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It feels like we were just talking about trends to look forward to in 2016, and now 2017 is nearly here. The past year has seen some incredibly innovative trends in event planning and marketing, and there’s plenty of new ideas to consider adding to your team’s event-planning repertoire in the new year. We’ll get you started with some of our favourites.

1. Embrace Diversity

We live in an eclectic, diverse society in which every demographic has something to offer. This means it’s time for events to move away from traditional lineups and embrace the diversity within our population. Diversity and inclusivity at events will not only attract new guests who may not have attended otherwise, but it also more accurately reflects present times and the people who fuel our communities.

2. Follow The Locals

While we’re on the topic of embracing a city’s population, why not adopt the way of life of its denizens during an event? In many large cities—though Edmonton is a bit of an exception here—conference and event centres are located away from the heart of a bustling urban core, removing attendees from many of the aspects that make a city great. Organizers of large-scale events around the world are beginning to take note and adopting a “live like a local” ethos. For example, when airbnb held its European hosts conference, the company teamed up with Vizeat, a platform that offers shared dining experiences, to pair delegates with hosts in Parisian homes to experience an authentic, locally sourced meal. This trend is also opening companies up to the idea of hosting their events in lesser-known venues or locales.

3. The Power Of Co-Creation

For years, the event industry has focused on content creation—which in and of itself is not a negative thing, but there hasn’t been a great deal of focus on co-creation with attendees. Co-creation means challenging the status quo and allows attendees to feel more invested in the events they frequent. They feel like their voices are heard, and allowing attendees to play a greater role in the creation of an event will often mean more positive feedback and a stronger relationship for future years.

4. Virtual Reality Meets Real Life

2017 will be a time when mixed reality becomes more than a buzzword. The intersection of virtual reality and real life will allow for global connectivity at events, blurring the lines of what a venue means—at least in the traditional sense—and opening the door for new ways to interact. The combination of the two realities will mean remote attendance is not only possible but exciting too. People around the world can feel like they are part of an event thousands of miles away, and organizers can offer a real-time experience than transcends what we ever thought possible.

5. Enter The Drones

We can’t talk about new ventures in technology without mentioning drones, and they’re going to quite literally be on the horizon in 2017. Event streaming has become increasingly popular in the past year with options like CrowdStreaming and Facebook Live. This is all user-generated, of course, and the quality can admittedly be lacking at times. That said, drones equipped with 4K cameras and the ability to live stream on social media channels will be used by many event organizers to offer engaging experiences similar to those discussed in the previous point

6. Heads Up

Look around at any event and you’ll see countless people with their heads down, eyes glues to their phones. This is known as “heads down” tech, and 2017 will place greater emphasis on “heads up” tech. Organizers have recognized that attendees are not going to put their smartphones away during an event, but they’re devising ways to employ “heads up” tech through interactive games, polls, and crowd-streaming content. Attendees are still using their phones, but this is a way to engage them with your event and not just their social media feeds.

7. Control The Story

Have you heard of newsjacking? It’s about to become a big trend in 2017. In short, it’s a high-risk, high-reward strategy for social-media engagement that injects your brand or event’s message into a breaking news story. The reward can be a high level of engagement with audiences, but newsjacking takes a great deal of understanding when it comes to the story being leveraged. Pay close attention to trending topics on social media and entertainment news to see how your event can overlap.

8. A One-Stop-Shop

Planning an event of any size often means dealing with multiple vendors who will be able to work within your desired venue. Larger convention centres have been operating one-stop-shop planning options for some time, but now smaller venues are getting on board. Having your venue, AV equipment, caterer, liquor services, etc all in one place streamlines the planning process and ensures all your bases are covered.

9. Can You Keep A Secret?

This may sound contradictory given how much emphasis is placed on event promotion, but secret events are on the rise. These exclusive events are tailored to those “in the know” and create immersive experiences for attendees. An example of this is the Bilderberg Meeting, an invitation-only annual conference for 150 attendees that is so secretive its sparked several conspiracy theories. Under-the-radar events may not have an extensive reach, but they are able to create a unique experience that forms a sense of camaraderie between your brand and those in attendance.

10. More Multi-Disciplinary Events

Conferences and festivals don’t have to exist in different realms. We’ve seen the continued success of events like SXSW in Austin, Texas, where multi-disciplinary learning and entertainment seamlessly co-exists, and this type of collaborative relationship will only continue to expand in 2017. Event and conference attendees have eclectic interests, so why can’t what they choose to attend bring together the best of both?

We hope this has given you some inspiration that will help make all of your events in 2017 a success!

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