2021 Event Trends (Part 2)

Mystery
How can you create more mystery in your events this year? Intrigue can get people talking, it can set your event apart, it can create exclusivity or a VIP feeling, and it can make your event just a little more exciting. Maybe it’s a surprise entertainer, a venue that is not disclosed until the day of the event, or a secret emcee. Whatever it is, think of ways to incorporate little surprises into your events this year. Remember murder mystery dinners?
Contactless Food Service
Food and beverage will be different than before in many ways, and one of which is the way that it is served. Attendees may be a little squeamish still about the way their food is served in the context of a large conference, so consider this when you are planning. Buffets are discouraged, so maybe all meals are served to each seat instead. Or maybe snacks or meals are pre-packaged with designated pick up spaces, so there aren’t as many lines, but attendees can still get up and stretch their legs. Consider the benefits of having attendees pre-order their own meals, so everyone is still getting a choice, but you have less variables on the day of the event. There are countless options for creativity when it comes to food service, but I would predict that less contact is better for this year.
Email
Have you noticed a decrease in your social media engagement over the past few weeks or months? The algorithm is constantly changing, and those algorithms are made to be profitable to the social channels themselves, not necessarily businesses or organizations. While social media can be extremely helpful, and is definitely a good tool, it may be good to begin focusing more marketing efforts on email. You own your email list, while you do not own your social media followers. Your social accounts can be turned off at any time, while you are much more in control of your email accounts. The statistics are alarming when it comes to how quickly people check their email in the morning. Work on building your email lists for your events this year, and then engage those contacts with relevant information. Email marketing is something that we are going to do more of with our large events this year, and this trend may be effective for your organization as well.

Moraine State Park Regatta 2021

We are thrilled to be working with the Moraine State Park Regatta board again in 2021. We missed it in 2020, and can’t wait to finally celebrate the 50th anniversary of Moraine State Park! This is one of our favorite events because the purpose is to celebrate the park and promote eco-recreational activities. This year’s planning will be a lot different, but we’re excited about the refocused mission, and can’t wait for summer! Let me know how you’d like to get involved.

2021 Event Trends (Part 1)

After lots of research and plenty of conversations, I’m happy to share some event trend predictions for 2021! (Not all are Covid related, either.)

Safety First

It is imperative that in-person events follow all guidelines to reduce COVID transmission. As you plan your live events, be sure to prioritize safety. That could mean social distancing, masks, hand sanitizing stations, or whatever it takes so that your event is not a superspreader. Of course don’t forget other “normal” safety considerations like fire extinguishers, security, emergency exits, first aid, etc. In order to make attendees comfortable at an event, clearly communicate and demonstrate that safety is a priority. 

Meaningful Connections

After almost a full year of very few in-person events, meaningful connection will be key to live events. People are craving interaction with other people (not on a screen), so this will be something to consider as you begin to plan for live events. For example, you may want to have your networking sessions or table discussions at your next conference be longer than in past years. Attendees will still want quality content, but may be much more attracted to your event if it means they can connect with other attendees.

Outdoor Meetings

This is a trend that I love, and one that maybe one where I’m way ahead of the curve. (I’m fortunate enough to have a beautiful outdoor space at my office for meetings, and have always preferred outdoor meetings to indoor!) People are craving in-person interaction, but they will be much more comfortable meeting outside than inside. Outdoor meetings not only provide fresh air, which is healthier, but they can provide engaging scenery, and can be more comfortable, too. After all, who wants to be in an indoor meeting when it’s a beautiful day outside? Productivity and moods can both be boosted with a little fresh air. 

Live Events During & After Covid-19

Covid-19 is bound to bring some new (and recycled) trends for live events. In case you’ve missed these posts on our social media pages, here are some predictions and pieces of advice for in-person events.
Communicating Safety Protocols
This one is huge, in my opinion. As you start to plan for live events, be sure to communicate your safety protocols! Whether it’s related to a global pandemic or not, people like to know what to expect. You can never give too much information about what to expect, and this is something that is more necessary than ever now. Be sure to tell people what you will expect and enforce. Do they need to wear a mask? Will social distancing be enforced? How many people will be attending? Will you be following all CDC guidelines? Do not underestimate the importance of communication, ever. In order for people to feel comfortable attending a live event, they are going to need to know what to expect.

