by Bonnie Dannen | August 07, 2015
Corporate events are changing just as much as special events and turning up the volume on everything from décor to attendee engagement. Today's corporations are looking for new and exciting experiences for event attendees. From destination events to innovative décor and increased technology, companies are creating unique experiences that go beyond the everyday. 

Read on to learn more about six of the hottest corporate event trends for this year. 

1. Unique and New Venues

While hotels are the go-to for corporate events, new trends in corporate event planning are serving up unique venues for corporate gatherings. Today, more companies are hosting their events in fun and unique venues like sports/concert venues, private villas, casinos, theme parks, or activity-based events like murder mystery dinners. 

Why this works: Creating a lasting impression on attendees is key to continuous attendance growth and conference longevity. These unique venues also create memorable experiences for all attendees, resulting in a win-win for both hosts and attendees. 

2. Event Transformation

Event when large companies are able to book unique venues for their event, they still require décor to brand their events. It would not be a conference if your guests are not able to tell they have arrived at the right spot. 

Turning away from the basics, today's companies, especially the young and tech companies, are elevating the way they brand their events with unique touches. Aside from the typical banners, companies are transforming event spaces into something familiar for guests.  Think Google, Salesforce or other large companies. 

Transforming a venue space into a company experience, whether a casino or racetrack, requires décor specialists who can metamorphose a venue with clever usage of linen, furniture, experiential booths, technology more. 

Why this works: A conference is the ultimate marketing event for a company. Whether it's a training conference or a sales conference, corporations require planners to design events that build brand loyalty and advocates. Effectively branding an event builds employee spirit and morale that translates into more engaged employees. 

3. Focus on Attendee Engagement

 Another corporate event trend that we'll likely see more of in 2015 is higher attendee engagement. In other words, organizers are making attendees a part of the event. Rather than sitting and listening for hours on end attendees can participate and pitch in. 

Increasing engagement can come in a variety of forms. Today's conference hosts are ditching the Power Point slides for total engagement activities such as live-feeds, video conferencing, hands-on audience participation or workshops, on-site bloggers, event-specific apps, event hash tags and more.  
Why this works: Increasing attendee engagement translates into better overall experiences. By being part of the event, attendees are more likely to gain more knowledge and skills than by simply being spectators.  

4. Ultra High-Tech Events

Not surprisingly, more organizers are implementing technology in their events. Aside from the must-have Wi-Fi, event planners and hosts are using advanced technology to create unique event experiences.  

While the traditional presentation is still around, technology is turning the traditional conference into truly unique experiences.  A few things that come to mind: 

• Event apps featuring presentation and workshops schedule
• In-app scheduling and communication capabilities 
• GPS event locator and navigation assistance
• Onsite social media networking (everything from event hash tags to Instagram feeds) 
• Information kiosks 
• On-demand video feeds
• On-the-spot surveys and contests
• Personalized push notifications (think meeting agenda or announcements)
• Real-time language translation

Armed with smartphone technology, this is just the beginning of how technology is revolutionizing the traditional corporate conference. 

Why this works: Technology provides an instant avenue to get all attendees on the same page. Canceled workshop? Inclement weather alternate plan? Meal ordering? The use of technology allows event hosts to easily and instantly communicate with every attendee while providing a personalized experience. 

5. Events as Communities

A new aspect of corporate event planning is the aspect of an event as a "community."  Instead of the typical two or three-day event, today's event planners have to consider a much longer lifecycle of their events than ever before. 

In fact, the event begins even before it starts. From registration to weeks post-show, event hosts have to build a community around the event. They need to create excitement before the event, during the event and after the event. 

The biggest challenge associated with these connected communities is that planners require additional resources to manage the communities throughout the lifetime of the event. From monitoring mentions on social media to reviewing event attendance stats and attendee preferences, corporate planners and event hosts have to be ready to proactively build and sustain the community. 

Why this works
: In the past, an event planner would have to review all event happenings way after the show to learn what worked and what didn't work. By creating and sustaining a community for their event, event planners can count on event enthusiasts to spread the word and provide instant feedback to ensure the event stays on track. 

6. Local, Organic, and Sustainable

Food that is locally sourced has become commonplace and is not going anywhere soon. With companies more focused on social responsibility, many events call for every essence of the event to be sustainable and "organic." From the food served to the materials used to create event décor and staging, companies are utilizing events as a way to make a stand on social causes - be it environmental, health or other. 

Today's conference planners and hosts have to find innovative ways to promote local, organic and sustainable causes as part of the event. From "green" décor to locally sourced ingredients or farm-to-table settings, planners have to deliver on a message of caring and responsibility. 

Why this Works: In addition to being profitable, companies and their employees are looking to be part of something bigger. This is especially true of young tech companies with a large millennial population. Tying in a sense of social responsibility to events is key in helping companies confirm their commitment to social causes. 

The corporate event scene is experiencing a tremendous change from head to toe. No longer are events just a series of speakers, Power Point slides and brown bag lunches. Today's corporations and event attendees alike are looking for unique ways to maximize the gathering hundreds if not thousands of guests. 

As a corporate planner, it's important to embrace these trends to create one-of-a-kind events that will trigger higher attendance rates and attendee satisfaction.  

Bonnie Dannen is the President and co-founder of BBJ Linen, a premier linen rental company offering fashion-forward table linen and accessories for the event industry. Since starting the company in 1983 with her college friend Judy Goldberg, Bonnie has helped lead the company to become the largest special event linen rental company in the United States. Her dedication to providing event industry professionals with exquisite designs and the latest trends in event décor, have helped BBJ Linen become the premier provider for event décor and table fashions including table linen, runners, and overlays as well as chair accessories and chargers.