Live events are surging back, experiencing fantastic and record registration numbers as people are eager to get back to shaking hands, socializing, and enjoying the interaction of an in-person event. As event planners, we have been experiencing this since mid-Q3 of 2022, and it did not take long to realize that attendee enthusiasm for in-person events was strong. Moving into 2023, event planners have taken notice and are being supported by leadership teams, to really design something exceptional for their attendees. To get you pointed in the right direction as you design your next conference, here are our Top 3 things every conference should have for 2023.
#1 The Event Experience
We won’t lie – attendees admittedly got very comfortable attending conferences from the comfort of their own home. On the attendee side it was a nice little break from constant travel and shaking hands. On the planner side it was interesting to learn more about event technology, planning software, apps, live streams, etc. The result however is that attendees now want it all as they return to in-person events, and planners need to make sure they keep this in mind when designing programs.
On one side this means unique venues with immersive decor, over the top food or entertainment offerings, experiential events, brand pop-ups, sponsor activations, plenty of networking and opportunities to socialize. On the other side this means event apps with real time updates and notifications, an engaging program that connects to the event website, with downloadable content of livestream sessions. Online scheduling, appointment setting, attendee connection functions, and the list really goes on.
Bottom line: Organizers are thinking outside the box to find new and inventive ways to engage attendees’ interest, and get them excited to register and attend an event.
Photo: Gabor Ekecs
#2 Tech Integration
Simply put – your event tech has to be right.
Not only is the expectation that a part of the overall event experience includes the ability to engage and connect online, but it has to be easy and effortless as well.
From registration, event check-in and agenda management to networking and meetings, all steps should flow smoothly. The website has to work, the event info has to be current, photos, videos, links, downloadable content all need to be hi-res, well-produced, relevant and easy to access.
And do not overlook the importance of your event tech stack. Test the functionality of your widgets embedded on the event website or app and to ensure they work well. Make learning new apps simple by offering quick tutorials or instructions upon arrival or via pre-event communications. And AB-SOL-UTELY have an onsite event troubleshooting desk that is open, accessible and easy to find throughout the entire conference.
#3 Social Connections
As you are designing your event program do not overlook the underlying catalyst that is driving this in-person event surge. The inherent human desire for connection and interaction was stifled for almost 2 years, and has resulted in a tremendous amount of pent up energy that is being unleashed. This means planning for lots of opportunities for focused networking, social interactions through micro-events or thoughtful venue floor plan design. Merge intentional moments like sponsor activations mixed with live music, so that people are upbeat and the likelihood of lead generation increases. Use entertainment, unique venues, interesting spaces, art, food, wellness and other event components to draw people together, get them talking, interacting, sharing, and connecting.
Attendees are looking for more and more ways to interact with the event before, during and after, and are seeking out these opportunities whether you build them into your event or not. If these elements are not on offer, or at least mentioned as part of the overall event experience, you may risk losing their valuable and fleeting attention.
Stay tuned for more event trends, tricks and pro-tips all year long as we bring you more great industry content to help you design your best event ever. Or for focused help, reach out to our Toast of the Town event pro’s anytime by Contacting Us here or to find More Info here.