15 Non-Obvious Trends for Events

From the Influential Marketing Blog and Rohit Bhargava's latest edition of the Non-Obvious Book published one month ago: 15 Non-Obvious trends for 2017. I've been consuming Rohit's insights for awhile now and I always find myself thinking that I had noticed most of these things but hadn't taken the time to crystallize them in my brain. His book outlines how to become a trend-spotter in addition to going in-depth on each of the trends every year. Here are the 2017 trends and how to apply them to your work as an event/conference/meeting planner. I'm using Rohit's trends and descriptions of each trend and adding my own example.

Fierce Femininity – As gender continues to become more fluid, fiercely independent women are increasingly portrayed as heroines, seen as role models and changing the world. (Example – There is an expectation to see women as prominent speakers at your event, even if your industry has fewer women than men.)

Side Quirks – The global shift toward individualism leads more people of all ages to embrace what makes them unique, follow their passion, and celebrate the quirky differences in one another. (Example – Include a quirky question on your registration form that appears on attendee profiles or ask them to share something unique about themselves during networking periods.)

Desperate Detox – Addictive technology, media clutter and excess physical things add complexity of our daily lives, leading more people to desperately seek out more simplicity anywhere they can. (Example – Create white space in your agenda and physical environment. Everyone is overwhelmed in their daily lives and they bring all of that to your event where they receive additional stimulation. The simpler your design, the easier it will be for them to receive what they need.)

Passive Loyalty –  The ease of switching from brand to brand continues to empower consumers –forcing brands to get smarter about earning true loyalty of belief versus loyalty of convenience. (Example – Pride in belonging to an organization does not exist like it used to. Your audience will go to the event that best suits their needs. Corporate sponsored user-conferences are offering a very similar experience as association annual conferences so your competition may not be who you think it is.)

Authentic Fameseekers – A new generation of creators skillfully earn attention from vast audiences online by being willing share real, unfiltered and true versions of themselves. (Example – Attendees will use your event to promote their personal brand and you can leverage their content to share more authentic experiences from the event.)

Loveable Unperfection – More brands and creators intentionally focus on imperfections, flaws and personality to make their products and experiences more human, believable and desirable. (Example – Like the Swedish Tourist Association did with their twitter handle @Sweden, turn your Instagram account over to an attendee every day/week/month to document how they're using what they learned at your event or a problem they're trying to solve or have solved.)

Preserved Past – Technology offers new ways for us to preserve history, changing the way that we learn from, experience and preserve the past for future generations.(Rohit's Example – A holographic projection of holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter brings the past to life.)

Deep Diving – While our shrinking attention span leads to more media skimming vs reading, people continue to spend time with experiences and content that truly capture their interest. (Example – Ever since TED Talks came to the events industry, we've focused on shorter content. Given the right topic and presenter, your attendees may crave a workshop or longer formatted session, as long as it is interactive.)

Precious Print – Thanks to our digital-everything culture, the few objects and moments we choose to interact with in print or physically become more emotionally valuable and deeply personal. (Example – Interacting with a physical object without a screen between your attendee and the object will help them retain the experience. Stop using the phrase "hands-on session" unless your attendees will literally have their hands on something. By the way, this does not mean that we need to bring back printed programs. Those are not personal, unless you are personalizing them to your attendees.)

Invisible Technology – The more sophisticated technology gets, the more it is able to anticipate needs, protect us and provide utility while increasingly blending unnoticeably into our daily lives. (Example – Give attendees badges that alert them when they are near someone with common interests.)

Robot Renaissance – As the utility of robots moves beyond manufacturing and into the home and workplace, they adopt better human-like interfaces and even may have micro-personalities built in. (Rohit's Example – Engage chatbots for customer service interactions.)

Self Aware Data – The combination of artificial intelligence and better sensors allows data to predictively organize, identify insights and often take action with little or no human intervention. (Example – While I don't have any examples of self aware data in our industry, you should definitely start to think about the type of data you are collecting on attendees and how it could be used to improve their experience, like recommending sessions they should attend or people they should meet.)

Moonshot Entrepreneurship – Inspired by visionary entrepreneurs, more organizations think beyond profit and focus on using business to make a positive social impact and even save the world. (Example – Host awards, competitions or other celebrations for innovation in your industry. Create a social mission for your organization that your attendees can participate in. The loftier the goal, the better.)

Outrageous Outsiders – Countries and corporations see mixed benefits from the rise of outsiders and their willingness to say or do outrageous things to capture attention and change the status quo. (Example – Invite speakers from outside your industry to give your attendees a different perspective on a subject or help them learn about a new subject.)

Mainstream Mindfulness – Meditation, yoga and quiet contemplation overcome their incense burning reputations to become powerful tools to improve performance, wellness and motivation. (Example – Wellness lounges and programming are great ways to support your attendees’ needs to stay mindful during your event.)

Let me know if you have examples or suggestions that support these trends. Make 2017 a great year!


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