By TIFANI JONES
Kalahari Resorts & Conventions
Whether you’re planning an association event or managing your company’s exhibitor presence at a trade show, it’s important to capture the interest of your audience before, during and after the meeting or event. Here are five trends to incorporate into your 2019 events to help attract attendees and set your event apart from the competition.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual reality is a great way to tell your company’s story or give attendees a direct experience with your mission, product or service. We’re seeing more and more event planners offer a VR experience or entertainment, as custom applications are now widely available and affordable. There are VR options at every price point, starting with the simple Google Cardboard application. Make sure the event space has the technological capabilities and support staff in place to make your VR experience run smoothly. The trend in virtual reality also lends itself well to another top trend for events – experiential.
Attendees want to have a memorable experience that uses all of their senses, and with today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to make that happen. We’re seeing event designers use engaging interactive displays and 8K screens that work together to tell a powerful visual story. We’re also seeing event elements that engage the other senses to help the audience make an emotional connection with the brand. From unique lighting design and touch-panel interfaces, to scent marketing – the opportunities here are endless. One of my favorite sensory tools is the Sound Shower – a temporary overhead system that creates quiet in the midst of a trade show, for example, so booth participants can easily hear your video or music or converse one on one, without shouting over the noise. Tools like this can create just the right environment to meet your event goals.
Events stand out when they make things personal for attendees. From invites to event tracks, giveaways and follow-up, there are opportunities to personalize every step of your event plan. If your event has different audiences, say first time attendees and long-time attendees, create event experiences personalized to the needs of each. Giveaways or swag bags are expected at events and trade shows, but the new trend toward personalization makes the takeaway something to remember. With 3-D printing, you can personalize everything from food to branded giveaway items, and it’s a creative way to build buzz and draw attendees to your booth or event for a takeaway that’s one of a kind.
How can you be useful to your specific audience? What are their needs? The answers give you a starting place to how you might provide value at the event. Sometimes when we get creative, we forget about the everyday ideas that work really well and have universal appeal. Next time you’re in an airport, notice the one section that’s always overcrowded. The charging stations. Think about your audience and what you can offer that would be the most useful to their event experience. Maybe it’s a giveaway of comfortable shoe insoles or staging part of your space with a lounge area of recliners with charging stations – giving attendees a place to rest and recharge.
Don’t forget the fun. Work life balance is a constant goal for today’s workforce and workplace and corporate cultures are becoming more team-oriented, laidback and open minded. Increasingly, event planners select destination locations for meetings so attendees feel that escape from the everyday and can immerse themselves in the experience. Planners also see a lot of success when they incorporate entertainment into their event. From unique food and beverage experiences to thrill-seeking adventures, fun elements and unexpected destinations take the event from something that an attendee “has to go to” to something they look forward to year after year.
Tifani Jones is Corporate Director of Sales for Kalahari Resorts & Conventions, where she oversees a team of event professionals who have hosted more than 22,000 group events at the resort’s locations nationwide. Jones is passionate about the meetings industry with more than 20 years experience in hotel and hospitality as director of sales for both Marriott and Sheraton brand hotels, and the Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau. For information on Kalahari services for trade shows and events, call 855-411-4605 or email OHGroups@KalahariResorts.com.