2020 Event trend report

Trends are a tempting double edge sword. Embracing them can put you at the forefront of your industry, and using them wisely can push your brand to new heights. On the other hand, if you incorporate the wrong trend at the wrong time or don’t execute it properly, things can quickly turn sour, leaving people feeling confused about your ability to execute a vision. Yikes. 

Writing our trend report comes with great responsibility--we can’t continue without issuing this warning: at all costs, avoid using all of these trends at once. Try these event trends out one at a time to get a feel for them and see if you can incorporate some of them into your event planning tool kit. 

Marketing - your message, more places

  • Content marketing: It’s not just about selling tickets - it’s about telling the story of your brand and your event. Content marketing is big-picture and it can be overwhelming for event planners. Try starting with a storyboard format - beginning at the end (the end being your event), fill in how you want your story to unfold. Use every platform available to you, like public relations, traditional marketing, digital marketing and social media to tell your full story. 
  • Shoppable posts: Shoppable posts allow you to upsell opportunities, sell merch and promote sponsor products to your attendees (and even those who aren’t attending your event). Setting up shoppable posts happens first through Facebook, then can be integrated into Instagram. Pinterest is a hidden gem for shoppable posts, depending on your audience. 
  • Interactive event content: In addition to attending your event, what are the unique experiences your event can provide people? Think about providing elements that are slightly unconventional, and incorporate physicality and participation. It’s less about passive interaction, and more about active engagement. 

Formats - shake it up

  • Hybrids (cars and coffee): Consider your standard format, flip it and reverse it (thanks Missy!). For example, host your yoga workshop in a boardroom at the top of an office tower. The point of a hybrid event is to shake up the energy and refresh your guests perspective. 
  • Morning coffee hour: It’s like happy hour, only in the morning! Morning events get people up a  little early, plus they are slightly more inclusive for people with school or daycare aged children, so everybody wins. These events are low-cost and if you host the event regularly, it’s a great excuse to try all of the coffee in your area. 
  • Project based events: Have the crux of your event format focus on project based activities - decorating cupcakes, building a flower crown, pickling vegetables, the world is your oyster! 

Technology - the future is now

  • Using technology to be environmentally conscious: Embrace the challenge of going entirely green. From e-tickets to event-coordinated ride shares, offset your footprint by making sure everything to do with your event has a low environmental impact. 
  • Collecting attendee hyper focused data during your event: Activity tracking is the wave of the future, with attendees given wristbands with chips or QR codes that track and monitor what they’re participating in at your event. Sponsors really love working with  the experiential marketing opportunities that can come out of something like this. 
  • Branded event apps: Invest some budget into creating a branded festival app so you guests can monitor activity options, get updates on schedules and relevant notifications throughout the day. 
  • Augmented reality: Augmented reality, or virtual reality, gives you an opportunity to transport your guests to new places. Use it for sponsor product demos, tours and plain old fun experiences, like walking on the moon, and earn some bonus points and social buzz. 

And now for something a little light-hearted… 

Themes - go big or go home! 

  • 80’s neon theme: Glow sticks, hair scrunchies, leg warmers, sunglasses, except all in the brightest neon colors you can possibly imagine. 
  • Urban art: Street art is often used to communicate powerful messages and is a great medium to inspire your guests. Not every city has a Banksy or a Shepard Fairey, but every city has a thriving graffiti community. Explore local street art and see if there is a way to work together. 
  • 90’s mall glam: Two words--glamour shots. All the best parts of Clueless, brought together for a fun event theme. 
  • Literary Genius: To lit-git to quit, right? (too far.) Use books as decor throughout your event, including your table decor and signage, as inspiration for your breakout panels, and as questions for your ice breakers.


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