By Raquel Santo
Destination Management + Event Planning professionals are looking forward to a wave of opportunities to come in 2023, and for a good reason, considering the spike in predicted scheduled live events. In addition, STR, CoStar's hospitality analytics firm, projects that hotel room demand will reach all-time highs in 2023, indicating that travel is at the forefront of the public mind.
As a destination and event management company that opened its doors during the pandemic, we can see that the demand for DMCs is rising. Since opening, our team had accomplished goals we never imagined possible, even before the industry changed from the events that 2020 brought. Nevertheless, post-pandemic event planning has a new approach that demands creativity and requires Purposeful Planning TM .
Our creative process is rooted in a methodology proven to produce meaningful results for our clients, suppliers, and communities. Our team pushes the needle daily through our shared values and guiding principles, creating impact and generating revenue long after our events have ended. This passion and commitment transform events and relationships, and we hope to inspire others in the industry to get better, do better, and be better than ever before.
Through in-depth studies of past trends, a look into projected social interests, and insight from leading industry professionals, we will uncover key elements and growth opportunities that will revolutionize your events in the upcoming year.
#1 - Sustainability
A way of life for many, social responsibility will continue to trend into the event management space in 2023 and be at the top of planners' lists when it comes to meeting priorities. But fear not if these strategies are a completely new topic to your brand. This year will pave the way for innovative ideas in the sustainability sphere. Here is an in-depth look at how you can incorporate sustainable practices into your planning that will leverage technology to measure your carbon footprint, help you choose partnerships that will create impact, and design for intentional results.
- Consider your Partners Wisely:
The first and most straightforward way to begin more sustainable event planning is through partnering with LEED Certified hotel properties. Then you can confidently tell your clients that they are already contributing to a greener future just by working with you. When we work with these hotels, we are proud to share our sustainability practices with our clients and build meaningful connections with partners by highlighting their work on conservation, preservation, and giving back.
- Make Buying + Sourcing locally one of your Primary Business Philosophies:
Naturally, most events include food service, so there are ample opportunities to curate an experience highlighting local resources and purveyors. Fresh, local products taste better, help the environment, and are oftentimes less financial investment, in addition to supporting a local, sustainable agricultural economy and workforce. Serve these up with biodegradable plates and cutlery to make a massive difference in the environmental impact of your event. Implementing this into the budget is a best practice when presenting to your clients because, more times than not, the client would have opted in for them either way.
- Design with less:
Reusable décor products, LED lighting, and linen-less tables are just a few ways you can impact the environment and your budget. Have you considered non-floral options for table décor or keeping event furniture over multiple days to cut down on trucking? What is the walkability of your event city? Avoid balloons- a major YIKES for the environment and local wildlife.
- Measure your carbon footprint:
Nowadays, there is an app for everything. Trace by Isla is a platform that helps you measure and minimize your carbon footprint at live, hybrid, and digital events. This service allows you to track and understand your event's carbon and waste impact, offer guidance and suggestions for saving money, and improve the positive environmental impact of your next event. Since environmentally conscious decisions are becoming the standard in the corporate space, we can only promise sustainable events when we can measure and share the results.
#2 - Live events are back.
We have been saying it since the doors of America reopened in 2020, but this time, we mean it. This year is guaranteed to emphasize the desire for in-person events and live meetings. Now more than ever, people yearn for connection, entertainment, and an excellent reason to travel somewhere unique. While hybrid events will still be a thing as companies and the workforce evolve, in-person engagement produces higher rates of return, less turnover, stronger brand loyalty, and more profitable learning.
"The in-person events market is set for its "strongest year ever" in 2023"
– Meeting & Group Business magazine
#3 - Technology has arrived
Technology is unique in that it is consistently the aspect of event planning that can give guests the "wow factor." Since tech is a constant, it will always be there; new advancements and product developments will always pop up. Truthfully, our technology today isn't far from the sci-fi movies made decades ago. Although we have yet to get flying cars to transport our clients, we can produce augmented reality environments to host a once-in-a-lifetime event. Finally, we can create virtual environments with apps that make people's lives easier and bring visions to life instantaneously.
Imagine being in the comfort of your home on your computer, guiding your avatar to meet up and enjoy a cocktail class virtually and in real life. To execute this, we can ship drinks and supplies directly to your house, immersing you in this virtual and real-life experience. Alternatively, you can elevate your potential clients' site inspections with VR headsets. They can stand in the ballroom where the event will take place and see their event as if everything is available to them through 3D rendering. The possibilities are endless when you take advantage of all that technology offers. In 2023, this train leaves the station, so you will want to arrive on time.
