images from multiple events and the text "2019 event trends"

2019 Event Trends. What to keep an eye out for

Based on my personal experience and the know-how of our event planning partners, I’ve put together a list on what we at Oveit expect to be the 2019 event trends.  This is far from being exhaustive, but I hope it will help you prepare for the year that lays ahead. Let’s have a meaningful and successful 2019.

Authenticity

In order to emotionally connect with attendees, authenticity needs to be one of the most important assets of your events. Line-ups, activities, brand activations and displays, everything will need to be in harmony with your stated values.

Event authenticity is mostly about being faithful to your stated values and loyal to your attendees. Trends will come and go, but your identity (based on your beliefs) cannot change from one year to another. Authenticity determines the trust in your brand, but it’s also the second most important factor for millennials to decide if they support a brand or not (the first being loyalty discounts).

authenticity as event trends for 2019. arrow showing that for 90% of millennials brand authenticity is important

Authenticity means being faithful to your stated values and loyal to your guests. It means that you are not afraid to show who you are and that you are not afraid to stand for what you believe in. Not everybody will be on the same page with you, but it is impossible to please everyone. And not everybody should be your guest, partner or sponsor – as your sets of values should apply to them as well.

For example: if you host your events outdoor and plead for ecology, having a company known for polluting the environment as a sponsor will make you look untrue (to be gentle).

Stay true to yourself and stay true to your attendees. In the long run, it will really make a difference.

Families with small children – one of the 2019 Event Trends

When it comes to events in general (and music festivals in particular), in the last 4 years families with small children saw the highest increase when it comes to attending rate. A study conducted by Starcom shows that more than 25% of the questioned young parents consider concert/festivals as a proper experience for children. And this should be of no surprise as millennials, members of the generation that chooses experiences over goods, have reached the parenthood age.

This change brings new challenges for the event organizers, but new opportunities as well. Child activities are becoming “a thing” at events, but are also a good way for brands to use them as new marketing channels. New sponsors can be interested in your events. You can now open new revenue streams by offering dedicated services for families with children.

Obviously, if your event is not child-friendly (for reasons that are beyond your power) you should mention it from the beginning. Don’t try to attract this category for events where kids will not feel welcome or where it is not safe for them. As I have mentioned before, it’s important that you create an authentic experience and this may mean that your event is not crafted for everyone.

Personalized experiences. Based on the relevant information

I’ve always been a huge fan of personalized experiences. I strongly believe that this is a great way of showing your guests they truly matter to you, that they are not just another sold ticket.

However – to offer personalized experiences you will first need to know what your attendees like. You will need to collect data about their favorite artist/speaker, along with their demographics, in order to create some cohort reports that will get you one step closer to creating a memorable experience.

This is why we have developed our NFC-based engagement features. We opted for NFC because it’s fast and secure. And believe me, attendees treasure their time. Nobody will be happy to repeat the same process over and over again each time they want to engage an exhibitor or join a gamification feature. The times when attendees were forced to manually enter all their information are over. Or so it should. Our software allows them to communicate with just a simple tap of the hand.

The same process is available to check their purchasing habits. Data is paired to your attendees’ information in order to use them for your current and future events.

Use a registration form to collect attendee data. Allow them to engage your exhibitors with a simple tap. GDPR compliant, of course.

photo showing 2 people and a device used for attendee engagement

Tablet and NFC reader used for attendee engagement. Source: Pioneers ’18

Connect attendee data to your cashless payment system information. See what attendees like and what they dislike. See which are the areas they like to spent their time in or which sessions/artist they find attractive.

Offer a customized experience without being too intrusive. Your attendees want a customized experience. But they don’t want to make an effort each time you need their data.

Contact us for more info on the “tap and engage” feature.

Social responsibility. More than a 2019 event trend

With generation Z reaching the “wow, I love events” age, social responsibility should get an important place on your agenda. Why? Because soon Gen Z and millennials will represent the most important age segment of your guests. And they take social responsibility extremely seriously.

Yes, by creating communities, events are changing the world, making it a better place. But this may not be enough.

Useful ideas:

  • Have Non-profits as exhibitors at your events; this way you will help them engage attendees and make their causes know.
  • Redirect a percentage from your tickets income to a social cause.
  • Support an existing cause by offering them exposure in your marketing campaigns.
  • If you host outdoor events you can re-energize an area with a damaged environment and host your event there.