Shorter Timeframe
Once live events start again, I predict that they will have shorter timeframes. This will especially be the case with workshops and conferences. The CDC has a list of recommendations for events, and they are currently recommending that anytime there is a group of people together inside that the time period is as short as possible. As you move forward with your event planning, consider ways that you can make your events more time efficient, or ways to break up the event so everyone isn’t in an enclosed space for as long.

Covid Liability Waiver
This is an interesting one— have you seen Covid liability wording being added to event waivers? This is obviously something you should check on with your lawyer. I recently saw an event (live event outside with social distancing, masks, etc.) advertised and before you purchased tickets you had to agree that if you got sick you would not hold the organizer, sponsors, etc. liable. Have you seen this yet? Is this something you think that we will continue to see for awhile, related to live events?

Local or Satellite
When live events start again, they will start local and/ or satellite. People may not feel comfortable traveling to other countries or even states, so the trend will be events within driving distance, whether they are live or satellite versions of a larger conference. There is likely less risk involved here, rather than groups of people from different areas of the country or world getting together and potentially sharing the virus. If you’re trying to think of a way to get your conference to a large group of people from different regions, consider adding one or multiple local satellite events in addition to the primary live event.

Pre-Event Questionnaire
You may want to consider a pre-event questionnaire for your next event. Ask your venue if they require any additional information from attendees, as they may have new policies in place. For example, “Have you traveled out of state in the past two weeks?” Always be sure to have contact information for attendees in case of event cancellations or postponements, or in case someone from your event gets sick and you need to notify people.

Individual Servings
To reduce the amount of times different people have to touch the same thing, individual servings will start to become the norm. Rather than buffet style where everyone serves themselves (by touching the same serving spoons), consider plated meals instead. If you’re serving appetizers, single servings are best. Keep this in mind when you’re budgeting for catering, as these adjustments may increase your costs. Don’t hesitate to ask your caterer for ideas, as they likely have creative serving and menu suggestions.

Auction Basket Themes

This is by no means an exclusive list, but it’s a helpful start. Consider sharing this list with your volunteer committee so that they have some ideas to use when they solicit donations of auction baskets.

  • Chocolate Lover!
  • Pizza Party: pasta, strainer, sauces, pizza ingredients, pizza pan
  • Fiesta: package everything in a pretty bowl. salsa, tortilla chips, lime juicer, margarita mix and glasses
  • Ice Cream Social: ice cream toppings, scooper, cones, brownie mix, candies
  • Coffee Enthusiast: k-cups, coffee mug, syrups, Starbucks gift card
  • BBQ Deliciousness: variety of marinades, skewer sticks, sauces, spices, rubs, grilling tools, gift card to meat market
  • Gardening Gift: package it all in a flower pot. seeds, herbs, little shovel, garden markers, wind chimes
  • Happy Hunter: hand warmers, beef jerky, orange hat, wool socks, Bass Pro Shop gift card
  • Try Your Luck: Lottery tickets
  • Eat Local: small gift cards to local restaurants or chain restaurants
  • Tee Time: bucket full of golf balls, golf tees, club cover, golf umbrella
  • Summer Sun: sunscreen, frisbees, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, slip n slide, squirt guns, plastic sunglasses
  • Pool Party: package everything in a beach bag. rafts, blow up toys, beach towels
  • Tailgate: package everything in a cooler. drink coozies, snacks, paper plates, foam fingers, yard games
  • Camping Kit: s’mores ingredients, s’mores sticks, folding chairs, bug spray
  • Dog Lover: dog bones, treats, toys, gift certificate to groomer
  • It’s a Wrap: wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift bags for different holidays
  • Party Time: pick a color theme or two and get paper plates, napkins, plastic cups, straws, streamers, toothpicks, plastic silverware
  • Picnic Basket: package in a basket with a handle. plastic wine glasses, picnic blanket, gourmet snacks
  • Spa Day: gift card to a local spa, lotions, bath salts, facial masks
  • Athletic Accessories: gummy bears, sports drinks, protein bars, foam roller, water bottle, headband, compression socks, massage gift card