With the goal of setting the bar in event experiences even higher, these are our top five trends in eventing for 2018.

#1 Video killed the radio star

Since the introduction of drones and GoPro’s, videography has started to edge toward the realm of virtual reality. The best and most recent example was from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea where Intel created a VR drone performance like no other. Known as the Intel Shooting Star drones, some 1200 of them when combined formed an aerial vehicle (UAV) specifically designed for entertainment purposes and controlled by a pilot. LED lights on the vehicle created holographic colour combinations in the form of the Olympic rings as well as an animated snowboarder and dove. Not only was it a spectacular experience to watch but is an indication of what is to come with the mind-bending possibilities of drone and VR technology.

Photo source: Intel

From wedding videos to live social media footage, the use of these technologies create the feeling of ‘really being there’ and enhance the all important maxim of an authentic experience, or as it were, an authentic experience of the experience. The impact that live video is having on social media is profound. Facebook Live videos for example are not only watched 3x longer than other videos but users comment on Facebook Live videos at 10 x the rate of normal videos .

The implications of this for event engagement and exposure are obvious in that the live streaming allows for an uncensored take on an event without any editing. There is also the potential for tighter security with evolving video technologies that are coming to the fore.

#2 Everyone’s invited

One of the biggest trends to continue its upward trajectory is that of the family friendly event where every age group and family member is catered for. This is particularly the case with weddings and weekend or multi-day festivals. Think a kid’s play or entertainment area, or an open-air cinema complete with popcorn machines for tweens (or adults depending on the PG of the movie) or a poker and cigar lounge for more seasoned event goers.

This trend isn’t just about entertainment or how to keep guests busy but also filters into their needs and therefore how to make the experience more enjoyable. For example: a noise-free peaceful space for young children to retreat to when it’s past their bed time, or a pamper parlour for every member of the family to enjoy a time-out, whether it’s a manicure, massage, makeover, or place to charge your phone.

#3 Let tech be thy teacher

Aside from the apps available today to help event personnel stay organized and on top of their A-game, the use of technology in event management is getting more and more intelligent and complex.

Crowd-shaping is a term that’s gained much cadence in the industry in the last while and shows no sign of abating. Essentially it’s used to refer to event organizers manipulating elements of an event in real time based on guests interactive feedback. Lighting to bright? With a quick double-tap the lighting rig adjusts. Music too soft? Same thing.

Taking it a step further where guests don’t have to engage at all, bots or interactive devices can sense if the crowd starts to dimish, organizers then figure out why and start adjusting the music, atmosphere, lighting etc and so it becomes like a live experiment where guests are the subjects.

There is also gamification, which is according to EventMobi is the “the integration of game-like thinking in nongame environments to bolster engagement, loyalty, and fun.” This is an important element for brands that are either launching or introducing a new product or experience because virtual reality is the means to communicate in the most visceral way to potential consumers.

 #4 An all-sensory experience

Engaging the senses have always been fundamental to event management, doing this well can be the difference between a mediocre event and one that is unforgettable. But beautiful flower arrangements, delicious foods and OTT décor can go so far, these days creating an experience where all 6 senses are engaged, or cross-engaged, is where things are at. The more experiential the better

Think holographic glasses that turn the world around you into a montage of amazing visuals, or using scent and taste in interesting ways like blind food tastings. Engaging the linked senses of taste and smell is particularly impactful because it is believed that the olfactory centre in the brain is closely linked to the memory one which is why a certain smell can cause a slew of memories to flood back. The message here? If you want your event to be remembered for ages, engage the sense of smell.

At last year’s Coachella Music Festival in the Colorado Desert, festival goers were treated to a multi-sensory experience courtesy of tech brand HP. The 11 000 square food dome created by Obscura Digital and sponsored by HP was suggestively called Antarctica and provided a refreshing respite from the intense desert heat as it was blasted with aircon.

The dome itself was touted as the world’s biggest 360 degree projection dome ever and accommodated 500 people at a time.  The audiovisual display on offer was akin to an art installation and fluxed between panoramic settings in nature to travelling through the human blood stream and throughout space.

 #5 Ticket sales

Event organizers are making the purchase of tickets a lot more accessible thanks to online ticket resources now being implemented on social media platforms. So on an event’s Facebook page for example, there is the option to purchase tickets through the platform as opposed to going to a third party website.

But the buzzword in ticket sales is RFID wristbands (Radio Frequency Identification), an application that has been around for a year or two but is starting to gain increased popularity. As the name suggests, it’s a techie solution to guests waiting in queues, scratching in their wallets for cash, and being able to take part in fun, bespoke digital activations. With all the information that the guest needs when attending the event locked up safely in the wristband (identification, email, ticket an bank account info), RFID tech lets guests really immerse themselves in the experience.

Whatever these trends mean to event organizers, and how they implement them, the take home message here is that the success of an event is far less about about the numbers (quantity) and more about the impact of the experience (quality).