Just as the business landscape has evolved immensely over the past decade, so has the corporate events industry. Over the past five years, the industry has focused heavily on the rise of event technology and the emergence of Millennials. Although this may cause some feelings of uneasiness, it's still entirely possible to adapt and thrive in today's event space. Here are six things to consider when planning an event to ensure you are adapting to the changes happening in the industry.
Make Events Experiential
When attendees walk into a ballroom filled with rows of chairs, they know what they're in for: a long day of lectures. With attention spans shrinking and workloads and expectations growing, you need to grab your attendees' attention the moment they walk in and hold onto it. One of the best ways to do this is by moving away from static seating and instead giving attendees a hands-on experience. Experiential events create a new environment that, from the moment attendees walk in, captures their attention and imagination, and ultimately leads to better engagement and participation as they work together to solve problems and build relationships.
Be Digitally Present
Smartphones are the uninvited attendees that event planners have been dealing with for years, battling to regain the attention of their attendees. Today, many planners know it's the norm, and instead of fighting it, are using the phones to their advantage -- simplifying their attendee experience and meeting them where they are. From event apps that feature the day's agenda and a map of the venue, to live tweeting and an event hashtags, to live polls that allow you to receive real-time feedback, there are many positive ways for event planners to steal back the coveted attention of the attendee.
Be Socially Responsible
In today's world, people have access to the current state of the economic, political, and cultural climate at nearly any given moment, meaning they are more aware and tuned in than ever before. This is hugely important to event planners! When planning all aspects of your next event, pay special attention to the optics of it and find creative ways to make it the most enjoyable and impactful for everyone in attendance.
Opt for Non-Traditional
There was once a time in the corporate events industry that keynote/lecture-style was the be-all, end-all approach. No longer is this the case. The influence of Millennials and Generation X is hard to ignore here. They crave corporate events that talk with them, not at them, and provide something truly valuable that makes the time spent away from the office feel worth it. For event planners to adapt to this change in thinking, it may be time to throw away the blueprint from years past, break away from what has been done previously, and create something that reinforces the key message of the event and the needs of the audience in all aspects.
In the same realm as needing to be socially responsible, event planners today are being challenged by their stakeholders and their attendees to intentionally focus on alternatives to classic event elements (such as venues, catering and giveaways) that are environmentally friendly and sustainable. Although it's challenging, event planners need to discern what will be wasteful or over-the-top in the eyes of the attendees and what will be just right.
In a world where nearly every aspect of an attendee's day-to-day life is personalized, corporate events need to be, as well. Attendees will notice the little details that make the event just right for a certain audience at a certain company, so it's important to take the steps to do so because it will influence how they remember the event. From food that caters to the needs of the audience, to pre- and post-event communications that feature each attendee's name, the small things can add up to one big, long-lasting impression.
With 2019 events quickly approaching, event planners will want to weigh their current plans and any future plans against these aspects of today's corporate events. When all are considered, the result could be significant to the success of the event and all future events as well.
Sue Wigston is the chief operating officer of experiential learning company Eagle's Flight. She is a trusted partner and organizational development expert with a proven track record of successfully leading culture transformation in Fortune 500 companies and is an authority on training and development.