A 2020 Vision for Corporate Event Professionals

read time

Happy New Year!

2020 feels like it’s going to be an auspicious year for the events industry. It's not about just another flip of the calendar. Or a new decade (philosophically if not technically). Or even the symmetry of the repeating two digits, which happens not quite once per century, the last being way back in 1919.

Rather, it's what 2020 brings to mind: 20/20, as in perfect vision, perfect clarity. Leaving aside the fact we certainly don't have that as a society in general at this point, it got me thinking...have we reached that stage in terms of understanding what happens at our events? Do we have clarity in understanding the value events bring to our companies?

The answer of course is "no," we haven't reached perfect vision. But we have come a long, long way in the last two decades. When we started G2Planet 20 years ago, we made it our mission to help companies improve how we collect event data and the insights we can generate.

I thought back to a conversation I had with PR guru Frank Strong about how the industry has changed:

"Today's event marketing is informed by data and analysis that didn't exist when we started, which frankly is why G2Planet was founded.

The progress made in the last 20 years in moving emotion to science in event marketing is incredible. Event marketing is now far more refined in terms of the science and data analysis enabled by all the technology advancements with mobile and wireless.

With the technology evolution, the events industry has exploded because people are out of their offices. They're having experiences. The tsunami of digital information has paradoxically increased the craving for live, human, face to face interaction.

Today, people are taking advantage of the opportunities event data provides to run their business better. For example, you can know when a specific large customer or important prospect arrives and send people to greet him or her at check-in and grab a cup of coffee. On day two or three, you can see what that VIP customer or client has been doing at the event—what activities they've engaged in, which sessions they've attended, what kind of feedback they've provided on surveys.

The event marketing team may look at higher level metrics to improve the event overall, while account managers can use data at the individual level to better manage their client relationships, deliver better service, and increase account value."

And then I started thinking about how all sorts of different technologies have evolved, enabling us to collect and use event data in ways we couldn't have imagined 20 years ago. We detailed several of these technologies in our post here last week, both evolutionary advancements in areas like online registration and surveys to revolutionary tech like smart RFID credentials and facial recognition.

We learned a couple of very interesting things from our own recent research on the biggest trends in events for 2020:

  • Attendees expect greater personalization. They want to feel, as Paula Rowntree put it, "as though the program was designed with them in mind." And Serena Holmes noted that most attendees are willing to share personal information in exchange for a more personalized experience.
  • Data integration is the biggest trend in event tech. Planners expect to be able to aggregate and analyze data from multiple different devices and systems in order to deliver that personalized experience and improve event performance both strategically and operationally.

It all comes back to data: collecting it, sharing it, making sense of it. To the mission we started out with two decades ago, and have continually refined and advanced over the years as event technology has evolved.

While we don't yet have 20/20 vision—perfect visibility—into all aspects of our events and what our attendees do and feel, we've made tremendous progress over the past 20 years.

The advantage live events have over digital or other marketing channels is the impact of the experience. Event technology is moving forward in ways that enable us to create new experiences and measure guest response, in real time, to increase the value of events for both organizers and attendees, while also informing our wider marketing strategy.