Before you can take an industry by storm, you need to understand where the massive weather system is going. Every market has its own trends that are leading the way through a dark tunnel, and the event and exhibition industry is no different.
State of the industry
The event and exhibition industry will become more crowded, and thereby, more competitive over the next few years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the event planning industry is projected to grow by 44 percent between 2010 and 2020.
We're already halfway through the decade and the predictions are shaping up to be correct. A plethora of new technology and even newer planners has made the industry that much more competitive. Those who take advantage of the new practices available will reap the reward of having a truly unique event – and ultimately receive the largest ROI.
What should your events be focused around?
There are three major goals that should be in mind as you organize your event; return on investment, attendee engagement and using burgeoning technology to the best of your advantage. The statistics support the integration of all three at some capacity.
Cvent recently found that 67 percent of CMOs believe ROI has become the top factor when deciding whether an event was successful or not. While events are put on to generate brand and product exposure, nothing in the business world can be done for free. Event planners must figure out some way to generate ROI, whether it be through registration, sponsorship or some other form. This will become the main selling point for event planners moving forward.
Moving away from the business point of view, Guidebook reported 86 percent of event organizers believe attendee satisfaction and engagement are key to determining the success of an event. This should be closer to 100 percent, as it has long been the mantra. If attendees aren't enjoying themselves, what is the event really doing? As experiential events become more popular, organizers will have more ways to get attendees to interact with the show. Virtual and augmented reality will play a huge role in this, and should be considered moving forward.
In the same vein, Cvent found that the inclusion of technology at an event can have measurable impacts – it increases attendance by 20 percent, improves worker and staff production by 27 percent and reduces the amount of budget needed to be spent on the event by as much as 30 percent. Look for any and every opportunity moving forward to include some sort of technology, whether it be as a means of productivity through smart apps, or even a light show that gives a different persona to the event than just regular lighting.
How are you marketing your event?
By now every event marketer should be using social media and email as means of spreading his or her message. They're more efficient than sending out flyers and handwritten letters, and the ceiling they garner in terms of views is incredibly high. One tweet can go viral in an instant, which can result in many more views than a poster on the street.
"Use social media during the event to generate live discussion."
If you're on social media, then you know to tweet or post messages on Facebook to build hype before the event – but how do you use it during the exhibition? According to eMarketer, nearly 58 percent of marketers and planners use social media during the event to generate live discussion. This keeps it from getting old, and generates more hype for the years following. It's all a part of building an event brand. If attendees see you're communicating during the event – and how much fun other attendees are having – it will surely generate some interest.
Live tweeting can be done by asking questions or holding a contest, and is a sure-fire way to gain higher engagement levels.
Don't take these statistics lightly – they show what trends are in right now and how they're effecting successful events. To move forward in a crowded industry, you have to harness what everyone else is using and make it your own. Take these statistics and see how they can help you plan your next event.