Predicting a trend that will dominate the special events industry is often like a shout into the dark. Rather than predict what linen or entertainment will be the most popular, we like to look at the heart of what makes an experience great: connecting guests with the story and message of our clients. Here's a look at what's new, what's now, and what's next in our toolbox to help you craft your experience.
Getting your photo taken at an event is a concept that's almost as old as the Chiavari chair, but this once-passive activity has become a way for attendees to further immerse themselves in the message and story of an event. As social media and technology continue to inspire everyone to be their own personal photographer, how we take photos and describe our daily lives becomes a part of our identity. The modern attendee has developed their own personal brand and are well-versed in lighting and composition. They crave ways to take photos and engage with others in the process.
As this continues to evolve, the lines between décor, photo opportunities, activities, and takeaways will continue to blur. Rather than having isolated areas dedicated for photos (such as a step and repeat,) consider making elements in your event as photo-friendly as possible. Create focal points that organically inspire a selfie, add a character that creates a sharable moment, or even integrate accessories that allow guests to become a character in your story.
Technology integration has taken an incredible leap forward in recent years as mobile devices become a greater part of who we are as individuals. Yet with that comes concerns about privacy and the morality of data collection. As with anything new, it can often be unsettling at first, but technology will start to feel more human in 2019 and connect guests in a tactile way like never before. Augmented reality will become a crucial way to bridge the gap between physical and digital. From wearables that track your location to facial recognition that calculates guests' level of enjoyment, real-time analytics will allow meeting planners to better personalize an event for each attendee.
Look for projection and LED screens to continue to enhance branding and immersion, while technology evolves into being a truly crucial tool in creating the guest experience. Rather than question why a piece of data is being requested, the attendee of the future will want to connect and share data as they look forward to the returns in their experience.
There's been a noticeable shift away from brands relying solely on advertisements; instead, they have a diversified mix of ads, experiences, and a social presence to project a holistic identity. Likewise, this trend has extended into the events that our clients plan for their employees. Gone are the days when a branded pillow was enough to immerse a company's attendees in its message.
In 2019, brands will fully embrace their identities at events and turn their attendees into enthusiastic brand ambassadors. Try thinking of your company's brand as a person with their own style and hobbies—what kind of event would they throw? What colors, activities, and music would they use? Consider using the product or service your company is known for and integrating it into the event in an unexpected way; whether that's a food experience, an activity, or the color palette that forms the basis of the event's design.
As our physical world continues to merge with the digital space, attendees will crave intimate, physically tactile moments. It's no longer sufficient for an event to just look good, it needs to have moments that surprise and delight and satisfy attendees' desire to physically connect. In 2019, textiles will become a key tool in telling stories, whether it's a linen with an unexpected texture or string drape that transforms an open-area furniture grouping into an intimate lounge that makes guests feel more connected to the event and their peers. As a contrast to the digital evolution, the richness of textiles will encourage attendees to open up and embrace the moment.
This year is also about throwing out the rule book when it comes to color, fabric, and functionality. Look for more exciting ways to use textiles for self-expression in everything from fabric-covered walls that surround an event to the juxtaposition of two seemingly dissonant textures like leather and linen.
Historically, art and design have heavily influenced our culture to create very distinct styles for each decade. As technology evolves and a new social group comes into prominence, so changes the mainstream look. As we continue to become a closer, more connected world, this centuries-long trend of reinvention will be turned on its head as we mix elements from different decades together to create a style all our own.
By integrating eclectic moments from multiple heritages, it allows attendees to feel both familiar and challenged by juxtaposed design and items they may or may not be familiar with. Try mixing mid-century modern furniture with a futuristic piece of art, or designing a traditional ornate dining table in grunge-worthy monochromatic colors. This helps an event feel more like a living, breathing entity that guests feel attached to; whether that comes from mixing items from different time periods, different parts of the world, or even just mixing unconventional colors.
Interested in how we can put these into practice for your next program?
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