Navigating the ever-evolving landscape of event trends can be a daunting task for any event planner. Rapid changes in technology, fluctuating attendee expectations, and budget cuts create a sense of uncertainty, posing challenges to develop a robust, long-term event strategy that brings a positive ROI.
We’ve tapped into the collective wisdom of industry experts, analysts, and 12,000+ event builders from leading Fortune 500 companies, including 10 of the top 20 in life science and pharma and the Big Four professional services networks.
Through this extensive research, we’ve identified 12 key event trends for 2024 that are set to reshape the event industry. These trends address critical areas such as enhancing attendee engagement, adopting digital-first strategies, integrating sustainable goals, personalizing experiences, and leveraging event data to prove ROI, among others.
Discover the event trends you ended to know if you want to stay ahead of the curve in 2024.
Event trend #1 Stop Sticking To The Same Old Event Formats. It’s Time To Break The Mold.
After the pandemic, event organizers were keen to get back to in-person events with ideas to infuse them with newfound vitality. Everyone expected the event industry to emerge transformed, embracing innovative approaches and breaking away from the pre-pandemic norms.
But, it didn’t. Most events are exactly like they were before. This event trend poses a significant risk because if event organizers fail to adapt and evolve, events may become outdated, unengaging, and disconnected from audience expectations.
The conventional in-person event model is no longer enough to captivate today’s audiences. Feedback shows that attendees increasingly find traditional events dull and are not satisfied with various aspects ranging from content to catering. Plus, rising costs mean fewer people can afford to attend in-person events.
With 52% of event planners saying their biggest challenge is increasing event attendance, it’s time to revisit and revolutionize your event strategy if you want to get people through the door. Ask yourself, “How can we …”
- Select a venue that will attract our audience?
- Use event technology to drive interactions?
- Create event sponsorship packages that add value to both sponsors and attendees?
- Change how we run sessions to enhance engagement?
- Select speakers that resonate better with our audience?
- Leverage social media for more impactful event promotion?
- Implement effective post-event engagement to sustain interest?
By embracing these changes, you position your events at the forefront of innovation, ensuring they remain relevant, dynamic, and highly anticipated by your audience.
Event Trend #2 Come Up With New Ways To Engage Your Audience At Events
The blueprint of event organization is changing. As the older generation of event professionals and attendees begins to take a step back, a vibrant new cohort is stepping forward. The Millennials and Gen Z make up almost 42% of the population. They are redefining the ethos of event engagement. Their preferences and perspectives are not just a fleeting event trend but a call for a fundamental change in how we conceptualize and execute events.
New generations crave authenticity and inclusivity and reject the traditional, sales-driven approaches. They can sense practices that seem disingenuous or exclusive. This discerning audience demands more than just a superficial experience. They seek genuine connection and engagement.
According to research, 70% of millennials value experiences over material things. Hence creating more human-centric, less sales-oriented experiences is vital. Imagine a breakout session around a fire pit, where a guest speaker engages in conversation without the barrier of a microphone, creating an atmosphere of peer-to-peer interaction. Such settings encourage relaxation and genuine engagement, appealing to attendees across the spectrum, including senior executives or HCPs.
Although networking remains central to the event experience, with 88% of event professionals saying that the main reason people attend events is for networking opportunities, it’s time for the approach to evolve. There’s a need to move beyond the traditional networking mold and consider the diverse needs of all attendees, including introverts. For instance, integrating printed QR code badges for networking can offer a more comfortable and personalized way for attendees to connect, fostering a sense of intimacy amidst the larger event environment.
The events that will resonate with new generations in 2024 are those that create environments of inclusivity and belonging and meaningful human engagement that result in bold and intimate experiences. This event trend is as true for corporate gatherings in sectors like life sciences, pharmaceuticals, and professional services as it is for any other.
Event Trend #3 Think Digital-First When Planning In-Person Events
A staggering 78% of event organizers now acknowledge that live events are more crucial than ever for businesses. But in an era where the digital landscape is rapidly evolving, they are also recognizing the paramount importance of integrating technology into their in-person events.
Historically and still today, in-person events have lagged in digital integration. But, with changing attendee demographics and the impending deprecation of digital cookies, there is a pressing need to embed more digital touchpoints within these events.
Not only does this strategy yield valuable first-party data through measuring event metrics that get fed straight into your CRM, but it also significantly enhances the attendee experience and amplifies the impact of the event. Remember that events are becoming one of the few sources of such first-party data, making their digital evolution even more critical.
