Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

January 03 2017

3 Trends That Will Transform Experiences In 2017

David McMillin


As event professionals aim to reach to attendees and secure sponsors, the new year will bring a range of new opportunities. In order to capitalize on those opportunities, meeting planners need to understand the evolving landscape of event technology. “New technologies are transforming the way organizers can connect with their attendees,” Dawn Archambault-Perry , Vice President, Brand Experience, Freeman, said. “From immersive on-site virtual reality areas to customized post-show content, some associations and corporations have already started to explore some exciting possibilities.”

In 2017, more organizations will jump on the bandwagon, investing in forward-thinking engagement strategies. At Convening Leaders 2017, some of the experience experts at Freeman will offer preview of the key changes that will shape the new year. If you’re coming to Austin, be sure to stop by the Experience Insights Lab powered by Freeman to learn more  about how to leverage these trends at your next event.

1) Location Will Fuel Personalization.

The digital world has paved the way toward a new expectation among attendees: they want an event that delivers on their individual preferences. “Our attendees experience personalization in their daily lives,” Heather Henderson Thomas at Cisco, said in a recent interview with Freeman. “Everyone understands Amazon. We all want that experience everywhere we go. It’s extremely important to be able to deliver that during an event.”

Henderson Thomas is correct, but many event professionals have struggled to figure out how to make a conference built for thousands of attendees feel like an experience designed for an individual. In 2017, location-based technologies will help solve that struggle for many organizations in the face-to-face industry. Mobile apps are no longer simply fulfilling the need to replace physical programs; instead, they are combining with beacon technology to make immediate recommendations on which products to see on the trade show floor, which attendees might be great networking partners and which upcoming educational sessions will be most valuable to each attendee based on their roles and responsibilities.

2) Individual Engagement Will Drive Sponsorships.

As organizers work to satisfy each attendee, those efforts will pay big dividends — literally. “Charting the attendee journey can dramatically improve their engagement level, and happy attendees translate to happy sponsors,” Archambault-Perry said.

Rather than offering more opportunities to simply display signage, organizations will look to integrate sponsors into the fabric of the event. For example, the Airbnb Open in Los Angeles in November offered some uniquesponsorship-in-action examples. Casper, an online mattress company, operated a Snooze Room where attendees could sign up for a quick nap to recharge during the experience. While the activation was low-tech, Casper collected email addresses to drive post-event follow-ups and continued retargeting efforts.

Sponsors and exhibitors who create and deliver interactive experiences on the expo floor and throughout the event can enhance the attendee experience and advance exhibitor’s objectives.

3) Organizations Will Capitalize On Content After Attendees Go Home.

When the experience is over, the earnings potential is only beginning. Conferences and trade shows offer hundreds of hours of education, and learning from subject matter experts does not have to be confined to the on-site environment. “As more organizations test the digital landscape, they’re recognizing that virtual live streaming and on-demand webinars represent real revenue opportunities,” Jennifer Kingen Kush, Executive Director, PCMA’s Digital Experience Institute, said. “In 2017, we’ll see more meeting professionals extend the lifespan of their content beyond a specific event.”

Virtual events can also provide valuable data to inform future decisions on hot topics from your industry’s thought leaders. Event marketers can target promotions based on user interests and offering more personalized content.

The Experience Insight Lab powered by Freeman is located on Level Four of the Austin Convention Center and is open:

Monday, January 9 from
7:00 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.;

Tuesday, January 10 from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and
3:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.; and

Wednesday, January 11 from
7:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

Looking for more insights into what’s in store this year? Check out these technology predictions from Freeman.

This article is brought to you by Freeman


  1. 2 Brynn Alexander 04 Jan
    Great insights for the coming year!  I think we're definitely seeing a lot more emphasis on post-event analytics and maximizing earnings there.  Thanks for sharing!
  2. 1 Brynn Alexander 04 Jan
    Great insights for the coming year!  I think we're definitely seeing a lot more emphasis on post-event analytics and maximizing earnings there.  Thanks for sharing!

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