5 Trends to Create Meaningful Corporate Event Experiences
By Grace Ranstrom, Associate Creative Director, InVision Communications
Corporate event attendees today are a far less captive audience than in decades past. When attendees have the entirety of the internet one swipe away on the phones in their pockets, event teams have to work all the harder to ensure the experience provided is worthy of every individuals’ attention. To compete for the eventgoers’ time against the freshest memes and latest breaking news, we must continue to actively evolve our events to engage attendees and deliver more value to both the individual and the event stakeholders.
How B2B Corporate Events Are Evolving
Individuals are attending half as many conferences as they were 10 years ago. Today, driving event attendance takes some skill: You have to target the right people and strike a balance between useful information, intimate connections, and a touch of fun. Mix that with engaging posts on social media and you'll create an emotional relationship with the audience that generates a healthy dose of FOMO for those not attending.
5 Corporate Event Trends For 2020
Integrating these corporate event trends into your programs in 2020 will help you create meaningful experiences that drive attendance year after year:
1. Face-to-Face Connection
It seems obvious, but conferences are about more than just sitting in the audience and listening to a speaker. Eighty-two percent of attendees are there for networking opportunities more than anything else. If they didn't care about meeting people face-to-face, they would be sitting at their desks watching online trainings and video streams.
Use the desire to network to your advantage and drive engagement with planned networking sessions and surprise opportunities for people to connect, like pop-up executive chats and meet and greets. Attendees should feel like they won't get this experience anywhere else — they're in the right place, at the right time, with the right people.
Even corporate events with hundreds (or thousands) of attendees can treat each person as an individual. Personalization can range from a simple individualized agenda for each attendee to advanced B2B experiential marketing, offering multiple ways to experience every hour of an event. It's not just about creating a more enjoyable event for each attendee: If done right, hyper-personalization increases marketing-spend efficiency and ROI by as much as 30%.
InVision found out firsthand how effective this is at Box's BoxWorks event. Our strategy and digital innovation groups developed BoxWorks Explorer, a proprietary technology solution, for this event to deliver a more personalized on-site experience for attendees. While BoxWorks Explorer captured valuable data and insights that could be used to enhance the live event in real-time, it also provided an opportunity for post-event engagement analysis. BoxWorks Explorer took attendees' individual needs into account and enabled them to create fully personalized attendee journeys, optimizing their time and energy.
3. Enhanced Learning
Corporate B2B events should be engaging and should make use of opportunities for improved learning. It's a prime opportunity for professional development and job-related training, which 70% of employees say influences whether they stay at their jobs. While the general and keynote sessions might be limited purely by the size of the audience, training and breakout sessions have the potential to be immersive, fruitful learning environments. Utilize flexible room arrangements and the decreased audience size to bring the group together and to allow attendees to learn in the way that's best for them, whether that's hands-on, auditory, visual, or kinesthetic.
For Oracle OpenWorld last year, InVision transformed the standard breakout ballrooms into open environments to create a flow of information and movement. Individual radio-based headsets made content delivery within the campus-style environment both possible and effective, granting attendees flexibility and ownership of their learning.
Sustainability is no longer optional — and that means going beyond making sure the event has recycling bins. Trends in corporate events show that increased involvement in waste management on every level of the event ecosystem is an integral piece of a successful event. In fact, most people want companies to take the lead on climate change initiatives, and 90% of event venues consider sustainability one of their most important goals. We all know the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle,” but now it's time to put it into practice.
Find ways to reduce the footprint of your event by sourcing alternatives to single-use items and offering more carbon-conscious food options. There's no rule that says eco-friendly can't also be attendee-friendly, so this is an opportunity to create something interesting, such as a lunch container that's 100% compostable, designed with the planet and your brand in mind. Also, take a look at your event swag and avoid repetitive items or let attendees pick their own. After all, you can use only so many backpacks.
InVision has found that recycling slides, signs, and other content is a winning and sustainable strategy. We designed a holistic, branded program that engaged Siemens’ global sales team year-round, not just at the event. This included tools that ensure ongoing consistency in messaging and process globally. We also created a strategic road map, a two-year communications plan, a presentation training and support resource portal, and a global playbook to ensure efficiency and overall messaging alignment. This holistic plan resulted in a higher-quality experience for the attendees, as well as increased budgetary efficiencies for the event team.
5. The 'Cherry on Top'
The “cherry on top” is the piece of your event that goes above and beyond the usual to make the experience memorable and special. While typical “surprise and delight” elements can be all sparkle and no substance, the “cherry” is an extension of the thematic “red thread” that ties together the whole experience, providing an opportunity to take your event from good to incredible.
Make the most of this opportunity to set your event apart by putting yourself in the shoes of the attendee and crafting a meaningful experience that ties the event together. Does your morning keynote start early? Perhaps a simple coffee bar right outside the general session room would be a welcome addition. Or maybe your guests have traveled a long way and a refreshing hand massage station near registration would be a thoughtful touch. It takes being empathetic — and part psychic — to do this, but if your thoughtfulness is executed properly, attendees will leave feeling understood, acknowledged, and eager to spread the word in their professional social circles.
In 2020, watch how these corporate event trends evolve to optimize attendee experience and bring your event to life.
Do you want to learn how to incorporate these trends into your event plans in 2020 and beyond? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.