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6 Biggest Event Trends of 2020!

It makes sense that the emphasis on personalization will gain even more traction in 2020. With the support of new technology and innovations, the event market is slated to become even more experiential over the next decade. Here’s how to keep up- and stand out in a new, pioneering decade of events!

Event Trend #1: Sending More Personalized Content

Sending more personalized, data-driven content takes some extra time and effort, but it’s simpler than it seems.
Sending more personalized, data-driven content takes some extra time and effort, but it’s simpler than it seems. Image by

How will event businesses be sending more personalized content? By going the extra mile during event promotions. Instead of just addressing emails by name, send content related to their past purchases and shared interests. For example, if one of your attendees purchased your eBook on a specific topic, send them more content related to that topic. It doesn’t have to cost you anything- it could be something as simple as the link to and videography from a prior conference or event dedicated to the topic.

This is where your demographic and psychographic information really comes into play. Yes, personalized content should be based partially on demographic information such as age and location, but it should be crafted more specifically around psychographics: What emotionally drives their purchases? What motivates them to make the purchases and consume the content that they do?

It will probably come as no surprise that advertisement is also becoming even more personalized in 2020. It’s been long-debated whether customers absorb or filter out ads that interrupt their Facebook scrolls or other media consumption- some of which may be related to work. But research actually shows that many people don’t necessarily mind being interrupted if the ads are related to things that actually interest them.

Thus, your marketing in 2020 should be data-driven. If that sounds intimidating, you’re not alone. You may not be able to afford cutting edge marketing teams with access to the latest technology- and if that’s the case, don’t worry. Some simple things you can do may take a little extra time, but they go a long way.

For example, including demographic information in your campaign strategy. You may know a lot about your customers’ user behavior, but there will always be things you don’t know. Let’s say that in order to generate more product sales, you think it would be helpful to know about their spending habits and yearly income levels. In other words, you want to know how much your customers can actually afford so you can better target your promotions.

In order to glean this information, there are public databases you can access, such as census data. Sometimes personalized marketing is more about strategy than spending. In fact, that may be the case more often than not.

Event Trend #2: Adding Breakout Sessions to Event Agendas

Breakout sessions help your attendees get more out of your event by focusing more specifically on what they’re interested in.
Breakout sessions help your attendees get more out of your event by focusing more specifically on what they’re interested in. Image by

Breakout sessions arguably constitute the most popular 2020 trend in the event industry. The industry started utilizing it more in 2019, but it’s expected to gain momentum going forward. Breakout sessions happen at conferences and workshops, so they’re meant to be pack a lot of value and content into a small time frame. Easy example- let’s say your conference is about event trends for the upcoming year. As you know, this is a topic with several categories and subcategories. If you know many of your attendees likely have a special interest in event tech, create a breakout session that focuses only on that topic. Breakout sessions help attendees get more out of your event by giving them the opportunity to focus on what they care about most.

Since breakout sessions are a part of the greater agenda at your event, make sure they’re related to the main topic. They should also be kept to their designated times and not allowed to run over, as this disrupts your overall agenda.

Event Trend #3: Utilizing Trends Across Marketing Channels

Part of being successful in this industry is to keep up with the trends as they come- and use them in a way that makes you stand out. It’s a double challenge, so once you’ve found some tried and true marketing strategies that yield the desired results, it can be hard to change things up. It’s totally normal to worry that you’ll lose the progress you’ve made if you risk it all on a new models for acquisition, engagement, and so on.

But the truth is, you don’t have to give up your fail-safe strategies. You can use trends from one marketing channel to inform a new one. Multi-channel marketing, also known as cross-channel marketing, actually makes things easier on customers. It allows them to consume contact and make purchases using whatever method they feel comfortable with. Think about it: Just as no two customers are alike, they don’t all shop the same way, either.

For example, if you’ve been relying mostly on content and email marketing, you’ve probably worked out how to use SEO to optimize your web copy. But you can also use this data to learn about the commercial value of the keywords you’re using, which should be well-targeted to your audience.

To break it down, let’s use event planning as an example again. Let’s say your main focus has been on driving attendance, but now you’re working with a sponsor, and your sponsor’s company just launched a new product. Your goal is to generate product sales in a limited amount of time. Let’s assume that the product is the first of its kind to be offered by that company, so buyers are likely to be at the “beginning stage” of shopping. Their searches may be as simple as, “Where can I find (insert product type here)”.

What SEO keywords can be used to market to buyers in the beginning stage? Guess what- your tried and true SEO model can also give you this information as well. Applying current marketing channels to new goals for a new year can be as simple as that.