#4 - VIP Experiences
At ETHOS, our process starts with "why." Then, we deep dive into your event goals, corporate culture, and design experiences that leave a lasting impact long after your event has ended. The formula is simple when it comes to immersive, meaningful, impactful experiences that consistently get high scores on post-event surveys and leave participants buzzing for years to come. Our brand's mission is to develop relationships with suppliers and push their limits to help them build their portfolios in a way that feels as authentic to the destination as it is exclusive to your group. We consider the following to get the process started.
-Cater to all five senses:
One of the most effective grounding exercises to guide someone into the present moment is encouraging them to pay attention to their current physical experience. What can your guests see, hear, smell, taste, and touch when they enter the event? Keeping this at the forefront of your mind throughout the planning process will ensure your guests feel as engrossed in the event as possible and ensure they carry the experience with them once the event is over.
-Be personal to the attendees:
Listen, research, and ask the hard questions. As an internal creative exercise, ask our team to brainstorm the most remarkable event they could think of for a VIP client if money was no object. Then, highlight any constant themes to identify the experiences we should bring to life. If we implement just one of the things from that list into your next event, you are one small gesture closer to creating an experience that feels bespoke to each participant.
#5 - Streamlining the Process:
The meetings industry is constantly collaborating on new ways to simplify processes, make our lives easier, and ensure that our events run smoothly. To gain a personal perspective on this topic, we asked Varina Andrews, DMCP, an Operations + Logistics expert at ETHOS, to provide some insight. "Our entire process is rooted in saving time," Andrews says. She reminded us constantly to appreciate the power of a well-thought-out diagram. "When everyone is on the same page and knows where things go, they're able to do their job somewhat autonomously, which leaves the Operations Manager free to make big picture adjustments and then to look at the details," Andrews adds. Here are a few best practices she implements during ETHOS events:
-In-house registration capability:
Consider designing a website and registration portal that takes the workload off the client's plate. In other words, we remain in direct contact with the participants as they guide their registration process, so our client can focus on content and planning. Attendees can register and adjust to airport transfers, activities, tours, dine-around registrations, meeting rooming lists, etc. In addition, we utilize personalized QR codes for activity waivers or any check-in processes to gather information from attendees, which puts their data and time in their control.
-A narrow focus on checking in and out:
When vendors arrive onsite, take 5 minutes to review everything in detail. Specifically, confirm what items are on the truck and ensure everyone understands the diagram and knows when the event starts and ends. As a result, this will ensure everything is clear before setting up compared to afterward.
#6 - Engagement:
Attendees need more from event planners than just putting on a great event. Researchers are studying the human brain to determine whether our attention span has decreased. The truth is that we can focus on something for a long time but need more of a desire to do so. With that said, event planners must remain mindful of how we can keep our event interesting enough for guests to stay engaged. While that may seem like an impossible task, we have a few pointers to reduce the stress of the responsibility of executing this properly.
Statistically, eventgoers are more satisfied with events when they feel there is a valuable learning component or key takeaway. Meryl Hill, DMCP, CED, an industry professional for over twenty years, said, "People are connecting to content more than ever. Creating relationships between brands and people, materials and purpose, and relationships with value will drive attendance and profits for years. The most important part of your planning process is designing for key stakeholders to be impressed and wanting more."
-Plan compelling sessions and speakers:
When choosing whom to invite to speak at your event, consider spending a little extra if it means your guests will be building anticipation to see them. Entertainment holds the power to make or break the attendees' experience, as it is the aspect of the event that they are either excited to share with others or cavil to others. Book early! Great speakers and talent are booking earlier, another trend we see for 2023.
-Know your attendees:
This year, you should set up incentivized questionnaires for attendees to complete upon arrival and before departure. These questionnaires are a seamless way to gather information about who is attending this event and leave room for creativity to reward them for finishing it. That way, in the future, you will be prepared to cater for the event to fit what suits them best and keep their attention for longer.
-Focus on room design:
As industry professionals, we understand that the tiniest details matter when curating an intentionally designed space. When small talk begins to dwindle, the most effortless conversation starter is what you can see right around you. Everyone in that room is a potential client; how you design the space will leave a lasting impression on them.
2023 is a year full of opportunity and growth for the event management industry to reach new heights.
Everyone will be engaged throughout the event if you constantly follow and implement these practices to capture your audience's attention. You can move confidently into this year with stability, promise, and connection with a few purposefully planned best practices that will produce measurable results and impact the communities you meet.
Visit our website to learn more about our sustainable practices, creative processes, events, and technology.