As we enter 2024, the events industry is evolving at an unparalleled pace, heralding new challenges and opportunities for event professionals. From COVID-19's impacts to the ever-changing expectations of attendees and technology, our industry is set to see dramatic shifts in the coming years. We spoke with experts from the industry to learn more about their event predictions for the future. Here's what they had to say: Helping Exhibitors Succeed Will Be More Important than Ever We all know that exhibitors are the lifeblood of any successful show. Sadly, newcomers often don't get the attention they need, which can result in underwhelming results. However, by putting in extra effort to ensure exhibitor success, you'll create brand advocates and improve your show's reputation. Marlys Arnold, a well-known trade show consultant and author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, suggests creating an exhibitor onboarding plan offering practical success tools. The plan should include free promotional opportunities and education, a mentorship program from seasoned exhibitors, and a show floor liaison to assist onsite. Why is this important for trendsetters in the event industry? Exhibitors who fail to get ROI are less likely to rebook next year, resulting in a lower participation rate and lost revenue. In contrast, when exhibitors have a successful experience, they become brand loyalists who rave about your show and encourage others to attend. To entice first-time exhibitors, you can also offer incentives such as waived fees, exclusive access, networking opportunities, and partnerships with other exhibitors. Creating an inclusive and encouraging environment is fundamental to attracting exhibitors of all sizes. "When you work with exhibitors to ensure their success, they become loyal to your show,” explains Arnold. “You also create a community of exhibitors who will help promote your future events, ensuring the long-term success of your show." Behavior Analytics Will Become More Valuable Than Survey Results Michelle Mobley, Account Director at VRS Meetings and Events Inc., believes that behavior analytics will be more valuable than survey results in the future. Attendee behavior will be analyzed through technology and tracking, providing event professionals with more accurate and actionable insights. This way, they can enhance attendee experience and engagement in real-time, leading to more successful and profitable events. Outsourcing Large Scale Corporate Events Will be on the Rise Kara Dao, Chief Operating Officer of JDC Events, foresees the trend of outsourcing large-scale corporate events continuing. As corporate brand managers have increasing responsibilities to support growth, protect their brand, and create new content, they have little time to manage the planning and logistics of their events. Additionally, with reduced teams post-COVID, outsourcing tradeshow management and other critical roles can ensure a successful event. Dao affirms that "leaning on other trusted agencies to deliver is critical." Exhibitor Education Will Be Essential to Drive Trade Show Success According to Richard Erschik, speaker/presenter for the Exhibitor Training Webinar, the pandemic forced many exhibiting companies to lay off their exhibit managers. Richard notes that this has led to new and inexperienced people being responsible for managing trade shows. He predicts that fundamental tasks like pre-show promotion should likely be addressed, leaving all aspects of promotion for visitors to the organizer. To mitigate this challenge, Richard believes that trade show organizers should leverage exhibitor education to drive their success. He suggests that event professionals who take on the role of educating their exhibitors will win in the long run. This allows for effective pre-show promotion, which catalyzes increased attendance in trade shows, ultimately leading to a successful show for both organizers and exhibitors. The Shift from Third-Party Housing Companies to In-House Management Kelly Heesterman, Director of Sales & Marketing for Meetingmax, observes that many event rights holders choose to manage their hotel room blocks in-house instead of outsourcing to third-party housing companies. Heesterman says that it made sense to outsource after the pandemic, and with reduced team sizes and unknown event attendance. However, post-pandemic, many of these organizations are saying, "Why am I giving away all of my hotel commission?" "With the economy driving prices up across the board, organizations are looking to keep more of their revenue in-house, and there can be a lot of money to make on hotel room blocks," says Heesterman. She acknowledges that it depends on the team's skill and capacity, but it's a trend they are seeing more of. Creating an Environment That Makes Attendees Feel Welcome Is Paramount Mobley also emphasizes the importance of creating an environment that makes attendees feel welcome. With attendees expecting more personalized experiences than ever before, event professionals need to prioritize making attendees feel valued. Mobley emphasizes that "attendees feeling welcomed is more important than ever" and that event professionals should focus on creating a welcoming environment rather than just surprising attendees with luxury items or experiences. Conclusion: Creating a Bright Future for the Events Industry As event professionals, we're no strangers to change. In fact, our industry is defined by it. But as we navigate the shifting landscape of events, it's important to remember what truly matters: creating experiences that leave attendees feeling inspired, connected, and valued. From the rise of new technologies to the increasing role of data analytics, there's no denying that the events industry is changing - and changing fast. But by embracing these changes and staying ahead of the curve, we can continue to deliver unforgettable events that leave lasting impacts. As event professionals, we must also be mindful of technological advancements, particularly in Artificial Intelligence (AI). In the coming years, AI will be at the forefront of the events industry, from personalized marketing messages to providing real-time data analytics. Event professionals who are adept at embracing this emerging technology will have an edge over their competitors, as AI will allow them to provide more targeted, data-driven solutions to improve attendees' experiences. It's an exciting time to be an event professional. While challenges are certainly ahead, there are also tremendous opportunities to innovate, grow, and create unforgettable experiences for attendees. By staying on top of industry trends, engaging with emerging technologies, and prioritizing attendee experience, we can confidently and succeed in the future of events. So, let's embrace the changes ahead and continue to build a bright future for the events industry.