Using multiple, research-based strategies across online advertising, content marketing, email and direct mail, retail and storefront, and mobile marketing makes personalization easier. It also strengthens customer feedback loops.

Event Trend #4: Breaking Tradition with Unconventional Venues

This is another trend that you’ve probably seen in 2019. But a recent Social Tables survey concluded that up to 92% of event planners and venue owners reported they believe events are more likely to be booked outside of a hotel than they were five years ago. Researching non-traditional venues takes time and effort, and it can be expensive. But as business culture becomes less formal and more “festivalized”, attendees are looking to have valuable experiences, not just lectures with cocktails. So we’re giving you some increasingly popular options that are quickly replacing bare-bones hotel rooms as the new normal.

New research from the Experience Institute shows reveals that 71% of people consider the destination as a factor in deciding to attend a meeting. 20-30% say it’s the deciding factor. Everywhere you look, concrete, statistical evidence of an experiential culture is cropping up.

Cozy spaces such as lofts, rooftops, and even coworking spaces give meetings and conferences a “homey”, intimate feel. While still supporting a professional agenda, they make guests feel more relaxed and comfortable opening up about their own relevant ideas and experiences. Scenic views, monochromatic or “green” themes, and artsy aesthetics all add to the “resort culture” of events. Going forward, people want to be informed and entertained at the same time. Unique venues make attendees feel like a part of an exclusive experience or culture. And choosing venues your unique attendees would enjoy keeps you on-brand.

Invoke the famous Maya Angelou quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” When people particularly millennials, attend events, they want to be made to feel something memorable.

Event Trend #5 Continue to Focus on Sustainability

2020 is putting even more emphasis on sustainability in the event industry- it’s becoming a norm, not a specialty.
2020 is putting even more emphasis on sustainability in the event industry- it’s becoming a norm, not a specialty. Image by

Expect the continued focus on sustainability in the event industry. As people become more conscious and environmentally responsible, they’ll want to attend events that are aligned with their values. But some sustainability trends in 2020 will surprise you. Here’s the insider scoop.

Event businesses are not only prioritizing sustainability, they’re communicating it loud and clear to attendees. It is projected that as sustainability becomes more mainstream, marketing strategies will reflect this. Companies will be communicating strategies, progress, and plans to ethically comply with environmental safety standards. Creative, experiential marketing strategies like storytelling will engage attendees in an industry-wide effort to prioritize sustainability- but not at the cost of consumerism.

Despite the cost of sustainable events, attendees will expect experiences to be more sophisticated and personalized than ever. How can you keep up with the demand without compromising creativity and aesthetic? For one thing, sustainable strategies rely heavily on digital technologies, which actually reduce your workload and expenses in many ways. In the last few years, mobile event apps and digital technologies have saved the industry millions of dollars on print costs. That includes the onsite printing we used to rely upon during live events.

Although the live event experience is still paramount, virtual events are setting a new standard. With sophisticated graphics, AI tech, and cohesive, collaborative agendas, virtual events can arguably be just as engaging as live events.To bring virtual events to life, event planners are using chat features, interactive Q & A, and plugins that allow attendees to communicate with you and each other before and after your event. Leading up to a virtual event, event planners have already begun to personalize email lists and content. For example, they might advertise certain breakout sessions or keynote speakers much more heavily to people who have shown interest in related topics.

At the same time, attendees do want face-to-face time. Unless you’ve already been hosting only virtual events, making all your events hybrid diminishes your brand and the attendee experience. See our article on creating the ultimate sustainable events on a small budget- we’ve got some research-based, creative tips that really do work.

With live and virtual events, sustainability is becoming a standard rather than an afterthought. There are more tools and resources at your fingertips than ever, so start developing clear, measurable sustainability strategies- and track your progress publically, so that your attendees know.

Event Trend #6: Optimizing Live Event Experiences

Mainly, this one’s about event tech. Live polling apps are becoming increasingly popular, which give you real time feedback about the attendee experience. Tracking experiences as your agenda unfolds is an invaluable tool, and here’s why: On average, people forget 90% of what they learned at a conference or meeting after it ends. That means they forget much of the specifics they liked or disliked about your event- and those specifics inform your marketing strategies and help you improve future events.

Yes, experiential marketing compensates for some of that- as implicated in the famous Maya Angelou quote referenced above, people forget what you said and did, but not how you made them feel. Still, specifics are vital in this industry, so live feedback is in many ways the most authentic. And with live polling, it’s yours.

Technology is also making conferences more personalized and efficient for attendees. “Silent conferences” allow more than one speaker to present in the same place; attendees simply headphones that allow them to toggle between speakers. This way, you can add more content with your agenda, which lets you please more people. When attendees feel like they have control over the agenda, they’re much happier.



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