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Personalization, Sustainability and Apps Stand Out in 2020 Event Trends

“Experience is not something that you try to emulate. It’s part of your design. It’s part of your culture. One of the most valuable things a destination or a venue can offer is their support in incorporating their uniqueness and culture into that experience, and that extends to professional services and expertise.”

That’s from an article on today’s Event Management Blog (now a part of Skift) from Julius Solaris. I recently visited Bob and Joseph Coleman of the Coleman Report at an event they did here in Washington, D.C. for their small business banking audience. The happy hour mixer, which preceded a full-day event, took place in a very impressive law firm office. As the Event MB article said, the venue enhanced the uniqueness and culture of Coleman’s event. People were smiling, interacting and felt comfortable and important in a top DC building near the White House.

I’ve seen a lot of event trend articles lately; here are some that I believe apply to SIPA members:

Gamification remains popular. In their 100 event trends for 2020, The Event MB Studio team found that 10% of the apps they analyzed listed gamification features as part of the app. “Drive traffic through the exhibit floor by rewarding points for connecting to sponsors’ booths; let people win rewards for acing a quiz on the keynote. Leaderboards and awards have proven particularly effective, as attendees compete against one another for more recognition as well.” Our BIMS event had a very popular engagement leaderboard with a 2020 registration as the prize.

The new job: event technologist. “Event technologists will be largely responsible for planning and implementing the technological strategy of their organization’s events programs,” wrote the Event MB team. “They may be involved in sourcing the technology, and will probably be the point-of-contact for tech suppliers. Event technologists will need to be problem solvers with a strong penchant for data collection and analysis. Event technologists will take event and organization KPIs and translate the data gleaned from their tech stack into ROI reports.”

Diverse speaker lineups. There’s no excuse anymore for a speaker lineup that lacks women or young people or people of color. I find that it just takes a little more digging—a look at your LinkedIn connections and their connections, or going through the week’s headlines in your niche—but it could be well worth it because a diverse speaker lineup should also diversify, and increase, your attendees.

Better analytics dashboards. “For 2020, I see an appetite for aggregated analytics dashboards,” said Adam Parry, editor, Event Industry News, in an article on the site G2Planet. “These dashboards pull data from multiple sources such as CRM’s, registration solutions, marketing platforms, and social media. They will help whole organizations make data-driven decisions rather than basing them on historical experience or opinion.”

Tracking onsite engagement. “The biggest tech trend will be analyzing attendee behavior as part of an integrated event management pipeline,” said JT Long, content chief, Smart Meetings, in her response. “[That pipeline will] track activity from interest to registration, emotional responses, engagement with content, and learning over time after the event to inform better future content and create lasting relationships with the company and other attendees.”

Sustainability. Event organizers are looking for apps that reduce their paper consumption and waste, doing away with the need for big programs. You’re seeing more vegan choices for meals and snacks. Look at past years’ budgets to see what areas you over-used and which were on par with your budget. Identify which area you want to target and track the biggest impact.

Even more personalization. As I mentioned yesterday in the story on workshops, some organizations are reaching out to attendees before a conference to help them set up a personalized agenda—and even to know which groups to put them in at a workshop. A recent study by Salesforce found that 84% of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business. And delivering personalized experiences drives customer loyalty, with 70% saying a company’s understanding of their individual needs influences their loyalty.