If like us you have been reading through trend reports and the numerous future focused articles provided by various publications, you will have noticed a number of buzz words and phrases that appear regularly. Trying to work out which are genuine trends and which are simply fads is always a bit of a challenge but it is important to help us understand what factors might impact our business in the future and identify those we should embrace.
For my latest blog I've tried to pull together the buzz words and hot topics to help us decipher some common socio-demographic themes and provides direction on the issues and trends most likely to resonate and impact the live events industry in 2019 and beyond.
The four big themes that stand out for us are:
- Changing of the Guard
Whilst the actual population make up may not have changed significantly the so called “Millennial” generation (18-35 age group) are definitely stamping their mark in the workplace. As this group matures they are taking up leadership positions and becoming the biggest generation in the workforce. Research from Millennial 20/20 Australia describes the millennial mindset as one “driven by authenticity, connection, creativity, trust, convenience and digitalisation. And they have also been dubbed the most “impatient generation” with over 90% wanting and expecting ‘rapid career progression’ (source Robert Walters whitepaper). Their attitude to careers and working is a hot topic for HR professionals and board rooms across the globe so it isn’t surprising that they will also impact the live events industry both as employees and participants/visitors.
The millennial mindset has changed audience expectations. Regardless of age, gender or race - millennials are always connected. They have easy access to a wealth of information, at any time, and they believe that live events and real experiences make them “more connected to other people, the community, and the world.” They are abreast of and expect the latest technologies and they have an expectation that experiences will be tailored to their needs.
Mental health awareness has grown exponentially. Whether it is the latest in relaxation, building resilience, eating well or simply awareness of health issues, society has embraced the benefits of wellbeing and is better informed about issues which remained silent in the past.
Whether this trend is being driven by the fear of increasingly busy lives or the media is just getting better at reporting incidents of cyber bullying, depression, etc it is trend we welcome. Taking care of our physical and mental wellbeing can only be a good thing. Wellbeing is not just a media buzz, its entered our working practices with great initiatives like yoga at work, training courses to help build resilience or celebrations like bring your dog to work day, all designed to aid us either mentally or physically and as this trend picks up momentum we fully expect it to impact the live events industry.
- Doing Good - Ethics and Sustainability
Another these which has received widespread media coverage is that of sustainability. We have seen a big focus on the environmental impact of plastic and climate change and perhaps driven in part by the millennial mindset we’re seeing a higher awareness and demand for ethical business practices. It seems our tech savvy younger generation have a strong conscience, Millennials are reportedly much more likely to consider the ethical nature of a company when deciding whether to purchase goods and services and the demand for transparency of business practices continues. In marketing “purpose” has become the latest theory to be championed with evidence to suggest great correlation between brands with a strong purpose and health business growth.
- It’s all about the Experience
Not a new trend, we first spotted this under the banner The Experience Economy but a focus on experiential continues to be important. Whether this theme is driven by a decline in the need for material items or because experience provides rich social currency we know that the desire for new experiences is strong and of particular appeal to the younger generations.
Whether these experiences are enriching people’s lives or simply giving bragging rights on social media people are sharing what they are up to and what they think of the places they go. Get it right and your visitor will help you market your event, get it wrong and they will let you and everyone else know.
...but what might this mean for organisers and venues?
Millennial visitors are more demanding when they give their time – they want the experience to be worth their while and they will let you if it fails to live up to their expectations so get to know your audience, what do they love, what really annoys them and look at how you can not only deliver against their basic needs but also how you can surprise and delight them.
Growing up in a world surrounded by tech, Millennials learn and absorb information differently – they expect to be connected and are happy to share their experiences (good and bad) with their social followers, think of how you integrate tech into your event but also what can you provide to help them get that perfect instagrammable pic.
Having grown up with tech and personalisation our younger audiences expect events to take on board their preferences. Many of these guys don’t remember a world before Amazon recommended products for them to buy, they don’t worry about giving you their information but they do expect a better and more tailored experience as a result of this data exchange.
Venues and organisers need to think about how they can use their spaces in and around events, to actively promote wellness and mindfulness. If visitors are looking for somewhere to decompress where can they go?
What food is available, if organising a conference does your caterer offer Food for the Brain or options to avoid that post lunch slump and keep your delegates energised as well as tantalising their taste buds. Gone are the days of the beige buffet – people expect more and with food porn dominating Instagram make sure you’re providing them with something that it tasty, beautiful and good for the body and soul.
Ethical and Sustainable
The big question here is how we make venues and events more “socially responsible”. Like many venues we have a stronger focus on environmental credentials but perhaps haven’t always communicated this to visitors. Whether that is reducing landfill, improving carbon footprint or building more sustainable products and services now is the time to stand proud and share what we are doing to make this world a better place.
For event organisers there is an opportunity to think about the diversity of speakers and also how they introduce sustainability messaging into their events. Look at what brands are associated with the event and how might their sustainability credential influence perceptions. Maybe this thinking might influence sponsors for an event – especially if that sponsor is vocal about their diversity and ethical culture