DoubleDutch's Jan Sysmans shares predictions for the top 5 event trends in 2016.

One of the things I enjoy at the end of the year is re-reading predictions made at the beginning of the year to see how “on the money” they were. I’ve always wondered what crystal ball people were looking in when making their predictions…

  • BizBash’s listed 9 Event Tech predictions for 2015. I think they looked into their 2016 crystal ball when making their 2015 predictions.  While the seeds for these predictions may have been planted in 2015, most are still waiting for their break-out moment.

  • SocialTables had a pretty good crystal ball for their 15 Event Technology Predictions To Help You Navigate 2015 list. Real-time audience engagement, ROIT, personalized event apps, active event participants, social media, gamification and the focus on data are all on the money.

  • 2015 also had a milestone date; Oct 25. So for good fun here are the 10 Back to the Future predictions that came true. They did have a very good crystal ball.

As luck has it, I got my hands on a brand new crystal ball! Here are my top 5 event trend predictions for 2016.

1. Big Data will Revolutionize Event Management

Big data has been making in-roads everywhere and 2016 will be the year where the use of big data in event marketing will go mainstream. Events are the final frontier in the marketing budget where a lot of decisions on spending and program ROI are made using anecdotal evidence. Digitizing advertising, email and web marketing have completely transformed how marketers measure results and make decisions. In the same way,  digitizing the event floor will give eventprofs access to rich data analytics. This will fundamentally change how they organize events and make them outstanding and truly unique. Learn more about using big data to make your events more engaging.

2. Event Attendees will be Mobile Only

In 2016, more and more people will be comfortable using their smartphone and tablets as their device of choice. According to the data from the world bank and wikipedia; most countries in the developed world have more mobile phones than people. Hong Kong for example tops the list with 2.4 mobile phones for every 1 person and what’s even more amazing is the penetration of smartphones. It is estimated that 96% of people in Hong Kong use their smartphone every day to go online. These people are bringing their smart devices to events and expect to be fully productive. This will have tremendous implications for event organizers (and conference centers) from increased demand for wifi to a big need for charging stations and the ability to track attendee whereabouts throughout the event.

3. Active Event Participants

One of the 2015 predictions from SocialTables was around active participants. I believe that 2016 will be a breakout year for active event participation and engaging, interactive Mobile Event Apps like DoubleDutch, are uniquely positioned to enable this. Just as the Millennial generation made instant gratification commonplace; event attendees will expect the ability to actively participate in events, provide instant feedback through polling, activity streams and social media and demand that event organizers respond to their feedback and implement changes where possible. Event organizers can take advantage of this desire by engaging with attendees before the event starts and update the event agenda based on that pre-event conversation. A very good example of the impact of engaging attendees before the event starts was the 2015 edition of the XOXO festival in Portland, OR.

4. Death of the Paper Handouts

One of the traditions at events are paper inserts in the conference bag. Exhibitors are offered the chance to add one or more inserts as part of their sponsorship. Similarly, Exhibitors hand out lots of paper collateral at their booths, but nobody knows who reads the datasheets and who tosses them away. I predict that 2016 will be year where the majority of events will go paperless; for the following reasons:

  • Growing awareness among attendees of the paper waste that is involved with these handouts.

  • Mobile Event Apps allow event organizers and exhibitors to share a lot more collateral through the App than through handouts.

  • The big data revolution makes it easier to track on how the collateral is used through the app and who downloads it. This in turn provides much richer reporting and actionable data to the event organizers as well as to the exhibitors.

This LinkedIn Pulse article: From Paper to Digital: The Changing Face of Event Marketing lists the different benefits ending paper handouts has.

5. The Rise of the Event Marketer

2016 will be the year where #EventProfs will become the new marketing heros. We here at DoubleDutch are doubling down on this prediction and will be sharing a lot more with you around the Rise of the Event Marketer. If you want to stay informed; download Mobile Event Apps for Dummies Guide and we’ll add you to our mailing list.

There you have it, my event trend predictions for 2016. What do you think, did I look at the right crystal ball? I would love to hear from you and what your event trends predictions for 2016 are.