Top 12 Event Industry Trends in 2022

The event industry has seen changes galore over the past two years. The COVID-19 pandemic created a lot of uncertainty, fear, and solitude but also accelerated technical innovations and helped people realize how much they value human connection.

What does all that mean for the event industry in 2022? Let’s take a look at these trends:

1. The Hybrid Experience

In one study, 97% of people said they’re expecting to see a rise in hybrid events.

In another, 70% said they’re expecting this change to be the cornerstone of the events industry in 2022.

That’s not unexpected.

The COVID-19 pandemic triggered some massive innovations in event tech. Thus, hybrid events now work seamlessly from the audience’s point of view.

Creating this hybrid experience is doubtlessly one of the leading emerging event industry trends that will mark 2022.

Implementing this strategy brings you many benefits because you can target different markets and thus, sell more tickets. Apart from more extensive reach and more profit, you’ll contribute to reducing the carbon footprint too.

What you’ll have to do:

  • Leverage the best visual and audio streaming tools, as well as software technology to develop your hybrid platform.
  • Learn new safety and privacy protocols.
  • Find innovative ways to facilitate both face-to-face and virtual interaction.
  • Hire the right team to handle these hybrid events to the T, starting with a savvy event experience manager.
  • Customize your event experience for each audience member by leveraging data.

2. Asynchronous Event Experiences

Asynchronous events are on the rise too.

One good example is this event organized by the Association for Distance Education and Independent Learning. Various industry professionals contributed to this conference by pre-recording their presentations.

Each day saw different presentations that triggered various discussions.

Thus, participants could engage with the content they wanted–or had time–to watch.

That’s the definition of an asynchronous event. An asynchronous event occurs over multiple time zones and locations, and includes on-demand content. Delivering asynchronous content will benefit all your events, whether live, virtual or hybrid, because:

  • You can personalize the live content you offer for each time zone. Thus, you attract a more diverse audience.
  • You can offer on-demand content that triggers more sales. As such, your ROI will be considerably more significant. Also, you and your attendees enjoy more flexibility, easier participation, and even deeper conversations.

Asynchronous events aren’t all roses, though:

  • If you’re not careful, some conversations could drag on and, as a result, become less efficient. For example, brainstorming ideas could quickly lose momentum.
  • Your attendees can feel disconnected faster, mainly if they engage with your content separately and don’t participate in real-time conversations.
  • Your asynchronous event can lose the spontaneity that defines in-person events, especially with pre-recorded talks.

What you’ll have to do:

  • Find the right software to help you implement several asynchronous methods (e.g., personalized content or customized cancellation policies).
  • Think of strategies that allow more spontaneity and collaboration between audience members.
  • Ensure the platform you’re using doesn’t glitch and that your Internet connection is speedy.
  • Allow attendees more opportunities to engage with others outside your actual event, such as a social media group.

3. Gathering Information from Attendees before an Event

The on-demand approach to building an event benefits you, the organizer, because you’ll know how to fine-tune that content.

But it also benefits the audience, who get a more personalized experience.

So, gathering information from participants before creating the event allows you to hone the content and engage with your audience better.

What you’ll have to do:

  • Get your hands on the best tools that allow seamless data collection.
  • Think of the best incentives for your audience, such as discounts, exciting opportunities, or gamification.

4. Utilizing Machine Learning and AI

Machine learning and AI were always going to become part and parcel of our lives. However, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated tech developments so that leveraging AI in your event isn’t that futuristic anymore.

It’s a reality.

This reality is a game-changer, especially for larger events that:

  • Stretch to at least 50 sessions, or
  • Have at least 5,000 attendees.

Benefits include:

  • Better networking. Instead of relying on random connections between participants, you can leverage AI to connect specific participants based on their mutual interests, needs, or goals.
  • Chatbots. You can use chatbots to engage your audience and answer people’s questions. That way, you’ll save a lot of time and resources.
  • Personalized event experience. Machine learning and AI help you get better insights into your audience’s minds based on what interests them and how they react in specific situations.
  • No language barriers. AI can translate languages and, as a result, connect participants with different cultural backgrounds. Besides, you also get an instant translation of your web pages and content so you can target diverse markets.

What you’ll have to do:

  • Use matchmaking software to connect similar attendees and facilitate interaction.
  • Ensure your chatbots respond promptly and seamlessly. Humanize their answers and options as much as possible.
  • Leverage top-notch analytics tools to understand your audience.

5. Creating Multiple Smaller Virtual Events

Before the pandemic, many companies organized annual events. However, 2021 showed a different emerging trend:

Holding a series of virtual events during the year.

These smaller-scale events:

  • Cover more diverse topics.
  • Feel more intimate.
  • Are more frequent, so they can raise brand awareness and improve brand loyalty.
  • Create better engagement.
  • Are easier to organize because you have fewer participants to coordinate at a time.

What you’ll have to do:

  • Continue to hone your platform.
  • Keep communication lines open with your audience to gather more valuable insights into what they want.
  • Build an online community on social media to connect your participants.
  • Keep researching to find the best speakers and topics.
  • Track event metrics to understand what interests your audience.

6. More Meaning for Live Events

The COVID-19 pandemic led to some giant technological leaps, some of which may isolate people even more than government-imposed quarantine.

