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2019 Event Trends that we love

Key Takeaway for Planners

For events — especially large-scale events — sustainable initiatives are now the expectation.

While sustainable event planning is slowly becoming a must for a majority of events, it’s now an imperative for large-scale events — especially those that set the tone for the industry.

IMEX lived up to that standard this year, reducing single-use plastics and paper cups drastically. The event asked everyone attending the show to bring reusable coffee cups. They crunched the numbers for attendees, letting them know that a reusable cup for just three days of morning coffee would prevent 37,000 cups from going to landfill.

Reusable cups and other similar ideas can make great SWAG while adding a layer of sustainability to your event. And who knows? Your sponsors may just want to cover the costs for you.

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We’re asking everyone attending #IMEX18 to bring reusable coffee cups. If all participants use their own cup for at least their morning coffee for 3 days, it would prevent 37,000 cups going to landfill! Find out more here: 

Key Takeaway for Properties

Sustainability initiatives are your chance to make a positive impact while painting your brand in an equally positive light.

By now, you’ve probably heard about the negative effects of plastic drinking straws on turtles and other marine life. Well Marriott made it a platform by announcing they would remove disposable plastics straws and stirrers across their portfolio of more than 6,500 properties. (That’s more than one billion discarded straws a year.)

While the move by Marriott is a great example of corporate responsibility in action, it’s also an example of powerful brand marketing. Why? Because today, 86% of consumers expect companies to act on social and environmental issues — and they’re more than ready to vote with their dollars.

So whether it’s drinking straws or an onsite produce garden, what is your hotel or venue doing to promote sustainability in events and beyond?

17. Experiences will define events. Creativity will define success.

Last year, 80% of event planners reported more experience creation in their jobs then just two to five years previous. This year, experience creation will continue to define events and the jobs of the planners behind them.

As the bar continually climbs higher for events, planners will have to create more immersive experiences in less time and without additional resources. Venues will need to partner more closely with planners to bring these experiences to life, adding value as creative collaborators in the face of sky-high event expectations.

Ultimately, these experiences will take the perfect mix of creativity, technology, and partnership to produce.

“With my work with PCMA, we all have the same mantra going through our heads: The expectation is high with experiences at events. It’s just not good enough to put your event in a hotel room or convention center with little regard as to the experience around it.”

-Kelly Peacy, Founder of Insight Event Strategy

Key Takeaway for Planners

Successful experiences will take a creative approach to each pillar of the event.

With “holistic” being the buzzword for purposeful experiences, planners need to approach each pillar of the event with the same level of creativity. In addition to personalization, which we’ve already talked about, planners must also prioritize the following three areas:

Content – The key to creative content is dreaming up new event concepts that forego deliver to attendees, instead fostering conversation and interaction.

Destination – The destination, venue, and space should offer opportunities for exploration and authentic interaction, while also serving as a fitting backdrop to the message or purpose.

Technology – How can technology help deliver the message in new ways that engage and awe the audience?

Source: Cvent 2018 Global Planner Sourcing Report

Key Takeaway for Venues

More than ever before, it’s on venues to be partners in experience creation.

93% of venues believe that it’s on them to be partners in creating experiences at least some of the time. This only promises to increase as group prices and expectations for events grow.

Venues who are true partners to planners are poised to see success in 2019 and beyond. When hotels have an active hand in helping events meet their objectives, it becomes the ultimate differentiator to gain repeat business, positive reviews, and word-of-mouth referrals.

18. Safety & event security will still be top of mind.

When we sent out our survey to a mix of 23,000 event planners and venue professionals, 90% of respondents stated that event security should still be a top priority for the industry.

Security is generally one of the larger factors that plays into destination selection, but today’s definition has evolved to encompass a broader scope that includes natural disasters and beyond. Especially following 2017, when two of the top five costliest hurricanes on record (Irma and Harvey) made landfall in the same year.

Despite some of the tragic happenings of the past decade, attendees and the industry at large have shown incredible resilience. Event planners and venues need to continue to work together to reward that resilience, developing effective safety plans and protocols.

However, both parties may ultimately find themselves preparing for a wider variety of concerns than in years past.


Key Takeaway for Planners

Security should be top of mind at each stage of the planning process.

Whether it’s sourcing, seating, setup, or execution, the safety and security of attendees should ultimately dictate the planning and outcome. Event planners need to start by gauging security concerns when weighing destination options. That could mean avoiding coastal destinations during hurricane season or avoiding certain areas of city to ensure safety outside of event hours.

When mapping out the event, planners should know exactly where fire exits are and build strategies for various scenarios. Event diagramming software can help in this regard by allowing venues and planners to collaborate on a single source of truth. With a diagram in hand, it can easily be shared with everyone involved in the event for seamless setup and execution. (The fire marshall will thank you.)

Key Takeaway for Venues

Security is a significant value add and a key selling point in initial communications.

Event planners should always get the feeling that you’re taking security seriously from the get-go. That should start at a brand level trickle down to each individual property. Each venue should have a clearly-defined approach to security and preparation, including:

  1. Be clear on what is and isn’t permitted at the venue in terms of  capacity, resources, and staffing.
  2. Include in proposals whether you’re providing any personnel, such as security, custodians, and administrators.
  3. Have evacuation plan discussions. And, include the evacuation plans in proposals up front. Be sure to communicate the plan to all vendors.
  4. Create a step-by-step safety checklist for execution during on-site setup, and another safety checklist for the day of the event.

19. Minimalist event decor will have maximum appeal.

Whether it’s modern decor or the millennial lifestyle, less is more when it comes to the material. Minimalism is becoming a cultural tenant for younger generations who value experiences over possessions. (#vanlife anyone?)

This external societal push is also leaving its mark on event trends, setting the tone for decor — especially at weddings. Wedding Wire reports that couples are choosing “a bold, minimalistic look for a variety of aspects of their wedding day, from venues to invitations, wedding cakes, and more.”

Moving into 2019, event planners will increasingly look to venues with sprawling open space and industrial features (exposed HVAC, white-washed brick) as blank slates for minimalist design. It’s a movement that stands in direct opposition to the gaudy ballrooms of old.

minimalist decor and architecture at a wedding

Key Takeaway for Planners

Minimalist designs offer a chance to cut costs while boosting sophistication and keeping the focus on content.

A minimalist approach means less: less furniture, less seats, smaller portions, less irrelevant decor… you get the picture. All of this leads to more of the budget being freed up to improve content delivery and the overall attendee experience.

It also means that your venue search may start at nontraditional venues, many of which are better tailored to the industrial-chic, open floor plans that make minimalism a possibility. With the right venue in hand, it’s time to incorporate a few key guidelines:

Less drama – Look to classic combinations of whites and greys over the dramatic colors that once dominated palettes.

Less seating – Attendees want networking opportunities and less seats means more mingling.

Less clutter – Let the architecture speak for itself and keep the space clutter-free to promote a clean, open feel that keeps the focus on content.

Key Takeaway for Venues

Create event spaces that give planners the blank slate they need for minimalist design.

As mentioned, the gaudy, gold-lace ballrooms of old are on their way out. This bodes well for nontraditional venues, many of which have created spaces that emphasize architecture over additions.

Hotels, however, may find themselves scrambling to reinvent their event spaces in ways that have the same appeal. For hotel managers who may not have updated their ballrooms in years, it could be time to rethink these spaces — along with lobbies and other communal spaces that set the aesthetic tone for the hotel at large.

Larger chains should look to boutique hotels, who create visual identities that are often more closely aligned with the appeal that nontraditional venues offer.

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