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Our hot and spicy predictions for the 2018 events world

More, more, more: disruptive technology, personalisation and festivalisation

Predictions can be like reading tea-leaves, considering the speed things happen these days. So we share these hot and spicy predictions with a pinch of salt. It might be this year. It may be next. But the trends shared here are a fair bet, in our view. 

Keep an eye on Gen Z. They are open and always on. A super connected existence.

But, it’s not all about technology. Virtual Reality was a buzzword one minute and practically a store cupboard item the next. Artificial Intelligence became an abbreviation, before we had time to catch our breath. And indeed, we expect AI to infiltrate many aspects of the live experience; personalizing content and messages delivered. But, more significant, will be the push towards more participative experiences based on leadership and behavioural psychology.

AI & MACHINE LEARNING WILL PERSONALISE EXPERIENCES.

Curating an intimate knowledge of your guest’s preferences will make it easy for you to offer them more of what they like, expertly tailored to their specific needs. For example, according to Yahoo Finance, “Airbnb’s algorithms could [soon] be fine-tuned and evolve to a point where it uses object recognition to pinpoint — without the aid of a human worker — the look and feel of a place, and the commonalities among the listings you click and dwell on. Does it have a pool? Is there a visible coffee maker in the kitchen? Those are signals we can be picking up on to help surface other places that have similar characteristics.” How long before AI and machine learning is matching customer needs, emotions, aspirations and previous experiences, tweets, posts and click-throughs to define messages and experiences, and matching the best account manager or expert for a customer interaction?

PASSIVE MEASUREMENT WILL BECOME THE NORM.

Technology has now reached a tipping point where experiences and emotions can be measured passively, and this means we’ll be able to measure the impact of experiences and influence the experience your guests have, in real time. Increasingly, there’s a correlation between the effectiveness of a live experience and the emotional engagement, intensity of interest, the speed content is shared and the seniority of the person sharing.

According to research at Hitachi.com, “Although ’surveillance’ is the image many people may bring to mind when they think of behavioral measurement, it is in fact a disruptive technology. It helps people find new knowledge opportunities, grow, create, and manage their lives both at work and life. The growing pace of change is being accompanied by many organizations that, although they can resolve the problems they confront, are unable to identify and take advantage of opportunities.”

SOCIAL, IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES WILL PREVAIL

These experiences will prevail over the lonely and individualistic, like VR. The VR that will flourish will be 360 and used for discrete applications, like remote attendance of short burst meetings and panel discussions. The Virtual Reality Society puts in money on CAVE, Automatic Virtual Environments, where the guest is fully immersed within a cube-like space in which images are displayed by a series of projectors.

BEHAVIOURAL PSYCHOLOGY WILL BECOME A KEY DISCIPLINE.

As live events become more participative experiences, designed to create strategy in real time, encouraging collaboration and behavioural change, so new competitors will emerge. These new players will have HR, training and coaching backgrounds, like Heidrick & Struggles.

In their words, “Cultures happen by either default or design. An organization's culture plays a significant role in its ability to successfully execute strategic plans. We know that CEOs who treat culture as a key business strategy create a strong competitive advantage when they purposefully focus on creating a thriving culture throughout the organization that aligns people to the mission, purpose, vision, and values.”

FESTIVALIZATION GIVES MORE CHOICE AND CONTROL.

We will continue to see live events curated as festivals, where the event allows guests more choice and control of what they experience. Events will increasingly become a melange of many different experiences of irresistible variety. Curated as an homogeneous whole. The festivalization events offers guests an experience that delivers both education and entertainment. It takes just a quick look at the IMEX website and the article, ‘Creativity is the sizzle of an event‘ to read more about how meetings, events and exhibitions have become more like festivals. 

BESPOKE, PRIVATE EVENTS FOR BIG BRANDS.

Super brands will increasingly move towards creating their own events. Steve Jobs worked this one out back in the heady, Orwellian-days of 1983.  Cool brands are embracing the opportunity to host immersive experiences that offer them total control of their guests and the guest experience. This will inevitably mean that they shun industry shows where they end up competing with the noise and clamour of rival brands.

ECO-SYSTEMS WILL BECOME THE DE FACTO FUTURE FOR BRANDS. EVENTS WILL GO TO THE CLIENT

The disruptive nature of technology means most companies and brands are redefining their future as platforms or eco-systems – more service than product. Think car sharing schemes. Even some coffee brands are adopting subscription models. These eco-systems require tapping into complex supply chains, and building communities. Events are no longer a broadcast or cascade phenomenon. They’re experiences that enable co-creativity within the eco-system. So the roadshow format embeds the event in the client’s innovation and CRM processes. The super pop-ups allow you to manage the individual experiences of a carefully chosen and curated audience.

THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES.

We promised you fun. Before the pantomime season ends, we predict new event agencies will emerge with playful, irresistible names, like ‘BUNFIGHT & FREEBIE’, ‘STAND-UP & SPOUT’ and ‘POPUP AND SHOCK’.

 

Enjoy 2018.

Author: Christopher Joyce is a copywriter at Shelton Fleming, a creative agency that works with the world’s top brands. The agency is known for intelligent live events that give brands a personal connection to audiences.

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