But:

The pandemic also showed that people crave engagement and meaning.

That’s why in-person events should become more meaningful. Otherwise, your attendees can simply choose to stay home and watch that event from the comfort of their couch.

That’s why live events should emphasize the experience and connection people get through that event more than the information.

What you’ll have to do:

  • Continue to improve event quality.
  • Focus your content on current societal issues and values, such as diversity, sustainability, and education.
  • Emphasize the human connection behind your event as well as content.

7. The Metaverse

The metaverse is so new that your spellchecker may not even recognize it as a word yet. However, the metaverse will quickly become a valid option for the event industry.

Thus, you’ll soon face this essential decision: whether to use the metaverse.

Sure, this platform allows your audience a more immersive experience, but they’ll need that headset that many people don’t have.

And choosing the wrong headset can completely mess with participants’ experiences.

However, the benefits are plentiful:

  • You can have unlimited attendance.
  • Participants can experience the universe you create for them.
  • Your audience can shop for products directly inside the event. Ralph Lauren is already an expert at hosting events in the metaverse. Gucci is also selling massively in the metaverse.
  • You can build whatever conference hall you want without being constrained by space or even the rules of physics.

What you’ll have to do:

  • Choose the right software to create a customized metaverse for your audience’s needs.
  • Don’t rush headfirst into the metaverse without analyzing if it’s a practical solution for your envisaged events.

8. Mental Health and Wellness for Employees

The pandemic has also brought to the forefront issues like mental health and wellbeing, engendering more honest talks and plans aiming to find the best ways to improve people’s work-life balance.

That’s a huge win.

As such, event organizers will be encouraged to treat their employees more like people and less like replaceable cogs.

What you’ll have to do:

  • Focus on your employees’ mental wellbeing.
  • Incentivize them appropriately.
  • Shorten work hours.
  • Offer more work flexibility.
  • Organize more face-to-face opportunities.
  • Encourage diversity at the workplace.

9. Sustainability

The event industry has traditionally been highly wasteful. Think of the single-use plastic and signage, or the free samples that end up being thrown away.

However, sustainability is paramount in 2022, and the event industry will have to keep up.

Everyone’s going to do their share to reduce the carbon footprint and the impact we as people have on this planet.

What you’ll have to do:

  • Minimize waste of any kind.
  • Reduce paper products.
  • Choose green supplies, transport alternatives, environmentally friendly lighting and venues.
  • Consider hosting outdoor events.

10. Backup Plans

If the millions of canceled plans and events in 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we need backup plans. For the past two years, nations worldwide have been going in and out of lockdowns and travel restrictions.

That led to a tremendous amount of stress and uncertainty.

Luckily, those are two critical ingredients for event planners.

You’ve probably learned by now that these days you have to build well-planned but flexible events that can adapt to ever-changing conditions.

What you’ll have to do:

  • Hone your contingency planning skills.
  • For every event you plan, make sure you have crisis scenarios in place.
  • Be prepared with virtual/hybrid alternatives or expansions at very short notice.

11. Data Security

With the ascent of virtual conferences, data security has become a priority because hackers already have their eyes set on the event industry.

Besides, it’s your responsibility to protect your attendee’s data.

Remember, you need this information to customize your events and engage more people.

The amount of personal data collected worldwide is jaw-dropping, but so is the risk of it getting in the wrong hands.

What you’ll have to do:

  • Implement security protocols for data integrity (e.g., SSL, firewalls).
  • Educate your audience before the event.
  • Market your event directly to your target audience instead of popularizing it over the Internet.
  • Protect your content and hide video/streaming URLs.
  • Pre-screen attendees during the registering process.
  • Choose a secure platform for your event.
  • Implement secure passwords or, better still, two-step verification whenever possible.

12. Influencers

Influencer marketing is on the rise because influencers already have the trust of their followers, and they can use their relationship to extend that to you. Besides, content on social media like TikTok and Instagram can often go viral — if the content creators know what they’re doing.

But that’s a huge discussion.

The point is that the event industry can also benefit from using influencers. Here’s why:

  • Influencers can easily make an event popular on social media, thus attracting more attendees. At the same time, they can astutely create the fear of missing out on the same goal.
  • Your event can include micro and nano-influencers who are experts within their niches. Thus, you tap-in to their credibility and expertise.
  • These influencers already have good insights into your audience’s mind, so you can leverage that knowledge to create a better event.

What you’ll have to do:

  • Choose influencers who identify with your brand’s values and seamlessly connect to your audience.
  • Assess your collaboration cost to straighten out your contract’s terms from the get-go.
  • Facilitate online communities and communication.
  • Consider long-term partnerships with these influencers to create cohesive marketing campaigns in the future.

Wrapping Up

The twelve event industry trends above showcase the importance of human connection, flexibility, and attention to the important issues of today’s world.

However, the core principle that leads the events industry has remained unchanged:

You will have to follow your audience’s lead. Focus on their insights and leverage them to create fabulous events in 2022.

About the author:

David Morneau is the co-founder and CEO of inBeat, a hybrid micro-influencer marketing SAAS/agency that helps brands scale their marketing efforts. He has helped over 200 DTC brands to date.

This was originally posted on SpeakerHub Skillcamp.

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