Throughout the pandemic, many of our lifestyles, priorities, and ways of working have dramatically changed. In its report “The Future 100: 2022,” creative agency, consultancy, and technology company Wunderman Thompson has identified 100 trends across industries — from culture to health to travel and hospitality — that will shape the way we live and work this year and beyond. The Convene editors have each chosen three trends from Wunderman Thompson’s report and connected them to meetings and events. Up first, Associate Editor Casey Gale takes on optimism, travelportation, and emotional health.
Wunderman Thompson reports that many brands are focusing on positivity, playfulness, and creativity — from Pantone creating a completely new color, Very Peri, that “displays a spritely, joyous attitude and dynamic presence that encourages courageous creativity and imaginative expression” to Adobe Stock 2022 Creative Trends including “powerfully playful” themes for the year.
“There is a primal need for play,” Brenda Mills, Adobe’s principal of consumer and creative insights told Wunderman Thompson Intelligence. “A year ago, you kept hearing the world ‘resilience,’ but how do you remain resilient when the pandemic is so long term and everything is so uncertain?”
Event planners have certainly shown resilience since the pandemic began by learning best practices for in-person risk mitigation as well as virtual and hybrid event strategies. Now, two years into the pandemic with that knowledge and experience under their belts, event professionals say they are feeling more hopeful about the future of events, as our latest COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard Survey found. After all, in-person and virtual events are just like Pantone’s Very Peri — an expression of creativity.
When the pandemic first began, I took immense comfort in virtual offerings that transported me someplace beyond my sofa — anything from free concerts performed by my favorite artists in their at-home studios to a livestream of Walt Disney World’s classic fireworks spectacular while the theme park was closed. Those experiences were created to break up the boredom and dispel the desperation many were feeling in the first wave of the pandemic. But just because we can now move more safely around the world, doesn’t mean there aren’t upsides to embracing these digital windows into new worlds.
In fact, Wunderman Thompson sees “travelportation” — immersive virtual experiences — as the way of the future. They cite the example of Japanese airline group ANA Holdings and JP Games’ Sky Whale digital platform, which launched in May 2021. The platform hosts multiple digital worlds that consumers can travel between and even shop in. The platform has partnered with companies in Australia, Austria, Canada, and more.
“This immersive technology gives travel the potential to be less cost-prohibitive, more accessible, and more imaginative,” the report notes. Sounds to me like the perfect way for destinations to embrace our new, digital-heavy reality and highlight their offerings to potential event organizers and attendees alike.
According to Wunderman Thompson, public spaces for mental health and emotional wellbeing — “playgrounds of the future” — are becoming commonplace as the stigma around addressing mental health begins to fade. For example, the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City recently opened the Mandala Lab, a cultural healing space designed to encourage emotional wellness and inspire connection through Buddhist ideas. “Visitors can explore the complexity of their emotions, address them, and transform them,” the report says.
Meetings and events have been way ahead of this trend — for years, Convene has reported on event spaces that make room for wellbeing, recharging, and quiet time. With the pandemic continuing to put pressure on people across all walks of life, here’s hoping events will continue to provide a respite from the outside world.
Casey Gale is associate editor at Convene.