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3 Key Events Trends to Watch for in 2018

This time last year, you may recall my listing of “7 Key Trends and Topics to watch for in 2017 Comms” – what’s your verdict on my predications? I’m going to let you decide. Operating as Head of Insight and Innovation for 2 years, I’d like to consider myself as being marvellously ahead of the curve when it comes to trends. So, as I look into my Harry Potter-esque glass ball of future-telling (just kidding), here are my estimations for the following year in the events production industry…

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AI Assisted Events

The march towards a more automated world is well underway and events is no exception. I think over the next year and beyond we will start to see the rise of Artificially Intelligent Events Assistants. These programs, represented online and in situ at venues will be emotionally intelligent and able to field delegate or festival goer questions in real time. They will have an encyclopaedic knowledge of their event and venue, but for emotionally complex questions, they will always direct to a real person. This is not a threat to event organiser jobs, but could help to manage what some research suggests is as much as 48% to 63% of an organiser’s time fielding simple questions and doing admin.

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Hybrid events through VR

2018 will see the continuing maturity of VR as a valid live event component. Here, I am making a clear distinction between the often-misused term Virtual Events and what I’m describing here are Hybrid Events. Using VR to enhance events or bring remote delegates or festival goers to the experience has been a gimmick at best so far, as essentially, a remote delegate can merely assume a camera’s line of sight, live on site. Facebook’s recent demonstration of their interactive VR experience and the continued development of the technology in this area will see us move towards a more fluid and interactive experience. This trend’s continued development hinges on saturation in the marketplace of VR devices. It will never be effective if brands and festivals have to provide their audiences with the technology themselves.

"I think over the next year and beyond we will start to see the rise of Artificially Intelligent Events Assistants."

Better Events through Beacons

Designed primarily as a retail device, beacons have had a slow march towards popularity, however it is in events that I feel they have come into their own. These devices allow personalised, automated, close-proximity communications with delegates, attendees and festival goers which enrich experiences and create a level of data and analysis at the back-end that event organisers have been searching for, for decades. Used with impressive effect at the Detroit Motor Show and Coachella festival. While described as a trend here, beacons will be a ‘must have’ for any event planner by the end of 2018.

By Callum Gill - Head of Insight and Innovation