Spotlight on Meetings and Conventions

Top 2019 event trends every event planner should know

The year 2019 is already upon us—and both PCOs and DMCs are looking for the newest trends in events and how they will impact organizing upcoming conferences and conventions.

With constantly shifting expectations from clients, attendees and sponsors, it’s important for event planners to look to the future and build from the past in order to continue delivering real value for all stakeholders. That’s why we sat down with three event professionals to get their perspectives as to some of the top 2019 event trends savvy PCOs and DMCs should tap into.

Create micro-events to bring more relevance and personalization


As a CMP and the General Manager at JPdL, a full-service event and destination management company in Québec City, Isabelle Desloges has seen the event industry greatly transformed in the last few years.

“One important aspect of events that planners increasingly need to consider is that conferences and conventions must now, more than ever, be designed around attendees’ busy careers and lifestyles,” she said. “Events are getting shorter because delegates tend to be pressed to get back to work and their personal lives. People need to make most of their time during incentive or educational and networking events.”

Ms. Desloges explained that in order for event planners to attract attendees, a lot of emphasis must be placed on creating highly targeted event programs with very compelling content. In addition, gone are the days whereby delegates simply passively attended an event that was chock-full of plenary sessions.

“Today’s time-strapped delegates are preferring interactive experiences, new presentation formats, exchanges with speakers in real time, hands-on workshops…the gamut. The activation is much more immersive and personalized,” she added.

This means event planners should consider developing ‘micro-events’ for different attendee personas. For example, delegates could be required to fill specific profiling information to guide them to smaller sessions or networking events targeting their precise interests or goals. They could also be invited to off-hours activities tailored to their expectations regarding visiting a host city.

Rethink your event layout


Through her work as a Project Manager at DX, a high-end furniture and décor rental company, Nuange Poulin has also noticed that event planners are placing more focus on attendees’ experience. “Events nowadays need to amaze in order to capture delegates’ attention and create long-lasting impressions,” she said. “Attendees, sponsors and speakers alike want to be active participants in an event, which inevitably changes the way events are created.”

A case in point: the venue’s layout. Traditionally, event layouts were often relegated to traditional theatre, classroom, banquet or cocktail arrangements. However, forward-thinking event planners are now creating zones dedicated for the event program’s needs. “For example, sponsors want more than just their logos brandished on monitors or in handouts. We often create lounge-like areas, branded by a sponsor, to foster discussions and more intimate presentations that are carried out during the entire convention,” Ms. Poulin said. Other creative new ideas? Adding different sizes and heights of tables and chairs to create mini-ambiances within an event.

Ms. Poulin pointed out that another major 2019 trend for events is the decors themselves. Past events tended to feature either highly muted or extravagant concepts. “Clients used to be very polarized in their visions for their events décor. Now, we’re seeing eclectic designs that mix and match different materials, colours and finishes,” she explained. “There is a juxtaposition between organic and classic elements, minimalism with bold accents, mid-century styling with a contemporary edge.”


Focus on attendee comfort


Janie Gagnon, Event Sales Executive at  high-end furniture rental and exhibit design company Groupe ABP, has observed that there is a direct correlation between a convention’s success—attendee appreciation, concentration and learning—and the event’s level of attendee convenience and comfort. “The more an event can cater to the true needs of busy delegates, the more likely they will return for the next edition,” she explained.

This translates to furniture and decors being at the service of attendees, not just an organizer’s creative vision. “While the rustic design trend has given way to more polished, Scandinavia-like atmospheres, event decors and furniture are all about chic, contemporary comfort,” Ms. Gagnon said. “Many clients are asking for sofas, rather than standard chairs, or suede, instead of synthetic materials, for example.” It all comes down to what will make delegates stay longer at an event, rather than hightail it to their hotel room to hunker down and work.

Tradeshows are also on-par with these trends. Groupe ABP’s clients are turning to more open concepts in exhibit design. “The ho-hum booth of yesteryear was not very conducive for discussions or negotiations. Modern exhibit spaces are micro-environments that have their very own atmospheres and where small events, like demos or pint-sized presentations can more easily be given,” Ms. Gagnon added.


Furthermore, busy tradeshow attendees like it when they can walk up to a booth and be given a VIP treatment, which is a compelling starting point for event planners in 2019 to reconsider their booth design and layout. Ms. Gagnon went so far as saying that un-booth-like exhibit concepts are gaining in popularity: “Exhibit spaces are changing to become hangouts or pop-up stores, so to speak,” she said. “These laid-back atmospheres boost attendee attraction and retention.

2019 will be all about experiential events and the relevance they bring to the table. Events have to be transformative both from a professional and personal standpoint in order for them to be successful for years to come.

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