From disposable plastics to gin festivals - my top event trends for 2018

Posted on Wed 31st Jan 2018 at 2:09pm

Jo Mayer, Head of Marketing at Showlite, takes a look at the event industry trends for 2018 in this blog post for ESSA

I like to take in all the predictions and trends articles that pop into my newsfeed at the start of a year– it’s always interesting to take a look at what event professionals think is around the corner, what they’re hoping for and what they may be afraid of!

Trends are notoriously hard to spot early on, and this year’s crop of predictions has focused, unsurprisingly, on technology which continues to deliver a blistering pace of innovation across all parts of the industry. But there are other factors in play too, which I think are worth a mention. So here are my 6 top event industry trends for 2018:

TECHNOLOGY. As mentioned before, technology marches forward at a blistering pace – digital technology especially – and we’re seeing technological solutions appear everywhere. Events now generate more digital data, more information, than ever before, and the race is on to extract commercially valuable meaning from the data without falling foul of GDPR, due to take effect in May this year. Managing data is a specialist task, and I think that there will be a growing service sector that offers to collect, analyse and manage mass-data in a GDPR compliant fashion. GDPR advice will continue to jam the airwaves, and I expect a bit of snake-oil will be sold on the back of doubts about compliance amongst event industry companies.

SECURITY AND SAFETY. Whilst security and safety are always a top priority for event professionals, the rapidly changing nature of security threats in 2017 have put the whole industry on high alert. Venues in particular have strengthened their security arrangements, investing in personnel and equipment to prevent unecessary delays due to additional. Behind the scenes ESSA, AEV and AEO have all been coordinating their response in terms of regularising security procedures and cooperating with government and law enforcement. I think that digital technology will be stepping up to help with security – from monitoring access and movement to artificial intelligence detecting suspicious behaviour on CCTV.

ORGANISER VENUES. More venues will organise their own events in 2018. Venue event calendars may fill up fast, but there are always gap and venues seeking to maximise their occupancy are taking the organiser view, and developing their own in-house organiser resources to deliver events that plug the gaps in the calendar. Other venues are partnering with trusted organisers to deliver their events, using their unique local knowledge and expertise to devise events to bring in the visitors.

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF DISPOSABLE PLASTICS. The sea-change in sustainable practices, arriving on the back of BS8901 and ISO 20121, is set to continue. Disposable plastic straws, plastic lined paper cups, plastic cutlery and the like will start to go the way of the paper brochure. David Attenborough’s Blue Planet series has left no-one in any doubt of the catastrophic effects of waste plastic in the oceans, and the public mood is highly supportive. Suppliers will be racing to provide sustainable, biodegradeable and practical alternatives to market.

NICHE EVENTS. The segmentation of the event industry continues apace, and the growth of smaller, niche events catering to very specific interest groups or consumer profiles is set to continue. The event services sector is developing turnkey solutions for events of every scale, making it easier than ever for organisers to put small events together – whether they are ‘pilot’ events designed to grow into national ones or not.  Publishers and production houses are taking advantage of the reduced cost of entry to support their TV shows and magazine with a dedicated event, exploiting the power of face-to-face meeting to amplify and promote their brands.

GIN FESTIVALS. Despite spirited attempts by dozens of gin manufacturers, wholesalers and distillers, the gin festival market is not yet saturated (even if the visitors are). The gin market has expanding over the last few years, and this is due in no small part to a proliferation of small gin festivals nationwide. If I had to predict a trend here, it would be that these gin festivals have demonstrated that it’s possible to create a buzz around a product, and let the event industry do the rest. We may have reached peak gin, but perhaps we can look forward to a nationwide rash of Rum festivals next?


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