By Lisa Major
After almost two years of dealing with the pandemic and the grueling challenges it brought about, event marketers are busy planning and preparing for the year ahead. And while there are still many unknowns, one thing is certain; events are back and in high demand. So much so that a recent study reports that 81% of brands will invest in experiential brand activations in 2022, which rivals pre-pandemic data.
As we head into 2022, technology and new ideas will help brands deliver engaging and memorable experiences to consumers when they need them most. While the opportunities are endless, here are five trends and predictions for the experiential and event marketing industry this year.
Virtual events were a necessity at the height of the pandemic and hybrid events soon followed as restrictions on gatherings were lifted. While the digital addition to in-person events offers flexibility and expanded reach, the biggest challenge is finding ways to keep virtual attendees engaged. As more event organizers experiment with hybrid formats in 2022, the priority will be to keep those behind the screen engaged with shorter and more interactive sessions to break up the monotony.
One of the forecasted event trends in 2020 was prioritizing sustainability. Then the pandemic happened, and priorities shifted. With in-person events back in full swing, event marketers and organizers, vendors, and venues are once again focusing on sustainable business practices. From ditching single-use plastic to using recycled and repurposed materials to experimenting with digital swag, sustainability initiatives are back in the spotlight in 2022.
Live events have become more meaningful thanks to the pandemic. What we once took for granted now seems like a luxury. The thrill of being with others and the sensory experience that events deliver are powerful influences that brands can use to their advantage. But, consumers also expect more from brands coming out of this hiatus. They want more personalized experiences, better content, and more focus on the things that matter to them.
Businesses have been investing in live events for quite some time because they offer a ton of exposure while creating brand fans, resulting in positive ROE and ROI. According to a 2019 study, more than “41% of marketers agreed that event marketing is the most effective channel for driving business outcomes.” But heading into 2022, with the pandemic still looming, some brands may be hesitant to invest in live events due to budget constraints and the unknown of what lies ahead. For this reason, they will seek out quality partnerships over quantity and partner with events that make the most sense and offer the most return.
Smaller, more intimate events will be more prevalent this year. While mega conferences will still be a key player for many organizations, those with budgetary restrictions or safety concerns may opt for localized and regional events. If anything, the pandemic taught us that these types of events feel more personal to some attendees and evoke more emotion than their larger, multi-day counterparts.
While there is no crystal ball to predict what’s in store for events in 2022, all bets are that the focus will be on creating engaging, meaningful, and memorable experiences while embracing innovation, technology, and new ideas.
Making your next event stand out can be an enormous challenge — one you certainly don’t need to tackle alone. You may have a great event or campaign in the works, but you also need to make sure you have the right staff to make it successful.
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