6 Major Changes to Business Conferences in Recent Years
The business conference industry is a lucrative market within the UK.
In 2017, the sector was worth a whopping £19.4 billion, and the UK hosted 1.45 million events, says the UK Conference & Meeting Survey 2017. This was an 8% increase compared to 2016, and the most conferences held in the country since 2008. The rate of growth is expected to continue, and events have been embracing a number of changes and trends to stay fresh and innovative.
Here with conference centre in Milton Keynes, Wyboston Lakes, we explore the trends that have sparked the surge of conferences in the UK in recent years.
1. More diversity
Every industry and sector is looking to increase diversity, and this is reflected in their events. Diversity is so important in the workplace; it allows for a wider range of ideas to flow, brings a sense of inclusivity to an audience from all walks of life, and also breaks any stereotypes associated with your business sector. Consider the recent #StillAScientist movement on Twitter as an example of this — scientists and doctors took to social media to show the true diversity of the science industry in order to discard the outdated stereotype of ‘what a scientist looks like’. In much the same way, conferences can be a great platform for every industry to show people from all backgrounds working in that business. With a wider range of speakers at an event, a wider pool of attendees is engaged.
2. Conversation over presentation
Gone are the days of being talked at for hours. More than ever, conferences and meetings want to get rid of the ‘boring’ event vibe. And nothing is duller than being talked at, with no capacity to respond or question. Ideas fire better in a discussion, so don’t rely on your slideshow too much! Encourage interaction, look into interactive technologies that can be utilized, or even give attendees and delegates a chance to host their own smaller discussions at the event.
3. Prime locations
There are so many choices available location-wise for events. Instead of hosting your conference in the same place every time, why not move it around a little? Conference News notes that businesses are choosing more and more ‘non-traditional’ event spaces for their conferences, but you don’t need to break the bank booking a quirky venue. You can stick to your tried and trusted venue and add a different theme to each event as it happens. The theme could link in some way to the major announcement or focus of that particular event in order to build excitement for the focus of the conference announcement.
4. New technology
Technology has updated everything, including how conferences are run. There’re so many ways now in which technology can enhance a conference:
- Social media — create a group for event attendees to stay in touch all year round, bounce ideas, and facilitate a sense of community. This is great for event hosts too, as people are more likely to return year after year to catch up in person with the people they’ve grown to know!
Speaking of social media, make sure you create videos of the event to share around! It’s a great way to market your next event, as people can see what to expect.
- An audience beyond the room — live streaming and web chat links have been a huge success in conference trends this year. You can use the technology to link people who can’t make it to the physical venue, allowing them to still see and take part. This particular branch of conferencing is set to grow too. Penguins points out how the virtual event market is worth $14 billion at the moment and is forecast to hit $18 billion in 2023.
- Robots delivering information — Chatbots can be used to deliver basic information regarding the event, or even to help navigate and guide attendees through the hall.
- Event apps — these are great for tracking turnout for your event, but Conference News encourages you to go further. With 91% of event planners seeing a return on investment from event apps, you’d be missing out by not using them to their full potential, with options like virtual reality and networking.
5. Increase frequency
Multiple events are highly beneficial for building relationships. Building on the sense of community, having more frequent events means you continue to strengthen those all-important business connections, but it also means you can host smaller conference days too. Why not have a few, larger events that cover larger areas of the business, and a few ‘branch’ conferences for specific portions or aspects dotted through the year? This also gives delegates more flexibility, increasing their chances of attendance and, indeed, giving them the option of picking which of the smaller, more specific events are relevant to them.
6. A greener approach
Environmental concerns have become a huge talking point for conferences and events. Penguins links the themes of music festivals to conferences, and it’s easy to see why — to create the same sense of community and connection with your audience, you need to know what they want to support and see. Going green with your event, as many music festivals now do, is one way of doing this. Using your event app is one way of going paperless, but including other recyclable or reusable resources during the event will not go unnoticed. Plus, if you’re offering snacks and drinks, ditch the plastic cups and point out the recycling facilities.
In order to stay appealing, conferences need to maintain this momentum of embracing trends and changes within the industry. Keep up with the trends, and you’ll not only reap the rewards in the short term but form a strong community and network for your company in the long term.
Sources: http://www.conference-news.co.uk/blogs/top-10-conference-trends-2018 https://www.eventbrite.com/blog/2018-conference-corporate-event-trends-ds00/ https://www.penguins.co.uk/blog/conference-trends-2018-infographic https://www.irishnews.com/magazine/science/2018/05/10/news/scientists-are-battling-stereotypical-depictions-of-themselves-with-stillascientist-1327151/ https://www.penguins.co.uk/blog/conference-trends-2018-festivalisation