The benefits of a digital-first approach to in-person events are manifold. For starters, event technology users report a 22% higher satisfaction rate compared to those relying on traditional, physical event programs. This indicates a broader trend where over 37% of events now offer mobile event apps, providing features like live updates, personalized schedules, digital maps, interactive Q&A sessions, networking opportunities, and real-time feedback. These features not only cater to the modern attendee’s expectations but also offer sustainable, engagement-boosting, and ROI-enhancing benefits. Furthermore, the data gathered can be seamlessly connected to CRM systems, providing invaluable insights.
Some event planners will take digital-first events further in 2024, not just using a mobile event app, but also a self-service event check-in and event badge printing. And let’s not forget about hybrid events that are still popular for enterprise events in the life sciences and professional services industries.
There is a common misconception that adopting a ‘hybrid’ model equates to planning 2 separate events, doubling both the workload and cost. This is not the case if you adopt a simple yet effective digital-first strategy. By using straightforward camera setups, events can be streamed worldwide using in-person event platforms or hybrid event platforms, opening up new avenues for engagement and data collection without the need for extensive additional resources.
The 63% of events not yet making the most of these digital opportunities are missing out on significant advantages. A digital-first approach in planning in-person events is not just an event trend for 2024; it’s a strategic imperative that promises to redefine the event experience, delivering sustainable benefits, enhanced engagement, and a more profound return on investment. This approach aligns perfectly with what modern attendees seek and expect in the evolving event landscape.
Event Trend #4 Mix It Up With Different Event Formats: In-Person, Hybrid, And Virtual
The strategic mix of different event formats – in-person, hybrid, and virtual – emerged in 2023 as a crucial component for successful event planning and will continue in 2024. The blend is not just an event trend. It’s a response to the evolving needs and preferences of audiences worldwide.
In-person events, while invaluable for their immersive experiences, can consume a significant portion of resources, accounting for 58% of the B2B marketing budget. Their high demands in terms of time, energy, and finances need a more balanced approach. By integrating a mix of in-person, hybrid, and virtual events throughout the year, organizations can achieve broader reach and accessibility, catering to diverse audience preferences and constraints.
But that is not the only advantage. Implementing a mixed-format event strategy also:
- provides the opportunity to reach a wider audience, breaking geographical and logistical barriers;
- facilitates continuous engagement that is not confined to the event duration but extended before and after through digital means;
- allows for customized experiences tailored to various audience segments;
- aligns well with sustainable practices;
- allows for prudent risk management;
- opens up more networking opportunities;
- increases event content lifespan; and, most importantly,
- reduces overall costs.
By carefully analyzing current event strategies and costs, organizations can identify and eliminate less effective formats, thereby optimizing their event strategies for better ROI.
The way forward involves planning a new, audience-centric event mix. This could include more smaller virtual events and fewer large, tier-one-style in-person events. Such a strategy not only aligns with current trends but also ensures that events are more sustainable, flexible, and relevant to today’s dynamic audience.
This strategic event trend not only enhances reach and engagement but also ensures a more cost-effective, sustainable, and flexible approach to event planning. The future of events lies in adaptability and responsiveness to the evolving needs of the audience, and this multi-format strategy is at the heart of meeting these needs effectively.
Event Trend #5 Use One End-To-End Event Technology Solution
Another key event trend for 2024 is the adoption of one end-to-end event technology solution. Currently, 81% of event planners juggle between 2-5 different event technology software to manage their onsite events, often leading to fragmented experiences and increased operational complexities.
The need to streamline this process cannot be overstated. Relying on multiple tools not only incurs substantial costs but also results in a lack of cohesion, creating poor experiences for attendees and an increased workload for event planners. The inefficiencies of managing different systems and the manual labor involved in handling various tools, like Excel spreadsheets, are major drawbacks of this cobbled approach.
“I still talk to enterprise event planners, who are using typically between 5 and 25 solutions for their events. They’re using something for registration. They’re using something for badge printing. They’re using something as an event app. They’re using something else as a lead retrieval tool. And they’re using something else as attendance tracking. And we can’t blame them because they’ve been sold on this idea of an “all-in-one event suite”. But in reality, what they’ve learned is that most of those suites actually have been built by numerous acquisitions and contain software that doesn’t work well together, creating a clunky experience for attendees and organizational chaos for event planners.”
The solution lies in adopting a single, end-to-end event technology platform that extends across all event formats. Using one event platform can significantly reduce costs and complexities associated with managing multiple systems. More importantly, it offers a cohesive, seamless experience for attendees, eliminating the friction that comes with navigating through multiple platforms. This ease of use is crucial in enhancing the overall event experience.
