Trends That Will Shape the Events Industry in 2016

The events and meeting planning industry is constantly changing. As planners it is our job to know what the newest trends are so we can provide the most ideal attendee and client experience possible. From Design to Tech to Regulations and more here’s our predications for 2016.

1. Look At The Big Picture

For a long time, most conferences have been held at hotels or “conference center” type locations. New trends in event design have leaned towards selecting unique venues to capture the event theme, and keep attendees intrigued. A few examples of new venue types are concert halls, art galleries, or smaller boutique hotels that have a fun, and intimate atmosphere.

It helps to explore cool venue locations during the event planning process. Most planners will find that they receive great feedback when an event is not in a boring ballroom, but instead in an outdoor space, or fun environment. It can become a boring routine for those who attend events throughout the year, and have to sit in a dull conference room.

2. Creativity, Creativity Is Key

Be sure to think through your event design style during the planning process as well. The design style reaches all areas of an event, from the chairs and set up of the room to the trends in food, beverages, and networking events you have.

3. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) will see major growth at exhibitions and events.

2016 will be a big year for the use of virtual reality and augmented reality in exhibitions and events. Citing Facebook’s purchase of the Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles, we expect to see these kinds of immersive technologies used for product demonstrations on the trade show floor, site inspections, and virtual meetings.

4. The Internet of Things (IOT) will connect people and objects in unprecedented ways for events.

Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from 2015, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. In 2016, 5.5 million new things will get connected every day. The Internet of Things provides businesses and the marketing manager with vast amounts of data, but they still aren’t using it effectively. In 2016, we expect to see a greater understanding of the value of this data, how to use it to make better marketing decisions and how to pinpoint what data from sensors and connected technology at events is best utilized.

5. The Millennial Mindset

Digitally literate and social media savvy meeting planners and attendees are changing communications between hotels and planners and attendees. Millennials are set to disrupt the way the meetings and events industry does business – if they haven’t already. To them, technology is everything. They want their answers now, on the screens of their smartphones. Remember, the first members of this generation are about the same age as the “WORLD WIDE Web.” It was the sandbox in which, as they grew, they built larger and larger castles. And then they did something totally amazing: With precocious naiveté, Millennials simply bypassed learned experience by creating a technological work-around. And with the virtual communities that were developed, Millennials re-defined the concept of “word-of-mouth” (now “user-generated content”).

6. Content Quality is King

Attendees are transitioning from spending money to hear “fluff” to spending it on actionable information. Those that are seeking to attend conferences/meetings/workshops are focusing more on the quality of the information disseminated at events. They are seeking more actionable (doable) information versus just feel good talk. Attendees are willing to attend events that will give them a true ROI to propel their business or idea to the next level.

7. Bespoke event locations

Ballrooms and event venues serve a purpose, but they are just a bit boring. In the past few years, many caterers and retail stores have successfully opened pop-up locations, creating amazing temporary culinary and shopping experiences. We believe the same could be done for events. Bringing the creativity of the pop-up concept to events, creating one of a kind event experiences in remote islands, warehouses and rooftops.

8. Global Hotel Predictions

It will be a sellers’ market in North America. Hotel demand in North America will exceed supply, giving sellers the upper hand. Prices are predicted to rise 4.3 percent in the region. Globally, hotel prices are expected to increase 2.5 percent in 2016.

South America in the spotlight. Brazil will take center stage next summer when the 2016 Olympics and Paralympic Games will be played in Rio de Janeiro. Pockets of high demand may result in a shortage of hotels and meeting space.

It will be a buyers’ market in Europe. Europe’s weakened economy, combined with a 10 percent decrease in hotel rooms under contract compared to June 2014, will give buyers greater negotiating power. Regardless, supply in Europe may be tight.

Unpredictability in Asia Pacific. A shaky economy and health-related scares in Asia Pacific could cause challenges, but hotel growth is projected for China and India.

9. Shared Economy

Shared economy services, such as Uber and Airbnb, are predicted to grow from a value of $15 billion in 2013 to $335 billion in 2025 (according to PwC), and 60 percent of Millennial travellers trust these non-traditional companies, according to a recent study by Allianz Global Assistance USA. With this growing interest in alternative lodging and transportation options, planners will be pleased to know LAH-CAL will be joining the shared economy with two new services, the first service to be launched in January 2016.

10. Regulations – Medical Meetings

In 2016, compliance is expected to be a hot topic again in the pharmaceutical industry. This past year saw regulations such as the U.S. Sunshine Act (Open Payments Act) settle in while the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) issued new guidelines. Both require more transparency around transfers of value made to health care professionals through meetings. The changes have created major increases in meetings-related administrative work and continue to affect how corporations interact with their third-party meeting management companies.

11. Finally Make it Personal

The trend toward personalization will continue in the year ahead, affecting everything from meeting marketing, to incentive rewards, to education, to attendee communications.