Last year has seen a number of new and unique trends impact the marketplace. Mark Spivey, Director of International Sales, at Maritim Hotels looks ahead to see how some of these trends will evolve in 2018.
Event at the venue: The venue itself is playing an increasingly crucial role in the success of an event. As such, venues will take great care to blur the lines between accommodation and meeting, ensuring delegates will not be able to tell where the venue stops, and the event begins. This will spread to all aspects of the venue – restaurant, bar, lobby and communal areas will function as an ongoing, live extension of the event, where delegates can meet, network and enjoy learning and leisure opportunities together.
Personalisation through technology: Creating customised experiences is the ’Holy Grail’ for events professionals and platforms that offer personalisation through advanced audience segmentation will be given greater attention and investment next year. Whether it is chatbots, one-off apps, or existing apps updated specifically for the conference, event technology will be further refined to deliver individualised target messages and seamless integrated experiences.
‘Sustainability Plus’: Sustainability has undoubtedly been a priority for the event industry in the last decade. Millennial delegates in particular are now demanding more from their events, meetings and venues, beyond being simply marketed as ‘eco conscious’. Destinations who truly wish to minimise their carbon footprint will continue to invest long–term by going a step further to cement their green credentials. This could involve hiring a trained sustainability consultant to advise on waste separation and recycling or creating bespoke environmentally friendly, meeting packages.
The ongoing rise of Bleisure: A new travel category that emerged last year and will see significant growth in 2018 is ‘Bleisure’. At events or conferences, adding in pre-or-post-adventures or in-conference day trips for example, provides extra incentives for delegates. Incorporating a unique experience before the conference gets delegates fired up for the forthcoming event, they are also bonded to their peers in a deep and meaningful way, ensuring a high level of interactivity and contribution. Alternatively, planning an event which ends before the weekend offers a ‘win win’ for both employer and employees - the employer can minimise travel costs (staying for an extra night or two can sometimes cut airfare by almost half), while the employee can enjoy a post conference break, thereby maintaining a healthy work/life balance.
Safety & security as a priority: Subsequent incidents at home and abroad in 2017, sadly, saw a greater need for comprehensive security systems from events planners. This has resulted in a larger number of visible uniformed police and security officers in addition to undercover agents, called ‘peer security’, who are designed to blend in amongst crowds to act swiftly and inconspicuously to emerging threats. It must remain a top priority for venues and event organisers to ensure a ‘duty of care’ for meeting and events of all types.