Four design and technology-led event trends for 2024
Cvent presented its annual webinar to share the key trends shaping events in the year ahead. Mike Fletcher listened in and here, he details four of the discussed trends for 2024.
Trend 1: AI experimentation grows
Artificial Intelligence’s ability to automate manual processes and analyse larger swathes of audience data, along with the rise of chatbot technology known as generative AI, has been widely heralded by planners, venues and marketers.
It has already empowered them to achieve more with fewer resources and reduce the time invested in laborious tasks so that more time can be spent on creative or longer-term strategic endeavours.
Chatbots now provide answers to the most frequently asked questions, while campaign emails, website copy, session descriptions, and RFPs for sourcing venues can all be automated.
AI-powered matchmaking and content recommendation tools are also improving the attendee experience. They can analyse profiles and interests before suggesting who attendees should network with or which sessions may be of greater interest.
AI experimentation will continue throughout 2024. It will help mine the huge amount of data generated by event marketing campaigns, registration, pre-and post-event surveys and event apps.
It will also help evaluate engagement, improve the content, write marketing and website communications, and personalise the attendee experience with informed recommendations and targeted suggestions.
Trend 2: Engagement is reimagined
In return for the considerable time and effort of attending a meeting or event ‘in person’, today’s attendees expect to be fully immersed in both the content and event design.
Their reasons for showing up, therefore, are being more carefully considered so that planners can maximise engagement points throughout the attendee journey and help attendees achieve desired outcomes.
By thinking about the audience first and what attendees want to gain from being present at an event, planners will experiment with more ways to engage the senses and evoke positive emotions.
We’ll see more opportunities for networking, more ‘theatre’ and live entertainment, better use of video, music and creative lighting, wellness areas, less passive listening and more interaction, participation and skills-based learning. Plus, we’ll see more strategic use of app data from engagement tools such as polls, Q&A and gamification to develop tailored, more engaging content.
Consequently, planners will become more proficient in tracking, reporting on, and activating engagement data across their programmes to understand what attendees and audiences want and where improvements can be made.
They’ll also develop better narratives for why attendees should download the event app, plus the benefits of filling out surveys, participating in polls and engaging more with the ‘live’ event.
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Trend 3: Accessibility becomes a priority
Ongoing improvements in accessibility are needed so that meetings and events don’t leave anyone out. Globally, one in six people have some form of disability, according to the World Health Organisation. In the US, it’s 27% of adults and in the UK it’s just under a quarter of the population. So it’s a fundamental aspect of event design.
Planners, hospitality professionals and marketers will become more intentional when designing for greater inclusivity and accessibility.
For planners and marketers, this means asking more of the right questions of registrants and visitors and then building accessibility into plans from the outset.
For venues, it’s about supporting planners by offering accessible infrastructure such as screens for captioning and ramps for stages as standard, without charging extra or having to be asked.
By being able to ask the right audience questions and by partnering with a supportive venue, we’ll see improvements including:
More accessible design for digital elements such as websites and event apps
Better registration that allows people with disabilities to communicate their needs and requirements to the planner
Wider aisles at exhibitions
Wheelchair zones in conference halls and break-out rooms
Venues offering stages with ramps as standard
Facilities for service animals
Sign language interpreters and captioning
More wellness spaces such as quiet rooms
Trend 4: Rise of the Technologist
A key technology-based role that will continue to emerge and grow in demand is that of the technologist.
Some 24% of organisations already have a dedicated event technologist, according to Cvent’s data and 63% of those technologists currently sit within an organisation’s meetings and events department.
So what is an event technologist?
The role is still evolving but currently, they provide a valuable resource for combining technology management with RFP and supplier review management, registration and website project management, data analysis and reporting, research and development, plus on-site support.
In 2024, more companies will formalise the event technologist role, standardising the responsibilities and providing a path for career growth.
Doing so will drive sector innovation and increase understanding around the opportunities of data and AI on processes and workflows, plus what the future holds for live streaming, personalisation, and more.
2024 is a pivotal year for event design and technology-led trends. It will be interesting to watch how these unfold.
For more key trends predicted to guide the MICE industry this year, read the IBTM World Trends Report 2024.
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