A shift in the hotel business universe is upon us because Marriott International has just become the largest hotel chain in the world! How? Well, they completed and approved a 13-billion-dollar acquisition of Starwood Resort and Hotels back in September 2016, but the full effect of the purchase is starting to be felt by loyal guests of both companies.
One of the most amazing components in the meeting and events industry is that while the core event doesn’t really change, everything attached to that event is based on trends.
Think about it – no matter the event – some version of it has likely been around for centuries! Conferences, business parties and holiday celebrations - these are the old mixed with the new – food, fashion, and especially technology. So what are some of the newest trends when it comes to hosting a great event or meeting? Read on!
Honestly, event and meeting security has always been a condition of event planning, but the world we live in today does have a different component to it. Not to be a downer, but the days of a first aid kit stashed in the car are gone, and the planning phase of any event has to have the conversation about security. We’re not ready to put up a metal detector, but depending on the guest list and the venue, having a beefed up security plan is definitely a bigger consideration.
The magic of any event has always and continues to be based on engagement. That trend continues by providing a full marketing campaign prior to the event that then evolves seamlessly into a mobile platform for the event. Generally this is a stand-alone app for event attendees (or in some cases, anyone who signs up or at least RSVPs), then, post-event, this evolves again into a successful marketing campaign for the company or sponsors who hosted the event. These days, it is less about the total event than about creating a community and engagement from the moment a participant signs up.
Of course, planners have always kept their finger on the pulse of the logistics of any given event, but more and more, we are asked to actively participate and work in the marketing of a given event – especially events for member-based organizations. The nature of events planning is no longer based solely on the revenues that an event raises because people may not buy right that second, but an event can tip consumers to make a choice days, weeks, or even months later. The new benchmark is engagement levels and increased overall participation by onsite and at-home participants.
The new school of thought is this - hundreds or thousands of people are getting together, all selling, buying, learning and networking, so as experts in the planning and execution of events, we know that every attendee cannot interact with every other attendee or sponsor. It is impossible to connect with all attendees in person. Successful events now integrate technology like an event app to provide the maximum ROI for attendees, sponsors and exhibitors.
The newest trends, if we can call them that, are also in the event destinations. No matter what the event could be, to stay in touch with clients, those clients want more. A considerable part of that is driven by hotels and their amenities. People traveling to events usually need a place to stay, and increasingly, they want a full experience. We expect to see resorts engage even more than they currently do, given the relatively low cost of travel right now. At the same time, consumers are also taking more family members to events, even if they aren’t going to attend. Having a full service resort to keep your spouse and kids “busy” while you work is a big draw, and full service hotels know that. They would rather lose a little on room rates for a larger event and make that up in increased food, beverage, and amenity sales.
Also, we’ve seen random off-site venues chosen – a converted warehouse, parking garages, even pop-up tents – to engage clients in almost a “flash-mob” style of event. Expect to see this happen even more (and present a true logistical challenge!)! Why? There is one big reason- Millennials.
Millennials (Generation Y)
The generation gap. The so-called Millennial generation is comfortable with technology, is mobile, and is not working traditional office hours. Added to that, they are often questioning why certain standards exist, and the values that they believe in are different. The same goes for what they like in an event – seemingly random but with a specific goal, along with a healthy dose of fun.
As event organizers, we continue to adapt any offer to understand how it can be received by the Millennial generation. A study conducted by Amsterdam RAI in 2013 which compared Generation X (the generation born from roughly 1964 to 1985) to the Millennial generation gave an outlook on the behavior of future exhibition visitors' and revealed that they will mostly be looking for a real "experience", personalized offerings and that they want to be an active part of the event.
What do all these things mean? Depending on what an event needs, everything or nothing. If you are hosting a black tie event, that event will mostly go off with the same care and planning – and strategy – that would have been used a generation ago. On the other hand, new technology could make that event truly amazing – a purpose-built mobile app, global live streaming, and an unsuspecting venue could take “nice” to “Unbelieveable!”
Well, good morning!
I’ve got a bit of a twist for you today – we’re NOT going to talk about event planning ... but we are going to talk about how to maximize event awareness and participation using your sphere of influence. There are a number of factors that are BIG things to consider as you go forward in creating the marketing plan for your non-profit event–especially with social proof. Nulia Events, LLC has been managing these things for a long time, and here are some “behind the scenes” ideas that you can use no matter how big or small your next event is going to be. Of course, we can handle all this for you, but here’s a look behind the curtain at some of the ways you can raise interest through marketing channels you are probably already using…
But social proof is more than just social media. Now, you are going to use social media, but with a twist on your usual brand of communication. Everybody is always quick to jump on Facebook when it comes to social media, but the sheer volume of choices may lead you to Periscope, Twitter, or even Pinterest (depending on your event). Before you do anything, you must first understand and define the target audience for your event. You may find that there are a number of Meetup groups in your area that are aligned with your cause and when you loop those folks in to what you're doing, they can market your event on their social media outlets (less work for you!). Selling a product to raise awareness? Pinterest is a good place to start.
Without a doubt, the important thing is to build an audience that is connected through similar interests, making them engaged and open to your communications. They become the “apostles” that carry your message forward and link to it into their groups. Social Proof.
Let’s take a look at a recent activity that validates this phenomenon – the Ice Bucket Challenge. Once it started, there was no stopping it, and the organizers needed only had to post a few meaningful and targeted pieces … the apostles did the rest. It was on Facebook, in your Twitter feed, on the nightly news – everywhere!!!!
As it got bigger, the rainmakers got into it – the celebrities, the bloggers, the “movers and shakers” that made it such a big deal that everybody felt compelled to top what others had done. And it all started with a few people putting together an exciting and strategic plan that eventually kept making news. This is a brilliant example of how to use social influence to get others involved and create a media frenzy!
You can even start right in the Twitter feed of those rainmakers. You probably aren’t going to get Taylor Swift to answer a tweet, but if you can generate some momentum (start smaller – think Billy Ray Cyrus instead of Miley), soon you are getting into those six degrees of Kevin Bacon, and now you can get the celebrity – or just a widely-read blogger – to pick up the cause, throw your event a bone, and start to get some traction.
Getting that person to buy in to your idea, though, can be a chore – and this is where posting great content – and comments – can get the feed picked up. If your Twitter feed just says “Rummage sale to benefit fire victims” – you’re not going to get any movement on the Richter Scale. But if you throw in a “#” into links about that fire, the news stories associated with it, and what others have done to help, people are going to take notice.
Simply put – think of the things that you and others in that circle would respond to, and then frame your action and message accordingly. Then, take the next step - what other demographics do you want to engage? Seek those types of outlets, as well.
Lastly – have fun and convey that attitude in your tactics. Nobody likes the idea of child abuse, but having a good time raising money to help the victims of it doesn’t have to be a somber experience. Celebrate, don’t mourn and convey that in whatever tack you take. There is enough depressing stuff out there, so show that “attitude of gratitude” and help people look forward to what you’ve got planned. Besides – the social proof is in the pudding – when you create a new reality that is more fun than people would expect, you have brought them something that has real value – and for a good cause!