Though the world of event planning has certainly gone through many changes over the last two years, businesses are starting to think about planning their usual events once again. And though it might take another year or two until things feel “normal” again, event planners are looking forward towards 2022, and thinking about the current trends in the event management industry.
Despite some of the major challenges that the events industry has endured, the future looks optimistic as a whole. In fact, the annual growth rate for events is expected to increase by 11.2% between 2021-2028. This is a positive sign the world of event planning is slowly but surely returning to normal.
Despite this expected growth, we’ve learned that nothing is certain in today’s world. It makes sense to plan well in advance, especially when it comes to larger scale events. When thinking about what your future events will look like, you want to be sure you’re not only attracting and entertaining guests, but that you’re also meeting industry trends that demonstrate you’re an industry leader in the event planning realm.
To help you get a head start on planning events for the year to come, here is a list of the top six event industry trends for 2022.
1. Bringing back a more immersive experience
During the height of COVID-19 when most people were only attending events virtually, event planners relied heavily on the standard two-dimensional experience, using screens and video to provide experiences for guests. Now that it’s been awhile since many people have been attending events in person, event planners are shifting away from that standard presentation. They are looking for ways to fully engage their guests more than ever. To do this, they are relying on new types of technology to provide people with a more immersive experience.
One way to accomplish this is through use of enhanced content, also referred to as augmented reality. This type of technology employs the use of a digital device to overlay visual, audio, or other sensory information on top of the attendee’s typical experience. Not only does this provide attendees with a more interactive learning environment, it also allows for a more touch-free experience, which is also currently more desirable when people are gathering in large spaces.
Use of extended reality, or XR, is another way to immerse guests in their experience. XR makes people feel like they are in ultra-realistic settings despite the fact they’re in an event hall -- or maybe even thousands of miles away. This dual reality makes XR an attractive option when hosting hybrid events as well. It also allows for use of more unique concepts, offering attendees even more engaging virtual experiences.
2. A shift from money making to marketing
Previously, large conferences and events were seen as a way to generate revenue in exchange for the knowledge and networking opportunities that were offered. However, more organizations are changing their way of thinking and using large events as public relations opportunities rather than income generators. These events are now more seen as marketing tools instead of just educational opportunities.
How is this done? Instead of charging guests for their attendance to an event, some companies are choosing to offer attendance free of charge as a way to generate more interest, more attendees, and hopefully, an overall greater interest in the products they’re offering.
This tactic seems to be promising. A recent example is the Build conference that Microsoft holds each year. Previous to the pandemic, in 2019, they charged their attendees $2,395 per ticket, and had 6,000 registered attendees. In 2020, they offered the conference virtually and free of charge, and had more than 230,000 registered attendees. This only increased Microsoft’s visibility and most likely still ended up being a money maker for the company in the long run. It also attracted those who might not have not otherwise been able to attend, and encouraged them to learn more about products and services that Microsoft offers.
3. Smaller events with larger ROI
Some companies might not have the ability to offer large events free of charge -- they still need to see some type of return on their event investments. Enter the introduction of the “microevent” -- an event that’s held on a much smaller scale. Over the course of the past year, we’ve seen these smaller events increase in popularity, due not only to health concerns, but also to cost factors. These events are easier to plan and manage, and because they cost less to run yet still generate income, they are becoming a popular choice for some event planners.
Holding smaller events can also allow companies to hold multiple events during the year, rather than a single large one annually. Not only are these smaller events more affordable for smaller companies, they can help them increase their visibility and reach more people overall.
4. Focus on creativity and lighting
The return to in-person events has generated renewed enthusiasm in the world of creative event planning. One example is the use of lighting in combination with natural objects or large shapes.
Lighting always has an impressive effect during any event, and that will be no exception for events that will be planned for 2022. Lighting experts will continue to work with event planners to come up with new and innovative ways to use lighting during their presentations. Some of these techniques include using lighting to illuminate decor and using different materials to create chandeliers. Another new trend is to create “living” chandeliers, canopies, or other impressive decor, using floral and greenery.
Creative lighting also continues to be a trend in the event industry, including use of illuminated dance floors, both inside and outside. Planners are also using light combined with inflatable shapes like giant orbs, which also creates an impressive ambience for guests.
5. Continue to plan for hybrid events
Perhaps one benefit of COVID-19 is that event organizers were made to quickly adapt to changes, rethinking how to present content and engage attendees. This resulted in a flurry of virtual events, which while might have not been the same as the events people were used to, were still better than no events at all.
According to Forbes, there’s been a 1000% increase in the number of virtual events held since the start of COVID-19. One virtual event platform, 6Connex, has hosted 52,000 virtual events since the pandemic started.
As a result of this shift, event planners and audiovisual professionals learned how to up their networking and streaming capabilities to make these virtual events as seamless as possible. And there’s no reason why planners shouldn’t continue to utilize these capabilities for their 2022 events, by planning hybrid events that allow both in-person and virtual options.
While many people are excited to return to the in-person conferences and events of the past, there are still some who are not comfortable doing so. And even if you put health concerns aside, there’s no denying that the option to attend an event virtually offers additional opportunities for participation that might not otherwise be a possibility for many attendees. This is why event planners will continue to offer hybrid event options in 2022.
Though the term “hybrid” can mean different things to different event planners, it usually means that the content offered during the event will be available in a recording, presentation, or document, either live or after the event takes place. Attendees can view presentations and entertainment from the comfort of their home, at the venue, or even a blend of the two. The hybrid option is also great for attendees who want more information after the event, or weren’t able to see all of the presentations they wanted to.
6. Outdoor events will remain popular
The shift to holding events outdoors will continue to remain popular in 2022 as some people still feel a greater sense of security being outside while in large groups of people. And really, if the weather permits, why not?
More people are comfortable going without masks while outside, and people have grown used to enjoying the outdoors during COVID-19. Not only that, but the beauty and blank slate of an outdoor setting make it even easier for event planners and audiovisual professionals to get creative with their work.
While COVID-19 definitely strongly affected the way we look at the events we plan, one thing that many event planners can agree on is that the future of events is looking bright again. Even as we continue to adapt and adjust to the ever-changing event planning landscape, it’s clear that people are ready to get out and about, even if the events they attend are slightly different than they were before.
What we have learned from the events of the past two years is that adaptability and collaboration are two important factors of planning any event. The flexibility we’ve learned as we’ve adjusted to our new world can only serve us better as we plan events in the years to come.
Do you need help planning and executing your 2022 events? Contact us today.