But your efforts need to be for something you believe in. Don’t do it just for the publicity. People can tell.

As mentioned in a previous article, 80% of Gen Z feels that social responsibility is mandatory for brands. It’s not a trend, not just an option, it’s something that we all must support. It’s our duty.

Event marketing trends for 2019. Micro-influencers

Forbes recently published the  “11 trends that will shape marketing in 2019” article, pointing out 11 marketing trends that we all should focus on this year. But one really caught my attention: the growth of micro-influencers. I admit I have a personal affinity toward influencer marketing. I have written an article on how to use influencer marketing to promote your events, so I will not plead for it again. But I will mention one of the most important reasons for which influencer marketing is on the rise (besides banner blindness and the likes):

  • influencer marketing is closer to  word of mouth marketing than it is to traditional marketing

And this is BIG. We trust other humans’ feedback over a brand more than we trust its marketing messages. It’s reasonable. People follow social media influencers for the content they create, but also because they like them as humans. They trust them. This is why Influencer Marketing is so powerful.

Micro-influencers, a 2019 (event marketing) trend, are social influencers that have a smaller group of followers, but also the strongest engagement with their audience. Their connection is genuine. Their content is not created for everyone but suited for a niche. And that.

Would you rather work with a celebrity? That’s fine, but remember that 70% of the millennials prefer a brand that is endorsed by a non-celebrity influencer.

1 on 1 meetings

There’s nothing new here: conferences and business events are gold when it comes to meeting new people. If you are hosting such events I am sure you have noticed that the networking element is something your attendees really appreciate. In fact, this is so important that a google search for “networking at events” gives us over 350M results.  And this is why it made it to my 2019 event trends list.

print screen from google search of "networking tat events"

source: google.com

There are tons of articles that are trying to teach people how to become better and better are networking. And people are reading them. I’ve heard it from hundreds of attendees. The interest is real.

What can you do to help attendees network?

Start with a designated area. Pioneers ’18 had a designated area for one on one meetings and people loved it.

Have a 1:1 meeting feature in your event app.

Use a designated 1:1 meeting app: using our open API it’s easier than ever to send collected data (through registration forms) to third-party apps.

Help people connect and your event will quickly become the “go to” for professionals from multiple industries.

Although the year has just begun and surprises may occur, these are 6 of the 2019 event trends that I will keep an eye for. Hope my article helps you prepare for this great year that lays ahead.

How to improve your events. 7 tips for event professionals

“The only person you should be better than is the person you were yesterday”

This is the thought that gets me out of bed in those mornings when all I want is to turn off the alarm and get back to sleep – we all have this kind of mornings.

This quote applies to our work as well. And I had the pleasure of discovering that many of our event planners partners think the same. They aim, with every new event, to create a better experience for their attendees. To be better than last time. To make the smile on attendees’ faces slightly wider than last time. And talking to them about what they work on I have managed to extract some common points that can improve any event.

multicolor confetti at a concert

Start (planning and executing) early

‘“If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”

We all know it, no matter if you are planning a one day conference or a multi-day festival, it takes months of preparation and work to make sure everything goes well. Start early and create a schedule for the whole process. If you leave things for last minute you whole event can be compromised by unexpected situations that may occur (and there will be quite a few of them).

Set early bird tickets

Early bird tickets are a way of repaying your most eager (and loyal) attendees, but also a great way of making sure you don’t have cash flow problems. Using an event management software that has a direct payments feature money will go straight into your account, so you will have a back up if needed. As Sir Richard Branson said, cash flow is extremely important for every business, and revenues from early bird tickets can be your safety net.

Choose an “arresting” venue

The human eye craves for beauty, and a beautiful building will always arouse admiration (the positive feedback that we have received for our Beautiful theaters article is a good proof of that). The venue where your event takes place will influence the overall experience of your attendees. Make sure that the building offers optimal conditions in matters of location, access (for people with disabilities), heating/cooling system, sound, and lights. Even though we can’t all just book the most impressive building in the city, make sure it offers you everything you need.

Well-balanced and diversified menu

People don’t attend events (just) for the great food that you offer, but this too will impact their experience. How do you act when you are hungry? Are you still able to focus? Are you still interested in what somebody else has to say? When it comes to food not all attendees have the same preferences, and although you can’t please them all you should at least have both normal and vegan menus.

