Event professionals the world over could be forgiven for experiencing a certain sense of déjà vu as we enter 2023. Imagine the last three years never happened and the start of 2023 feels a little familiar to the start of 2020; optimism, positive growth in the events industry and a major focus on eco-conscious experiences.
As we move into 2023 at speed, below we predict the five top trends and considerations event planners need to think about this coming year:
The Future of IRL
The event industry has welcomed the right to in-real-life (IRL) experiences, and rightly so. Questions still linger however over the cost per return of live events, especially in the B2B sector and there is certainly an argument for quality over quantity.
Recent commentary suggests big brands will consolidate show programmes and focus on integrated marketing campaigns that extend beyond fixed date exhibitions, conferences and activations and data shows that 68% see hybrid events as the preferred way forward in 2023. An ‘always on’ solution could support this shift, with virtual event platforms providing the seamless connection between IRL events so that a branded experience is available to brand audiences 24/7.
The Need for Data
This trend could also be called the ‘management of Return on Investment (ROI),’ as both are going to be equally important for event planners in 2023. Budget constraints are being felt everywhere as material costs increase and socio-economic pressures show no sign of easing.
Financial scrutiny will increase as the year goes on and we are already seeing expectations rise in the amount of tangible data every event produces. However, real-time, tangible data holds the key to success; for tailoring event experiences and providing the right information at the right time.
Again, event platforms must lead the way in data utilisation and clear reporting — with event planners using the tools at their fingertips to understand their audiences interactions and guide them to the areas that generate most ROI.
User Experience & Entertainment
The four-second attention span has never felt so real! Audiences continue to devour content in all shapes, sizes and formats — and retaining the increasing fickle consumer is top of mind for every marketer.
Social media influence, the metaverse and gamification are all methods by which brands seek to retain market share and push out their competitors. Never has the ‘have you seen,’ viral marketing mentality been more important.
How does this translate for the event planner? Incorporating new technology and content immersion into your experiences is key. But take it a step further and explore the use of a ‘digital twin’ for online audiences.
Hybrid platforms now come with a range of excellent integrations and with a little creativity, brand engagement online can be even more fun and cutting-edge than it is in real life.
Purpose & Sustainability
The return to eco-conscious events is heartening. From industry boards and big brands to agency leaders and contractors, the events and marketing communications world is embracing the need for a more sustainable world.
Research from the Harvard Business School reports that nearly 70 percent of employees say they wouldn’t work for a company without a strong purpose — and this is just the tip of the iceberg. 2023 will see brand purpose and commitment to CSR policies grow beyond all expectations.
But the traditional focus of adhering to carbon emission reduction is only one part of the story. Encouraging diversity, equality and inclusivity within communities will be important to brands, both within their own workforces and in conversation with their consumers.
Hybrid solutions that connect audiences will become more important. Short term, a virtual event that offers an alternative to travel will provide several quick wins. Long term, building an online immersive hub for your company to come together, a brand ‘home’ will provide a sustainable solution for sales kick-offs, town halls and training sessions.
B2B Marketing – Next level
The Future Marketing Insights Report of May 2022 predicts that the global virtual events platform market will surge between 2023 and 2030 — with a growth in industry value estimated to rise from US$ 6.78 bn to US$17.05 bn.
This explosive growth will be driven by prolific expansion opportunities in the B2B sector where marketing is still undergoing a significant evolution. B2C marketing has embraced online platforms quicker and is expanding into opportunities such as metaverse, however, the B2B event planner is still a little wary of connecting via the virtual event scene.
The highly insightful FMI report discusses opportunities in healthcare, especially within the conference world and the usage of event platforms for SME’s to successfully engage with consumers without big budget. South Asia & Pacific are tipped to be the fastest growing market with India to pivot growth. Importantly, the report expects there to be a rising frequency of virtual events as a support service to the live experience.
2023 – The Year Everything (and Nothing) Changes
The painful lessons of the pandemic and the pressures of continued socio-economic turmoil are changing the way we strategize. Success in 2023 requires a considered approach, marrying what we have learned about virtual platforms with new innovations in experiential marketing. 2023 looks like being a completely new — dare we say hybrid — beast.
The pure virtual event might not be the zeitgeist of 2023 as in the previous couple of years, nor may the return to IRL events be the panacea that many hoped for. The reality is that a balanced, hybrid approach to events should be the top of every event planner’s marketing strategy in 2023. It’s going to be a fun year!
To learn more about how to make the most of your events in 2023, download the gther eBook, “The Future is CLEAR for the Ultimate Event Experience”.