Beyond the attendee experience, one end-to-end event platform offers substantial benefits for event organizers as well. It allows for coherent data gathering and analysis, providing comprehensive insights into attendee behavior and preferences. Plus, it shifts the focus from the technicalities of managing multiple tools to what truly matters – creating engaging, valuable content and experiences for attendees.
For event planners and organizations alike, this transition is not just an event trend, but a strategic move towards more efficient, effective, and engaging event management.
Looking for help managing your events, check out our list of the top event management companies of 2024.
Event Trend #6 Empower Attendees To Influence Event Content
This event trend centers around the concept of the psychological principle known as the IKEA effect. It is gaining significant momentum in the event industry, particularly as we look towards 2024. This phenomenon, where individuals feel a deeper connection and investment in something they have contributed to, is reshaping how we think about attendee event engagement.
Consider the experience of assembling IKEA’s flat-pack furniture: the act of building it yourself instills a sense of accomplishment and ownership. This same principle can be remarkably effective in enhancing event engagement.
For instance, involving attendees right from the event registration process, such as asking them a question or seeking their input on case studies to be discussed, fosters a sense of investment. This approach makes attendees feel that their time and contributions are valued and that they are playing a role in shaping the event’s content.
There are various ways to implement this tactic effectively using your event platform or mobile event app. For example, by asking event attendees to:
- answer topical questions,
- participate in knowledge ladders or quizzes,
- record short videos discussing the topic,
- or share case studies and opinions based on their practical experiences.
These methods not only make the content more relevant and personalized but also enhance the overall value of the experience for attendees, making it more likely they will attend your events and interact with your content. It also increases the likelihood of them sharing the event with their peers, thereby amplifying its reach and impact. And it provides organizers with valuable insights to tailor the content more effectively.
As we move towards 2024, the event trend of giving attendees more power over event content is set to become a staple in the event planning strategy. This approach not only enhances attendee investment and satisfaction but also transforms standard events into unique, interactive, and personalized experiences.
By fostering a sense of investment from the initial engagement, event organizers can significantly improve activation rates, ensuring their events stand out in an increasingly competitive landscape.
Event Trend #7 Don’t Overlook Pre- And Post-Event Engagement
The concept of asynchronous engagement, an extension of the IKEA effect, is revolutionizing the event landscape, especially as we head into 2024. That’s why this approach has made it onto the list of event trends.
This method redefines an event’s lifecycle, stretching its impact and relevance far beyond the traditional time-bound constraints. As Pierre Metrailler, CEO of SpotMe, puts it, “It’s the idea that your event doesn’t just start at 10:00 am and then finish at 10:45 am.” It enriches the conventional understanding of events, turning them into extended conversations and ongoing interactions.
In the pre-event phase, moving beyond simple marketing teasers to initiate a two-way dialogue with attendees is crucial. By inviting them to contribute to the event’s content – whether through submitting questions for speakers, participating in polls, or sharing case studies – you create a more collaborative environment. This active involvement not only increases engagement but also empowers attendees to shape future discussions, addressing unmet needs or pressing issues within their respective fields.
SpotMe’s research underscores the effectiveness of this approach, showing that asynchronous engagement can boost activation rates by 20–60%. This method of involving attendees in content creation not only enhances registration and activation rates but also fosters a community of professionals who view the event platform as a valuable resource for both learning and contributing.
The post-event phase is equally critical. Here, the content from your event transforms into a dynamic asset that encourages further engagement on a gated content hub connected to your event platform, for example. This continued interaction allows attendees to consume and internalize the content at their own pace, adding significant value, particularly in time-sensitive industries.
Other effective post-event content repurposing strategies include sharing event memories through videos, photos, quotes, and stories from the event. Offering access to exclusive resources like free tools or guides as a surprise can significantly enhance attendee delight. Personal touches, such as GIFs or handwritten notes, although seemingly old-school, can be powerful tools in creating memorable experiences and fostering long-term relationships.
Lastly, soliciting feedback is essential. Rather than the dreaded sales-pitch-heavy follow-up emails, focusing on personalized communication is key. Asking for feedback, sharing event highlights, and expressing gratitude make attendees feel valued and part of an ongoing conversation.
Event Trend #8 Personalize Experiences And Content As Much As Possible
As we look to 2024, the event trend of personalizing event experiences and content has become crucial in the industry. The need for customization is not just a preference but a need to connect your audience more deeply with your brand. This personalization extends beyond mere promotional tactics and into the very fabric of the event experience.
There are some relatively simple ways to personalize event experiences during the event lead-up in 2024. Two examples are with customized email cadences and agendas.
