The Future of the Event Industry: 10 Things to Expect in 2019

The new year will be here before we know it and as new technology, tools, and trends continue to saturate the market, you might be wondering what the future of the event industry holds. At a time when virtual meetings, online exchanges, and remote workforces are at an all-time high, in-person conferences and events are becoming more important than ever before. 

Here are 10 things to expect in 2019.

1. Matchmaking technology for networking sessions.

With the capabilities of today’s technologies, it’s no wonder we’re starting to get more strategic about the way we connect attendees. While cocktail mixers and coffee breaks are still a popular session format to help attendees mix and mingle, we’re starting to see a shift towards more structured networking that utilizes matchmaking software—and for good reason. Networking is often the number one reason people attend conferences and events.

With matchmaking technology, event planners can ensure their attendees are meeting with other like-minded people who share the same interests rather than hoping that it happens randomly. Utilizing matchmaking technology makes networking more targeted and ensures better connections for your attendees.

2. A focus on face-to-face meetings.

Although workforces are transitioning to more virtual meetings (thanks Google Hangouts), in-person meetings at conferences continue to be king. Even event apps that allow for attendee messaging aren’t able to replace the power of meeting face-to-face. Because if you want to communicate and really connect with people, talking is a lot better than typing.

Instead of using an event app or message board—which requires a lot of proactive effort on the attendee’s end—consider planning a dedicated session that brings people together face-to-face, like speed networking or round tables.

3. An increase in the use of AI technology.

AI technology is making its way into the event industry more and more. In 2019, we expect this trend to take off. Event planners will be able to collect more data, automate planning processes, and better communicate with attendees, speakers, and sponsors.

Chatbots will allow event teams to automate responses to customer questions and provide faster and more effective service. And advanced artificial intelligence technology will be able to create more personalized event experiences and increase attendee engagement.

4. More interactive sessions.

We can’t talk about the future of the event industry without mentioning a shift towards more interactive sessions. The days of lecture after lecture after lecture are over. Today’s event planning is all about creating meaningful—and memorable—experiences for your attendees not just organizing a series of educational presentations.

Attendees want to be engaged. They want to interact with their peers. They want to learn hands-on.

5. Going green.

In 2019, sustainability is something that will be taken seriously. If you don’t have plans in process to go green yet, you need to. Events create a lot of waste. Even small steps can make a big difference.

Go paperless when you can, ditch plastic, be mindful of food waste and donate what you have left to local food banks, and work with your event production team/company on ways to use less energy. Turn off lights, switch of equipment, and don’t leave projectors and computers running when they’re not being used. It sounds simple but it happens so much. These things can go along way.

6. Data security.

Ah, yes. Data security. 2019 will mean increased data and privacy protection. After the data breaches of companies like Equifax and Sony, it’s clear we’re starting to see more sophisticated hacking systems. And with online registrations and the increased use of event apps, it’s almost certain hackers will target large events. As an event planner, you’ll want to ensure your registration system is PCI compliant. And it’s not a bad idea to take extra steps to ensure you’re guarding attendee information.

The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) will also affect privacy regulations for any events that have attendees from Europe, regardless of where the actual event is held.

7. A personalized event approach.

Event personalization will be big in the coming year, thanks largely in part to the capabilities of artificial intelligence. Through AI, event coordinators can connect with their audience in more meaningful ways and use data to provide personalized recommendations based on their interests.

8. Virtual and augmented reality.

Now that the iPhone X is officially on the market, we’re expecting to see increased use of virtual and augmented reality in the event industry.

From increasing attendee engagement to virtual tours for event planners, there are a lot of ways these types of technologies can be used to improve attendee and event planner experience.

9. Gamification is the name of the game.

Speaking of improved attendee experience, gamification is a great way to engage your audience and help them have a little bit of fun. While we’re all about professional development, sometimes you need a break.

Consider using gamification to help your attendees interact with sponsors, complete a challenge, or go on a scavenger hunt to see the city. Who doesn’t love a little competition?

10. More experiential marketing.

Photo booths, interactive exhibits, photo-sharing campaigns, and other experiential marketing tactics are starting to become more prevalent and we don’t see that changing any time soon. Not only is experiential marketing fun, but it’s also effective and can help increase ROI.

So, there you have it. Ten trends for the future of the event industry. We hope this information has helped you plan ahead accordingly. For more event news, sign up for our newsletter and stay connected on social media! And if you end up implementing any of these, let us know in the comments below!

If you’re interested in learning more about the matching technology mentioned in this post, you can request a demo here. Easier. Smarter. Targeted. Trackable. We are the leader in structured networking for conferences & events.