Powerful event marketing trends to exceed expectations in 2023

Humans crave human connections. Since the global pandemic there is pent-up demand for deeper, more meaningful contact with friends, family, community, and perhaps surprisingly, brands. We see when customers bond with a brand through event marketing experiences, it creates stronger loyalty and increases their propensity to buy.

A recent report by Knowland anticipates that meetings & events will recover to 106% of 2019 levels in 2023 and 116% in 2024. So how can companies take advantage of this renewed desire for connections and experiences? We recommend that you’re prepared for changing attendee
expectations and embrace new trends. Here’s what we see in 2023 and beyond:

Expect fewer attendees with higher expectations

Attendees are more discerning than ever, looking for value assurances. And for some, there is still large gathering anxiety. To counterbalance these things, consider smaller personalized experiences with laser-focused purposes and agendas. This allows you to customize the event specifically for your target audience, speak directly to them as individuals, and provide maximum value for all. User groups, roundtables, investor days, facility tours, and customer appreciations can target key audiences and drive specific results.

Build a brand culture

Now more than ever, customers want connections to the brands they buy. They gravitate towards companies that share their values, embrace their uniqueness, and speak to their hearts and minds. Events provide the perfect opportunity to immerse people in your company mission and allow them to tangibly experience your brand. Engage all their senses through visuals, sound, touch, feel, and yes, even smell to showcase what makes you distinctive. They’ll leave with a feeling of community and be ambassadors of your brand.

Deliver the unexpected

Get creative. Construct something exclusive. Appeal to the mystery and newness of the experience. Consider a behind-the-scenes look at something in your community or special access to a product or service. Test different experiences to find what resonates best with your
audience or allow them to opt-in to different sessions and activities. However you mix it up, just make sure your attendee goals are met (e.g., networking, knowledge building, etc.) with your shift from the way “we’ve always done it”.

Apply your learning from virtual events

We learned virtual and hybrid events have real value, and they’re here to stay. Marketers, just because you’re tired of them doesn’t mean you should throw them out! If the audience and content lend themselves to this type of experience, don’t force in-person… embrace it. Build virtual or hybrid engagement strategies into your in-person experiences, before, during, and after. This will create more substantial engagement, vary your content delivery options, and speak to different learning styles and preferences.

Embrace technology to facilitate, immerse and engage

Try something new! Depending on your audience, consider incorporating experiences like augmented reality or virtual reality into your agenda. These technologies have exciting applications from pre- or post-event content, product demonstrations, remote location immersion, or internal and external training. Create that “wow” moment for your brand by embracing technology.

Create sustainable experiences

When planning, consider the environmental impact of your choices, from venue and materials to exhibitors and suppliers. Consider adding in a service activity or fundraiser that helps the planet or community. Create a contest or tracker with the attendees to help contribute to being greener. Everyone and everything involved can have an environmental impact and your attendees will take notice.

Show you care through safety and security measures

Attendee tracking, safety, and security remains a top priority since the pandemic. Continue to have a robust safety plan and over-communicate protocols with your attendees. This instills confidence and trust that you’ve thought of everything, easing any concerns. This also prepares your operations team for smaller incidents that unfortunately happened from time to time.

Staff appropriately

Unfortunately, COVID-19 forced the downsizing of many marketing and events teams. And now as demand quickly grows, businesses are struggling to find talent due to the Great Resignation and increased competition for talent. If experiences are part of your marketing plan – and they should be – ensure you have the right knowledge and skill set before you begin. As powerful as experiences are in elevating your brand, they can be equally devastating if done wrong. Ensure you have proper planning time and don’t be afraid to bring in some outside help. If events are not your forte, you need extra hands, or desire different ideas; work with an agency that specializes in experiences.

Just remember your attendees have changed over the last few years. They are making discerning choices on what’s most beneficial for them. Be prepared by learning from the past and embracing the future. There is a great opportunity for businesses that create unique experiences to expand their brand, increase sales, and make customers for life.