“People always tell you to personalize your email cadences. But when ask, ‘What do you do to personalize them?’ The response is, ‘Well, I have a segment here by demographics and TA, etc.’. That’s not personalization, it’s targeting, segmentation.”
Personalizing event emails involves doing more than just segmenting and targeting. If you only focus on segmenting and targeting, you may risk continuously sending registration prompts to already registered individuals. And that can be perceived as disorganized and inattentive and lead to attendee frustration and attrition. This is an easy mistake to avoid with an event platform with marketing email automation.
Effective email personalization should demonstrate a clear understanding of the attendee’s journey, catering to their evolving needs and expectations at each stage. It’s about maintaining open lines of communication for information that is relevant and valuable, thereby optimizing their event experience.
Another pre-event personalization technique is to allow attendees to define their own agendas in large events with multiple sessions. This empowers them to curate an experience that aligns with their specific interests, ensuring they receive content that is most relevant and beneficial to them.
But, it’s not enough to focus on personalization only before an event. A common issue in many events is the discrepancy between promotional efforts and actual experience. There’s a tendency to target diverse groups with promises of a personalized experience, yet on event day, they often find themselves lost in a crowd, devoid of the promised personal touch. This disconnect not only diminishes the event experience but can also harm the brand’s reputation.
Therefore, it’s crucial to prioritize the attendees’ needs and desires in every aspect of event planning. If personalization is overlooked, there is a significant risk of losing market relevance, as modern attendees demand more than just a general event experience. They seek events that recognize and cater to their unique interests and preferences.
Event Trend #9 Maximize The Impact Of Your Event Content
Organizing an event is a monumental task, often involving months or even years of planning, finding venues, aligning vendors, hiring speakers, driving registrations, and selling sponsorships. Significant financial commitments are made, all culminating in an event that is over in just a few hours or days. The real challenge, however, lies in what happens after the event.
Events are unique intersections where content and community meet in a dynamic way. An immense amount of content is produced and captured at these gatherings: session footage, behind-the-scenes glimpses, podcasts, customer testimonials, and much more. This content is a goldmine for marketers seeking efficient ways to drive revenue and engagement.
But, historically, much of this valuable content has been underused, often ending up stored on a drive or uploaded to platforms like YouTube with little strategic follow-up. The current event trend, however, is to strategically leverage this content to extend the relationship and magic that happen at events. This approach is especially important for engaging those who could not attend, building anticipation and excitement for the next event.
One effective strategy is to repurpose event content. This involves transforming live event materials into on-demand content that can be accessed at any time on your event platform. This not only extends the life of the content but also amplifies its reach. By doing so, you create a continuous engagement cycle, not just with attendees but with a broader audience who may have missed the live event.
Turning events into on-demand content can take various forms. It could be as simple as making session recordings available online, or as complex as creating a series of follow-up webinars or interactive content pieces based on event highlights. The key is to keep the content engaging, accessible, and relevant to your audience’s interests and needs.
Event Trend #10 Use Event Data To Define Your Strategy
The role of data in shaping event strategies has become an increasingly significant event trend, especially as we approach 2024. Events, by their very nature, are treasure troves of data, offering invaluable insights into attendee preferences, behaviors, and expectations. And event platforms are instrumental in this process, enabling the collection of a wealth of data both pre-event, during the event, and post-event.
Yet, many event planners, marketers, and even CEOs are not fully leveraging this data to its fullest potential. The challenge lies in effectively using this data to enhance the event experience and streamline event planning and execution. The ultimate goal should be to use this data to place attendees at the center of every event, adopting a people-first approach that prioritizes their needs and preferences.
The data you collect at events is some of the best first-party data available. But, it often remains underused in making event planning and execution more efficient and effective. This underuse results in missed opportunities to reduce friction for both organizers and attendees and to ensure that follow-up and subsequent events are even more successful.
As we enter 2024, the integration of AI and machine learning with event data is set to transform the event industry. These technologies can automate and enhance the process of event execution and improve the overall event experience. This application of technology is not just a futuristic concept but a current reality, as no successful event company, whether medium or large, can afford to overlook the importance of data.
The most successful CEOs in the event space already adopt a data-first mentality. They consider themselves not just event organizers but data companies. This perspective is crucial, as data-driven strategies enable precise targeting and customization, eliminating the need to guess about aspects like attendee registration or session resonance.
But, of course, it’s important to strike a balance between data-driven strategies and the human element of events. While data is critical in informing decisions and strategies, the essence of events lies in creating human connections and emotional experiences. In 2024, the most successful events will be those that seamlessly blend data intelligence with the emotional and relational aspects of events, ensuring that every attendee feels valued and engaged.