Engage your attendees 

Let attendees feel as part of your event. As humans, we want to know that our words/opinions matter and asking for feedback is a great way of letting your attendees know that their do. Feedback will also let you know how your event looks from “outside” – no matter how critical you are to your own work, you should always try to see it from your attendees’ perspective. If possible, ask for feedback before, during and after the event.

Keep your attendees informed

From my own experience, I can say that attendees like to know as much as possible about the event that they are attending. Yes, a little mystery is always welcome, but don’t keep essential information from them. Questions like “where can I find the event app”, “where/when is lunch served”, “what time will Speaker X be on stage” will surely be asked, so verify that your team has the answers. People will also want to have access to the Schedule of your event, it would be nice to have it displayed in visible places (and also in the event app – if you use any).

Take advantage of event technology 

This is my favorite part because I have seen how technology in general (and Oveit in particular) can help event planners in their “pursuit of happiness”. I will point out just some of the most important aspects:

Online registration: In 2018, no matter what event you are hosting, you should offer your customers the possibility to purchase tickets online. Making it easier for them to register will increase the total number of attendees and will also offer you more information about them (though registration forms).

NFC technology: The tap-and-pay system is great because it makes it really easy for attendees to purchase the desired products. It can also be used for interaction purposes, transforming the old event wristband into an extremely powerful high-tech tool.

Smooth registration process: Undoubtedly, time is our most valuable resource, and we all cherish it. It’s clear that we don’t like to have our time wasted, so you should always use a smart tool that will ensure a fast and smooth check-in process.

It is hard to change all those mentioned above at once, but even the tiniest improvement can have spectacular long-term effects. And the story of Dave Brailsford and the British Cycling Team is a great example of how small things can bring unthinkable changes. Keep up the good work and never stop improving!

 

How will your event app increase attendee engagement?

Technology really changed the event management game. From ticketing, badges, or payments, to the way we gather information from our attendees, everything has changed due to tech.

The rise of smartphones offered event planners the chance of adding a new asset: the event app, a powerful tool when it comes to both gathering data and engaging attendees.

EVENT APP

Attendees engagement is crucial for every event planner. And event apps are great when it comes to measuring it. Further than the show/no-show rate, we all want to know if the attendees really were connected to our event. What are they curious about? What made them lose interest? And the event app is able to gather this information for you. You will know how many people downloaded the app, how many accounts have been activated, what messages generate interest and much more. All with the help of the app’s reports and analytics. But first things first:

What is customer engagement?

Customer engagement is best defined by the guys at Intercom in their powerful “Customer engagement” ebook:

“Communicating with your customer over the course of their lifecycle to help them get to the outcome that they want”. I really love the way they put the customer first. “To get the outcome that they want!” So the best practices involve putting your customer at the center of your activity. I am sure it is not the first time you hear this idea, but it can’t harm to hear it once more. When sketching the app for your event, ask yourself: How will it help attendees? How easily can someone create an account? What’s the added value for my guests?

Event app prior to the event

You can encourage your attendees to install the app just after they buy the ticket and supply them valuable information prior to the event. But try not to overwhelm them with your messages and send only valuable information (otherwise, why would they use it?).

Make sure you provide a schedule for the event and info about the speakers/artist, this is something most people will find extremely useful.

Using the app during the event 

The best moment to engage your attendees is, of course, during your event. But make sure you don’t use it to distract them, or it may backfire. Social media integration will help your attendees’ networking efforts, but at the same time can be used to create buzz around your event.

Gamification will motivate engagement and at the same time will help your attendees network. And considering that events are based on experiences more than anything else, it is a great way to ensure a level of loyalty from your guests.  

But don’t create an event app just for gamification, a smart event management app – like Oveit – can be used for gamification without the cost of another app.

Use polls and survey to increase engagement 

What is the best way to find out what your customers really want? By simply asking them. If you can’t read minds, of course. Remember using paper and pen for surveys and polls, asking attendees to “keep one and hand the rest to the person in your left/right/back”. Those days are over and now everybody can vote or offer feedback using the event app, in a much simpler manner. For both attendees and organizers.

Offer certification for your attendees

If your event has seminar sessions hosted by certified trainers your attendees can receive a certification for attending them. And your event app can help you automate this process and send the certification to your attendees. Simply connect their personal profiles to a specific seminar and they will be able to receive the diploma when the seminar is over. You can use the app to test their skills and give certification only to those that have answered correctly to a certain number of questions.

The event app will increase the engagement of your attendees and will help you collect relevant data about your guests. But when aiming for increased customer engagement remember to use your energy so that the attendees get the outcome that they want. And the app makes no exception.

