Last year we wrote a blog post on Conference Trends 2013. Reading back over the post we think that we predicted the year ahead fairly accurately (even if we do say so ourselves!) and so here is our post looking forward to 2014….
Although some sectors seem almost immune to the economic downturn we have witnessed that it is really tough and complete “doom and gloom” in other areas. We know our public sector and NHS clients are finding the spending cuts very deep which is heartbreaking and frustrating for them. There is no doubt that the North of England has suffered significantly from the economic downturn and is taking much longer than the South to recover. Nevertheless as we enter 2014 the mood overall seems to be lifting and the business outlook seems to be more buoyant. Dare we hope that we are finally over the worst of it?
For Events Northern Ltd we have some really great projects confirmed and in the pipeline for the year ahead. We are also really fired up by our recent/forthcoming pitches, presentations, meetings and proposals for some other really exciting events we REALLY hope we get the opportunity to work on! Already we have had 3 clients clamouring over one event date too. We hope that all these indicators are positive signs that things are definitely “on the up.”
Nevertheless as you would expect budgets are still tight and as event managers it is up to us to work wonders, save our clients money and ensure we stick to the available budget, however small (see our post Is Your Event Management Company Saving You Money?). This should be normal practice in our opinion anyway but it is even more vital currently.
The first thing that many companies do in times of uncertainty is cut their marketing budget, which often also means curtailing their event plans. However the smart companies realise that this is counter-productive and that to survive they must be brave and invest or keep spending in these key areas.
We are still seeing very short lead times for certain projects as clients battle with numerous pressures. In terms of organising an event it is definitely true that the more time the better though to enable us to fully achieve the objectives. On the flip side it is also heartening and wise to see other clients approaching us at least 9 or 12 months in advance to discuss event ideas and start the event planning and marketing process in plenty of time.
Demonstrating Return On Investment (ROI) in every event project is more vital than ever before. Determine at the start of the project the aims and objectives of the event and specific tangible targets and ensure that these are delivered or ideally exceeded in full every time.
These are truly exciting times for business and for the events industry in terms of social media. Every Event Manager should have embraced social media wholeheartedly and have an excellent working knowledge for all platforms relevant to their event communities and target audiences. Some are however still burying their heads in the sand and missing the huge opportunity social media presents in terms of engagement, marketing, enhancing the live event experience and ensuring the longevity of each project.
Online registration sites are finally developing and becoming more beautiful, social and sophisticated. It is great to see providers such as Evolero emerging and this is a platform I am keen to try out on a relevant event project during 2014.
People are accessing data and websites on the move through their phones and tablets. It is really important to check that all web content, including event registration sites, are optimised across multiple devices.
Although the UK business blogging community is very strong the events industry seem to be slow on the take up, as discussed in my blog post The Event Industry and Blogging: Are Event Managers Missing a Trick? I am sure 2014 will see a strong rise in the number of UK Event Professionals blogging. Furthermore I think that Event Managers should develop closer relationships with key players in the blogging community and engage with them better on relevant event projects. This is certainly something I am keen to explore and find out more about.
Video marketing and vlogging are also areas which are growing in importance. These are definitely exciting areas we want to incorporate more whenever the opportunity arises.
The modern delegate rightly demands more and expects a truly slick and professional event experience every time! If you are running an event or conference internally with little previous event management experience we definitely recommend that you should talk to and enlist help from a professional event management company such as Events Northern Ltd otherwise you risk damaging your company brand and reputation (and also being overwhelmed and stressed by the enormity of the task of organising the event itself!).
The modern delegate expects to arrive at an event to be checked in by a slick registration check-in system such as the barcoded registration management system we have developed. We can’t believe that we occasionally still attend events without any badges (not helpful for networking and mingling) or with scruffy, handwritten badges or labels.
Event Apps are also becoming better utilized to enable attendees to have information at their fingertips at all times and also from an environmental and sustainable perspective (as it can reduce the amount of printing required). Through our sister company Advanced Event Solutions Ltd we have developed a fantastic event app which is fully brandable and customizable and includes all of the key information such as venue information, directions, event agenda, speaker biogs, sponsor and exhibitor information and event feedback. Also the app is able to offer live voting and results without the need of keypads and can integrate with our barcoded registration management system if you so wish.
We are itching to run our first truly hybrid event! A hybrid event combines a “live” in-person event with a “virtual” online component. We are seeing more and more hybrid events taking place year on year and it opens up a huge wealth of possibilities if done well. Some people are nervous that streaming live content will detract from the live event or stop people from paying to attend in person however there is plenty of evidence of the virtual audience really enhancing the overall event experience. Participating online in this way also sometimes gives the confidence to make the decision to attend an event in person after first participating as an online delegate, which otherwise would not have happened.
We hope you have enjoyed reading our thoughts on the year ahead in terms of the events industry. We would love to hear your own predictions and whether you agree with our suggestions?