Event Trend #11 Use Event Data To Prove ROI To Management
In the face of rising costs and flatlining budgets in 2024, the strategic use of event data to prove ROI to management is key. This event trend is rooted in a perennial challenge faced by event marketers globally – budget constraints.
There’s more pressure on event budgets than ever before. A key concern for event marketers is the escalating costs. Research, such as a CWT survey conducted last year, indicated a significant increase in the cost per attendee for meetings and events – a trend expected to continue. Meanwhile, event budgets are not keeping pace. A report in collaboration with Exhibitor Advocate and Exhibitor Magazine highlighted that the top challenge for corporate exhibit marketers is internal budget pressure, with 68% of respondents citing it as a major concern.
The solution lies in leveraging the right data to communicate the impact and value of events to the wider business. This approach is vital, not just to justify the expenses but to demonstrate the inherent value of these events to the business. The challenge is not just the high cost, but the perception within the business of the value that these events bring.
Communicating event performance and impact in terms that the wider organization can understand and appreciate is crucial. It involves moving beyond traditional metrics like revenue generated or attendee numbers. The focus is shifting to different types of data that are robust and scientific enough to appeal to senior leadership and strategically aligned with event program objectives.
One emerging focus is on sentiment data. This type of data captures the qualitative aspects of attendee experience, providing insights beyond mere numbers. Sentiment data can offer a more nuanced understanding of an event’s impact, such as attendee engagement and satisfaction levels, which are critical in today’s event landscape. And this kind of data is easy to collect with a robust event platform that has customizable surveys.
In the past, the events industry has either collected too much or too little data, and often not the right type of data to demonstrate value effectively. To win budget arguments and defend event spend in 2024, it’s crucial to adhere to best practices in data collection, focusing on the quality and relevance of the data gathered.
Event Trend #12 Include Sustainable Goals In Event Strategies
Sustainable events have been a key event trend for many years now, and 2024 will be no different. Especially because it is estimated that the events industry is responsible for as much as 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. One contributing factor being that they often involve transporting thousands of people to a single location. It is therefore our moral duty to make events more sustainable, which requires a conscious and dedicated effort.
According to the Events Industry Council, sustainable practices can result in a 20–30% reduction in costs and a 60–80% reduction in waste. Considering the events industry is responsible for a significant portion of global greenhouse gas emissions and waste generation, these practices are not just beneficial; they are necessary.
But driven by a new generation that prioritizes this value, sustainability encompasses more than just environmental concerns; it extends to economic and social aspects as well. This broader perspective is essential for truly sustainable event planning.
On the environmental front, the goal isn’t necessarily to achieve 100% sustainability immediately, but rather to take steps in the right direction. This could involve:
- Reducing waste, for instance, by ordering food and beverages more efficiently to avoid excess that goes to waste
- Selecting a venue that prioritizes sustainable practices, such as water conservation and renewable energy
- Promoting eco-friendly transportation options like ride-sharing to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of an event
- Using recyclable materials
- Opting for digital over printed materials
Economic sustainability, on the other hand, involves ensuring that events are financially viable and contribute positively to the local economy. And social sustainability involves ensuring that events are inclusive and accessible to all, promoting diversity and supporting local communities.
It’s clear that in 2024, event sustainability is not just about environmental stewardship but also about economic viability and social responsibility. It’s about making informed choices that balance the needs of the planet with the practicalities of event planning. Incorporating sustainability into event strategies is not just a trend but a need, ensuring that events leave a positive legacy in more ways than one.
Stay Ahead In 2024 Event Trends With One Event Tech Solution
The event landscape in 2024 is brimming with innovative event trends and opportunities. Each event trend presents a unique challenge and a chance to excel in creating memorable, impactful events. From enhancing attendee engagement with immersive experiences to adopting digital-first strategies that resonate with a tech-savvy audience, the future of events is undeniably dynamic and exciting.
But, navigating these trends effectively requires more than just awareness; it calls for a reliable, versatile event technology solution that can adapt to these evolving needs. This is where SpotMe steps in. With our extensive experience serving the top-tier players in life science, pharma, and professional services, we understand the intricacies of delivering successful events in these high-touch industries.
In a landscape where change is the only constant, aligning with a technology partner like SpotMe ensures that your events are not just keeping pace but setting the pace. Our platform is designed to evolve with event trends, ensuring that your events remain at the forefront of innovation and effectiveness.
Take the first step towards transforming your event strategy for 2024 and beyond. Request a demo of SpotMe today and discover how we could help you create events that your audience loves.