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5 Key Trends for Meetings & Events 2021

May 25, 2021

As the world begins to open back up again, we've tapped into our meetings expert, Paige Callan for the latest trends in the meetings and events space. Check them out below!

1. Hybrid Meetings & Events

2020 was the year that the meetings & events industry fully embraced the virtual world – and had no choice but to do so quickly. As the year ended the industry saw another shift to hybrid meetings & events, a model that is sure here to stay. With varying travel restrictions and comfort levels we are seeing planners flex their creative muscle in developing programs for one event with attendees in two places: in person and virtual. The key to hosting a successful hybrid event is to create the same impactful experience for every attendee no matter their location. It’s easier said than done. Incorporating interactive programming to maintain attendee engagement, gamification to keep things fun, live sessions and creative ways for virtual attendees to connect directly with exhibitors are a few ways that this can be achieved. If you’re looking for more practices, see here.

2. Technology is at the Forefront of Safety

Amidst Covid-19 we’re seeing technology used in new ways. From wearable Bluetooth devices to on-site kiosks, technology is helping attendees meet safe and feel comfortable being in-person. Kiosks are being used for check-in with facial recognition and they’re also outfitted to register hand gestures instead of touch methods to avoid the spread of germs. Some are even be equipped with temperature detectors to notify the on-site team when an attendee’s temperature is too high. Wearable Bluetooth devices were already used for networking, exhibitor marketing and navigating trade shows, and now they’re being used to notifying participants when a prospect or potential collaborator is nearby, or perhaps too close to them. Technology is a powerful tool and it is important to use it to the highest ability.

3. Immunity-Boosting F&B

Covid-19 has also changed the food and beverage experience, implementing plexiglass dividers and having servers wear a variety of PPE. The actual menu items are getting an update too! Attendees can expect to find healthy and nutritious menu options from plant-based selections and immune-boosting foods to local and artisanal fare. Health and wellness is at the forefront of all 2021 experiences, starting with your plate.

4. One event tech platform for your total events program

Having the right tech partner can make or break your event. Planners should do their research and find a company that will build out a custom digital platform to help them achieve the goal of their meeting. The partner will be able to focus on the operations while the planners can focus on the content, which together will result in a seamless and successful event!

5. Engaging Content is King

Whether attendees are in-person or virtual it’s imperative that the content remains engaging. Virtual events should be looked at as a true experience, and should use augmented reality, artificial intelligence, gamification and interactive sessions to keep attendees engaged. I’ve seen everything from yoga classes and wine tastings to craft cocktail lessons and live concerts have success in increasing attendee engagement. These sessions often close the meetings are usually teased at the start as to pique the interest of participants, thus resulting in better attendance. Never underestimate the element of surprise!

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