Alastair Scott, Managing Director of Scotland-based event production company, 20/20 Productions on how the industry has evolved.
Alastair Scott is Managing Director of 20/20 Productions, an Edinburgh, Dubai and San Francisco-based production company delivering events, digital, film and creative projects.
The company’s event production services include venue sourcing, event design, event theming, technical management, set and stage building, crew sourcing and management, on-site delivery, post-event evaluation, logistical planning and AV, sound and lighting equipment.
Every year, event industry professionals are told of new trends that are going to completely change the industry. During my 30 years working in events production, it’s reasonable to say that I’ve seen my fair share, and not every trend has had quite the impact predicted.
Still, over the years we have seen some significant changes which have revolutionised approaches to event production. Keeping up to date in the events industry is essential if you want to remain competitive. The real skill however is choosing which trends are worth investing time and resources into, and which are just passing fads.
So what trends have really impacted the event landscape in the last two decades?
Tech This Out
Technology has changed all aspects of our lives from shopping to travel and it has also had a profound effect on the events industry, radically changing the way we do things.
Even though large-scale presentations and demonstrations are still going strong, holding an audience’s attention has become a lot more challenging, and so focus has shifted to visual engagement, where tech is essential. At the 2017 CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition, for example, we used hi-res fragmented screens hung at different levels but displaying uninterrupted graphics, making for a visually spectacular setting.
When it comes to ticketing or checking in attendees at an event, technology has had a huge impact. Previously, attendees were checked in with pen and paper, or easily misplaced printed tickets. Today however, purpose-built registration apps or check-in software enables hosts to keep better track of attendees. Organisers can guarantee a much smoother welcome with the ability to electronically scan tickets, sync calendars, communicate updates and manage requirements with technology.
In addition, advancements in technology have meant that we now have access to a wealth of data from attendees which can be used to follow-up after an event, extending its lifetime in ways that weren’t previously possible, subject to GDPR of course.
What an Experience
‘Experiential’ is a trend that has caused quite a stir in the events industry in recent years. The norm was once a one-way information delivery. Today, delegates are no longer just a passive audience, but a partner and contributor. Event attendees now demand interaction and the opportunity for their voices to be heard. This is why social media now plays such a significant role. Event organisers have access to real-time feedback, as well as a virtual platform to involve their audience.
Social media doesn’t totally meet this demand however – the style of events themselves has had to be completely adapted to facilitate comment, discussion and debate in person. Think about incorporating live sessions, interactive break-out rooms or Q&As to encourage attendees to contribute.
Over the years, event attendees’ expectations have developed too. The events sector is a much more competitive space compared to what it once was, and now the emphasis is on delivering more, for less. If you’re not offering something that significantly benefits your audience, don’t expect to see them again next year.
Leaving without a fuller understanding of their topic of interest is now viewed as a massive waste of time for busy eventgoers. Attendees now look for tangible benefits rather than simply wandering around exhibition stands, visiting seminars or experiencing death by PowerPoint. Those benefits can range from gaining knowledge that will widen their skillset to that perfect ‘Instagramable’ image. So make sure your event is memorable!
For event organisers, keeping on top of industry changes is the only way to remain competitive. You won’t know what’s working if you don’t identify what the latest trends are and implement them. One thing that will never change however is the importance of maintaining a good relationship with your event delegates. By listening and responding to feedback, you are giving your events the best chance of success, now and in the future.