2022 Forecast: What’s Next for Event Planning and Design?
Event professionals are known to be adept in the art of the pivot, and yet the pandemic has created a whole new set of struggles for industry professionals. Luckily, the whirlwind of change and adapting to challenges at any given moment has led to new innovations and cutting-edge experiences. So, what does that mean for the events industry in 2022?
As we head into a new year, the possibilities are many, but the safety of attendees and staff will continue to be top-of-mind. While planners are mapping out their strategies for 2022, consider these five predictions for trends that will continue to dominate the industry:
Technology will continue to play a large role in how events are planned.
It’s been said before, but it’s true: Hybrid/ Parallel experiences are here to stay. Incorporating virtual into events in truly engaging ways has become the norm but creating immersive experiences using various technology tools will continue to be a game-changer in events. Engaging both the in-person and the remote attendee using 3D technology, virtual reality, and augmented reality along with on-demand content access is critical. These tools have increasingly been incorporated during events to give attendees the ability to engage in hyper-realistic environments, whether it’s a game, a place or to create an experience that appeals to visual and spatial processing. Aligning these technologies to support both ends of the attendee experience (live & remote) remains the greatest challenge and the most exciting opportunity as we navigate providing content across this broad spectrum.
For instance, experiential marketing and event design firm VDA offers fully customized solutions that integrate the attendee experience in its host of solutions. VDA Virtual, which allows event professionals to create a customized 3D world—including venues, recreations of existing spaces, ballrooms, convention centers, and trade show floors—where attendees can engage in various digital activities, network, attend keynote and breakout session presentations and explore product offerings in a fully realized expo.
While large-scale events will return, smaller, more intimate gatherings will still be desired by attendees.
While large-scale events will begin to make a comeback into 2022, we’ll likely see that smaller highly curated in-person events are favored. Not only is it safer to follow health protocols with smaller gatherings, but they’re also ideal for creating stronger connections and engaging audiences on a more personal level. Creating these personal experiences for targeted attendees with a narrow scope of brand specific engagement develop a bond between the brand and the customer that larger broadly focused events do not attain. Increased spend per attendee with a lower overall cost per event that achieves a higher ROI with insightful content will dominate the event space in the coming year.
Continued upgrades in safety and health protocols will be integrated into events.
Whether it means temperature-taking, masking, more outdoor events, or socially distanced environment design, health will continue to be a focal point at events in the coming year. While most event professionals ensure that on-site events follow state and federal health protocols, emerging technologies and new innovations will continue to help events become healthier spaces. And while security has long been a part of any good event strategy, an amplified emphasis on keeping attendees and staff safe will make these top-of-mind issues that should be a significant factor in any event budget in 2022.
Events will serve to address societal issues and start meaningful conversations.
More and more events are being used as platforms to promote social awareness related to systemic racism, gender disparities, LGTBQIA+ rights, and more. Along with promoting fundraising for a variety of causes, this is a trend that will continue as brands seek to make deeper connections with audiences while addressing real issues in today’s world. Aligning brands to causes has always been important, but with elevated social media platforms, connecting to these causes is more critical than ever in the design and execution of experiential event activations.
Sustainable practices at events will continue to grow.
It’s no secret that the events industry is notoriously wasteful, and any steps you take to minimize that negative effect on the planet will be appreciated by your customers and by future generations alike. With the onset of the pandemic, there were concerns that efforts to make events greener would falter. But sustainability continues to be a high priority focus as climate change concerns have amplified across the world. VDA has been aware of this issue for a while now and in 2014 launched its Repurposing Initiative. The program works to reduce waste while supporting the local community, the arts, schools and individuals by extending resources and materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. Showing that your brand is socially and environmentally conscientious can also make for greater, more meaningful connections with your audience.