2019 Trends: How to make a corporate event exciting

Delegates use the Gear VR (virtual reality) headset, manufactured by Samsung Electronics Co., at the Samsung Unpacked launch event ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016. Mobile World Congress, an annual phone-industry event organized by GSMA Ltd., runs from Feb 22 to Feb 25. Photographer: Pau Barrena/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Corporate events were once associated with long seminars, keynote speakers, and unappealing food, but now, thanks to innovative business leaders and events organizers, these ‘boring’ events are evolving.

With the events industry thriving, and traditional networking increasingly merging with digital networks, your corporate event has a lot of potential to break new ground in your industry.

Whilst there’s still a need for keynote talks, exhibition halls, and dedicated networking areas, the key for 2019 is to explore ways to make your audience feel more immersed and involved.

If you’re hosting a corporate event for your own business, or perhaps on the behalf of the company you work for, we’ve taken a close look at these trends and rounded up the most influential thoughts and ideas from industry experts.

 Take a look…

It’s all about engagement

If you thought corporate events were all about listening, it turns out you should give your guests chance to have their say, too. In 2019, the events industry is shifting from passive to active, leveraging as one of the few opportunities to engage with clients, staff and customers in real time.

As an events organiser, you need to consider the desires of your guests. Would they prefer to listen to a run of high authority speakers for numerous hours, or would they enjoy a more interactive experience that involves and immerses them in the day, and allows them to  interact with other delegates, speakers and exhibitors?

Hosting an interactive experience means your company and event are more likely to be shared on social media, along with being mentioned in conversation months after. This not only leads to brand recognition, but also potential sales and growth.

According to a recent study from Ecoconsultancy, 93% of marketers believe customers are looking to buy experiences, rather than products. The study shows memorable events drive consumers to learn more about a brand, feel positively about them, and – ultimately – buy from them.

So, the question is, how can you personalise a business event?  Here are a few ideas to get you started.


Say cheese

People have enjoyed taking photo booth selfies since 1925 and not much has changed. Today’s social photo booths, though, make it easy for people to take stills, videos, or GIFs, and share the images straight to their social media accounts.

Once only found in cinemas and shopping malls, photo booths are no longer being used for purely commercial purposes. Now, entrepreneurs are transforming the memorabilia machines into a key part of the event scene.
Sam Eitzen, who co-owns a Seattle-based photo booth business, estimates that the photo booth industry is now worth at least £100 million.
L.A.-based event planner Kristin Banta told The Ringer that whilst photo booths have been popular for 15 years, within the last five it’s gone from being requested for 1 in every 5 to “almost 100 percent” of events.


Go beyond reality

Experts from Eventbrite suggest incorporating VR or AR int your business event this year. According to a recent survey, these technologies are set for a huge take off this year.

Both technologies are becoming more affordable and are really allowing attendees to test the limits of their imagination. Imagine playing host to a virtual skydiving simulator, or a snow-driven ski experience?

Software giants Intel hosted the CES 2017 press conference in VR. The execution gave a clear demonstration of how VR could become the backbone of events in the near future.


Silent conferences

Multiple speakers are able to present in the same space, while attendees wear special headphones that allow them to toggle between/choose a speaker.

Rather than have one speaker in each room, a silent conference allows the organiser to have multiple speakers at different areas of the room – which also saves space. Each speaker on stage has a microphone, and is assigned an individual channel.

The delegates use receivers or head sets similar to those used when listening to live interpretation. This allows them to go between stages, and listen to different parts of each talk. This is a great way to keep the audience engaged – it’s much better for them to be able to change the speaker they’re listening to if they aren’t interested, rather than sit through the duration feeling bored and uninterested.

The 20th International Conference on Composite Materials (ICCM20) which took place in Copenhagen, opted for a silent conference. They gave delegates instant access to over 200 speakers through their headsets, which transmitted the various presentations on five different channels.


Live polling

If you want instant feedback and a quick fire way of involving delegates or an audience, live polling is an easy win.

Live polling apps are allowing events to source feedback in real-time and even crowdsource the agenda as it unfolds.

Used by some of the world’s biggest brands including Coca-Cola, Spotify, and Booking.com, Sli.do is a great digital platform that involves your audience visiting the site, entering a unique event code and accessing your unique digital event space.

Once access is granted, they can then ask questions in real-time through the app, without the fear of having to speak up in front of their peers. There’s also live polls, chat rooms, surveys, and Q and A sessions available should you wish to take advantage.

As an events organiser, you can then analyse the results and see what delegates and guests really thought of the event.


Give guests a taster

A sandwich and a drink just doesn’t cut it anymore, to really impress your attendees you’ll have to immerse them – even at lunch time.

A great example of this can be seen by, 8 Northumberland Avenue, who set up a nitrogen ice cream bar which offered attendees unusual flavours like popcorn or Jack Daniels and vanilla. Not only was this innovative and unusual, it was memorable. Plus, sweet treats are always a winner!

Live cooking demonstrations are also a fun idea, allowing guests to take a break from business and immerse themselves in something a little more lighthearted. This can also be a great way to keep your guests occupied during the lunch hour, especially those who came alone and will be hanging around until the afternoon session.


Host a quiz

It may seem simple, but this is a really effective and low cost way to get attendees interacting with one another. At many corporate events you’ll find a networking area, or there’ll be ‘networking drinks’ at the end.

Many people won’t hang around, and those who do simply want to swap business cards or have a drink whilst they wait for the train home.

To keep your guests in the room, an informal quiz – with prizes- is a fun way to get everyone networking. Whether you choose to quiz attendees on the action from the day, or you opt for a totally unrelated topic, those who stick around won’t feel pressured into awkward chats with fellow attendees, and instead can get to know their peers in an informal, relaxed way.