Creating a unique #hashtag for your event

In a previous article, when speaking about how you can use Twitter to promote your event, we recommended you to use the almighty event #hashtag in order to gain more visibility. Today I want to talk more about the #hashtag in particular, to see how and why you should create a unique one for your event.

But first, let’s remember what a hashtag is. Google dictionary informs us that it’s “a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications, especially Twitter, to identify messages on a specific topic”. In other words, it’s a searchable link used on social media platforms to categorize content, tying public conversation in one single stream.

hash sign followed by EventHashtag

Twitter was the first social media platform to use # as a searchable link. In 2007 user Chris Messina first brought it up on Twitter, but it took 2 more years before the feature went live. Twitter is not the only social platform to use the hashtag for grouping content anymore but it’s the platform where users use it the most, over 125 Million # being used every single day.

#hashtags are also used on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn (tested it, stopped using it, started using it again) Google+ or Pinterest. Even Snapchat users are using it, although on this platform it can’t be used as a searchable link.

What can I include in a hashtag? 

Although I’m sure almost everyone knows how they look there is some specific information we need to know. Hashtags don’t support spaces, so if you want to to use multiple words you can use capitals to differentiate them (example: #ExperienceTech). Punctuation marks and special characters are not supported either but numbers are, so #WAM18 can be (and is) used as an event hashtag.

Why should I create an event hashtag?

Twitter capture of GuinessWorldRecord account

source: Twitter.com

 

 

 

 

What would you say if I told you that one hashtag, #AIDubEBTamangPanahon, connected over 40 million tweets and comments in just 24 hours? Yes, this is a world record, but it’s a good example of how the snowball hashtag can roll, getting bigger and bigger.

Using the right hashtag (or combination of hashtags) will help you keep your followers close, and also reach new ones. Someone interested in your event will simply click on the hashtag and will “gain access” to all content where your # was used.

Your unique #hashtag can be used in combination with other ones in order to increase your reach but used wrong hashtags can also decrease it. These charts will show you the number of hashtags you should use on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for a better reach.

Twitter: it’s not recommended to use more than two hashtags per post.

Facebook: don’t use more than 3 hashtags in one post.

Instagram: Instagrammers love hashtags, so it seems that posts with 9 hashtags have the best engagement. But as you can see, the more the merrier.

You can check out Socialmediatoday to find out more about the recommended length of a hashtag for this 3 social media platforms.

How should my event hashtag be?

Simple and easy to spell. Try keeping it as simple as possible, so people don’t find it hard to remember (or spell).The goal is to have it used as often as possible and a very complicated one won’t help you (yes,  #AIDubEBTamangPanahon seems anything but simple, but why take the risk?)

Unique. Make sure that your branded hashtag wasn’t used by another company before (#eventplanning or not). You want your hashtag to be associated with your event, not with dog food (although let’s face it, dogs are damn cool).

Relevant. Don’t use a hashtag that might mislead users, it will backfire for sure. Use something that represents your event, like #ETA2017 for Event TEchnology Awards 2017 or #burningman for…well, guess this one.

P.s. you should also check your hashtags for double-meaning and also you should say it out loud before using it, it may save you a lot of trouble afterward.

How should I use my event hashtag?

Your mission is to create meaningful events and the event hashtag is closely connected to it, so I want to show you how to best use your hashtag before, during, and after your event(s).

Before the event: Before the event, you should use it to create a buzz around it. This way more and more potential attendees find out about it.  For this, it’s best to ask all your partners to use the event hashtag. You can also create contests where the followers using your hashtag can win tickets to the event, backstage passes or any other event related prize. This way you will encourage people to use and share information about your event, meaning you will reach more and more potential attendees.

During the event: Experience taught us that attendees will post/tweet during events, letting their friends/followers know what a great time they are having. Or who they have just met.

picture of Gary Vaynerchuk and a fan from brandmind_asia's Instagram account

source: Instagram, brandminds_asia account

You can expand your reach by reposting (or retweeting) their content with your event’s “official” hashtag.  You will also show your attendees that you appreciate their social media posting.

After the event: Being used as searchable links, hashtags are great when looking for user-generated content. And considering the fact that over 85% of the millennials say User Generated Content is a good indicator of the quality of a brand you should really use testimonials in your favor. Curated UGC can boost registration for your future events and your event hashtag is a great way to identify it.