Industry association Professional Conference Management Association (PCMA) released a study in collaboration with Marriott International to highlight key event trends for the year. The research deliberately invited people outside of the industry to recognise global macrotrends and apply them to events.
The first trend is ‘emotional intelligence’, given that tech is getting smarter with predictive analytics and consumer expectations. “What is scary – and maybe fun at the same time – is by 2022, our smart devices will know more about our emotional state than your actual family,” says Sherrif Karamat, president and CEO for PCMA. “Our devices are smarter because they’re listening constantly to what’s going on. There are wonderful studies out there that talks to the fact that this can do so much more to help our emotional state.”
A big trend is also ‘orchestrated serendipity’, where events are arranging for ‘unexpected moments’ to score attendee attention. “I like the notion that there is a lot of ways that tech can be used to enhance the human face-to-face experience,” says Karamat. “The study looks at not just tech, but human behaviour and what we can do – using tech and other methods – to facilitate face-to-face interaction. But with the person in mind, not the tech.”
The research also brought up a ‘clear sense of space’ as trend, where attendees are increasingly looking to local experiences in their travel. “How do you integrate community into what you do? I don’t travel 2,000km to be in a square room in a hotel for three days and not experience anything. Young people especially want a sense of place. They want real, authentic experiences,” says Karamat.
Other trends highlighted in the report are ‘bigger than oneself’, the concept that event content must have a message and cannot be just a tick in the box. Participants want to experience events that deliver that message down to the smallest detail, and this allows them to meaningfully connect with the experience.
Finally, ‘multimodal designs’ are also on the up, the idea that every event has a unique objective and audience, and that a space must reflect that event’s specific personality and needs. Whether this is reflected through tech infrastructure or architecture, space is critical to an event.