longer just a ‘nice to have’, the industry is making huge leaps towards making events sustainable for their clients and this will continue to be a huge driver this coming year.
It’s no easy feat, though: according to GBTA’s June 2022 Sustainability Report, 90% of organisations said they required professional guidance in their sustainability journey. But the organisation’s 2023 report showed that action is being taken, with 71% of travel buyers and suppliers saying that they now have a sustainability supervisor or team in the company, which is 5% higher than last year.
We’re finding more and more as time goes by that clients are asking for sustainability policies and accreditation for venues – a positive sign of things to come, we think (check out our guidance on finding a sustainable venue to start)!
And for event organisers wondering where to start, help is at hand: there are so many small things that we can all do as event organisers to reduce the impact events have on our planet. From plant-based menus to making venues more sustainable, there are many ways to make a start on the journey with your next event.
“For venues, if you’re not sure where to start with sustainability, start with your staff. Make sure you’re empowering the people in your team to make the decisions that matter.” – Kate Simpson, Business Design Centre
Need some guidance on making your businesses and events more sustainable? We’ve put together a whole content hub with practical tips and advice, from the best sustainability tools for eventprofs to how businesses can set measurable objectives around sustainability for their events.
In-person events dominating the market
In line with our forecasts, while we saw a few examples of virtual events in 2023, in-person events have been overwhelmingly the preferred option for businesses. According to Meeting & Group Business magazine, 2023 was set to be the in-person events market’s « strongest year ever », and the 2023 AMEX Global Event Trends Forecast reported « booming optimism and focus on in-person meetings and events ».
That’s been reflected by what our clients are looking for, with over 95% of events booked through Hire Space being fully in-person this year. That said, hybrid events have still kept their head in the door, especially as events with a virtual option can increase brand reach significantly and allow international attendees to avoid the hefty travel costs we’re seeing in the current economic climate.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen many venues become hybrid-ready for this very reason. Having spoken to many of our London-based hybrid venues, it appears the market’s appetite for meeting in person, with the option of tuning in virtually, has remained relatively high in the first half of this year. It seems most people would still prefer to attend physically though. According to Markletic, 72% of respondents said they’d get more value out of attending a hybrid event in person.
Renewed focus on data and event measurement
Measuring the impact of events has become more essential than ever as we fight to prove ROI and the importance of events as a marketing channel. The biggest trend we’ve seen around this has been a renewed focus on data collection, which can be used to analyse the success of events and make adjustments for future events.
Working with our friends at Explori, we’ve put together a guide to collecting, processing, and using your data to draw really valuable insights – it’s a good place to start with strengthening your events programme in 2024! You can also have a look at our round up of digital tools that can help to measure the impact of your events.
Technology is really driving the ability to make stronger insights from events. Platforms such as Arena, Cadence and Brella can be used to draw insights around audience engagement at virtual events, while for in-person events we’re beginning to see a proliferation of wearable tech like Bluetooth wristbands, and built-in tech such as facial-recognition cameras that track eye movements and calculate engagement with content.
“The fact that so many industry professionals are struggling to gather the right data from their in-person events is a concern – especially given how many respondents highlighted the incredible value they place on data.
Through a more focused approach and the use of integrated technology solutions, planners can better support data capture to deliver robust reporting with powerful insights.” Anita Howard, CEO and Founder of ICE
Tighter budgets require a more strategic approach to event programmes
With event costs rising by 40-60% across catering and more, it’s no secret that thanks to the cost of living crisis, budgets were under the microscope in 2023, and this scrutiny isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s estimated that the average cost per attendee was 32% higher compared to 2019 levels last year… When it comes to venue pricing, a strategic approach is crucial.
When it comes to making a case for events to stakeholders, businesses will need to ensure their events are aligned with their company objectives. It’s become more important than ever to prove genuine ROI from events as cost vs return remains a large concern for the sector. Hire Space hosted a panel on ‘The Events Outlook: Optimising Business Event Programmes For 2023 and Beyond’ in May, which saw a panel of senior planners and market research experts discuss where events were heading and how eventprofs could protect their programmes.
We also delved into strategies for event planning against a backdrop of tighter purse strings with four industry experts, in our series on industry insights. Read their advice on navigating the impact of inflation to make sure you’re equipped for the lasting effects of 2023’s crunch.
Hire Space Top Tip:
If you need some help with developing a bespoke events programme that aligns with your company goals and generates tangible ROI, Hire Space 360 is your one stop shop. We’ll take care of everything, including consolidated billing, digitised contracting, venue and supplier sourcing, and full-service event management, so get in touch to chat to our experts today.
We believe these trends will continue to drive our thriving industry and we’re feeling optimistic about the future. And it’s not just us: according to the 2023 AMEX Global Event Trends Forecast, 75% of event professionals rated their optimism levels at 8 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10, which is an increase from 2021 (59%). It’s reassuring to see we’re heading in the right direction following a tough few years.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on other top trends and predictions you may have for this year. Be sure to follow us on social media to stay part of the conversation as we navigate 2024 together!