5 Trends to Watch for the Future of Business Events

Author: Convene Editors       

future of business events

Amy Blackman (left) and Kate Fairweather reveal results of their research Jan. 7 at Convening Leaders. (Jacob Slaton)

Major consumer and market forces at work today will change the face of the business events industry as we know it. Marriott International and PCMA worked with innovation expert Kate Fairweather of New York–based Fahrenheit 212 and strategy consultant Amy Blackman of L.A.-based Fruition, who researched the latest global macrotrends and applied them to the business events industry. The results were revealed Jan. 7 during a joint press conference, “PCMA and Marriott on the Future of Events.”

The consultants turned to entrepreneurs, visual artists, and others to research trends. “The point of the study was to bring in those from outside the industry to ask questions we never would have thought about,” said Tammy Routh, senior vice president for global sales at Marriott International.

The study found these five big-picture influencers:

  • Emotional intelligence: As companies get smarter with predictive analytics, consumer expectations for personalized, seamless experiences will continue to rise. Business events will need to move past reactive adjustments to adopt a proactive approach to personalize experiences, understanding the needs of participants before they arrive at the event.
  • Orchestrated serendipity: Participant attention is at an all-time premium, as technology amplifies distraction and enables remote attendance. Experiences must embrace freedom and surprise, freeing consumers from the constant constraint of schedules or agendas. By embracing the unexpected, events can engage participants and leave a lasting impression.
  • Multimodal design: Every event has a unique objective and audience, and a space must reflect that event’s specific personality and needs. From technological infrastructure to architecture, to furniture and fixtures, space is critical to any event, and should be designed to adapt to the ways that participants will engage.
  • Bigger than oneself: Providing content is not enough anymore. Every event must have a message. Participants want to understand what’s important to a business and experience events that deliver that message down to the smallest detail — allowing them to meaningfully connect with the experience and bringing purpose to their engagement.
  • Clear sense of place: The most memorable events celebrate local surroundings, exposing attendees to the local culture, and connecting them with the community to increase engagement.

These trends are here to stay, Fairweather said. “We believe that they’re going to be disruptive in every category, but they have certain implications for meetings and events that are going to be important” in the way events are designed.