We love events because they are exciting, bring together community, and each one is unique in its own way. That being said, we’re feeling 22 and couldn’t help ourselves when it came to sharing the top 10 event trends to expect this year.
#1 Virtual / Hybrid Events Are Here To Stay
Born out of necessity in early 2020, the quick switch to virtual events was the business world’s response to keeping the wheels of industry moving. Now two years in, that data is clear – virtual/hybrid events work! Attendance and engagement are up, fundraising dollars have grown, sponsor support is off the charts, and the overall attendee takeaway is GIVE ME MORE!
#2 Companies Will Continue to Invest in Technology
On the backs of the continued virtual/hybrid event trend, companies are realizing they can produce their annual meetings, multi-day conferences, organization fundraisers, etc., far more affordably than the typical in-person event. Companies have seen the ROI of the virtual/hybrid event and are now more willing to invest in the key technology components needed to internally produce events that are more engaging, more efficiently.
#3 Content Is King & Companies Are Banking On It
Many attest the strength of virtual/hybrid events to the quality and quantity of content that is not only made FOR an event, but also made FROM an event. Event marketers are no strangers to the slick event highlight reel or heart-string pulling campaign appeal video. But reports have shown that attendees are logging in repeatedly to consume the event recording as well. Whether they read the new blog, download the accompanying pdf, enter their email for the monthly newsletter, and so on. This will result in two ongoing trends in 2022 — #1 being organizations investing in the accelerated creation of quality content, and #2 content being available on-demand, before, during, and after an event.
#4 Virtual/Hybrid Events Will Target The Entire Marketing Funnel
The additional value of ongoing content leads to our fourth trend for 2022 and the value of the full-funnel event. As companies are realizing, the more you can engage your customer, the more likely they are to support your cause, your product, and your company as a whole. This heightened ability to interact with the customer, practically in real-time, and across multiple touchpoints and multiple points during the typical event cycle has led to the realization that communicating with the customer now has created an open-ended and mutually beneficial relationship. The result is the ability to market to a customer year-round, not just during event day, and when done right we have found them to be more receptive than ever.
#5 In-Person Events Will Return
Now don’t get us wrong here – while we love virtual events, and think they are here for the long run, it would be a mistake to say in-person events are done for good. In fact far from it, and we anticipate seeing a surge of in-person events in Spring/Summer ’22 and well beyond. Let’s face it – people want to gather again! Some really want to gather again, and can’t wait for the next buffet line, cocktail reception, or simple handshake. In-person events will likely look a bit different for some time, but they will make a strong return this year.
#6 Safety Is Paramount
If in 2020 we ran from Covid, and in 2021 we emerged from Covid, then 2022 will see us all moving forward from Covid. Not in the sense it no longer is a concern, but more in the sense of ‘been there – done that’, and we now know how to manage covid. Expect to see a plethora of safety protocols in place for most of the year – touchless check-ins, onsite medical personnel, grab-and-go food options, networking ‘pods’ for small group interactions, unique gathering spaces separated by aesthetically pleasing ‘barriers’ (less plexiglass & more potted plants), increased use of outdoor space, and more we’re sure. 2022 is less about running from covid, and much more about living (and thriving) with covid.
#7 Accessibility Will Be Key
While our optimism may be out in front of us on the in-person event resurgence, (we can’t wait to get back to designing gala’s again!), not everyone is as ready to ’emerge’ as we are. That’s why organizations and event planners are planning to offer a multitude of options for attendees to access an event. A kind of ‘Choose-your-Own-Adventure’ type experience if you will. Think of one event with multiple options for both in-person AND virtual sessions. Not only does this allow for those less likely to attend in-person to still participate, but also creates freedom for those who want to experience it all. An attendee can join a presentation in-person, physically connect with others in the room, and still watch other sessions digitally and on-demand back in the hotel room. It’s a true win-win for all involved.
#8 Safe, Separated & Tranquil
Turning to how we observe these trends affecting event design in 2022, we see a careful approach to gathering in-person and using design to attract people in very welcoming and subtle ways. Venues will be set up to explore by creating micro-zones that are perfect for smaller groups, separated from the main event, and provide a calm and tranquil respite from the larger gathering spaces. This will provide opportunities for attendees to return to in-person events but still allow for safe distancing, and the ability to catch up with colleagues and contacts in more intimate environments.
#9 Bold Fun Design
If 2022 is anything it is a tale of two worlds, and while the focus for in-person events will most certainly be safety, there are also plenty of reasons to celebrate and what better way to welcome everyone back is with bright bold colors, large photo wall entries, art installations, interactive displays, AR & VR tech integrations, and more. Event planners have been cooped up for 2 years doing R&D, just frothing for the chance to design again, and we can’t wait to see it!
#10 Gatsby Everything
One thing we all CAN agree on is that we should be prepared for Gatsby theme events pretty much all year, and likely all decade. The roaring 20’s theme is fun, of course timely, and just kinda feels right, right about now. This will likely slow down in 2023, but rest assured that in 2022 at least, your favorite ‘flapper’ or pinstripe ‘gangster’ outfit will be getting plenty of use.
Loving these trends and wanting to bring them into your next event? Contact us today to see how you can make this year’s event bigger and better than ever!