Even though budgets stay tight, new technologies and the explosion of mobile communication are boosting the ability of event companies to engage audiences and extend the reach of their events. These are some of the major trends identified in the 11th annual "50 Top Event Planning Companies" list, which appears in the next issue of Special Events.
THE TECH REVOLUTION
"The biggest impact on events and product launches is the inclusion of new technologies that enhance the event experience. We see augmented reality, mobile apps and integrated social media supporting consumer events. These tools are a great way for clients to maintain contact with consumers, and to send custom information before, during and after a live event. We are excited to implement some new technology applications in the coming months and into 2013."
Automotive Events, Rocky River, Ohio
"The biggest influencer today is the overwhelming shift of media consumption to digital and mobile channels. Event attendees will almost always turn to their mobile device when sharing their experience, and whether they're posting photos to Facebook or Instagram or Tweeting updates, it's extremely important for event designers to make this process as seamless as possible.
"With solutions as simple as social check-ins and QR code integration to fully customized mobile applications like doubledutch, a strategy for engaging event attendees and extending the experience beyond the venue doors should be considered a necessary (if not integral) piece of every concept."
"Clients have turned to us to help them navigate the ever-growing digital and technology landscape when it comes to their events. They want to learn the ways to effectively use the technology that’s out there to attract new business, disseminate information and elevate the experience at their events."
Barkley Kalpak Agency, New York
BUDGETS STAY TIGHT
"The need to justify a live meeting is greater than ever. With costs, scheduling and varying levels of employee engagement, companies want to make sure it is worth their time. While this provides some problems to the old model of event business, it opens up many new avenues for digital deliverables and conference ad-ons--apps, websites, etc.--to be produced."
Broadstreet, New York
"We are seeing more consulting requirements, especially in the area of social marketing. Companies are still cost-conscious and not wanting to look as though they are producing extravagant events. Budgets, overall, seem to be 10 percent to 25 percent lower."
CMS Communications, Los Angeles
"The economy is coming back, so at this point it becomes all about value. Clients will spend dollars if they see the value in those dollars. It then becomes our job to be able to quantify what we do and what the tangible and intangible values are."
Go West Creative Group/Go West Cerbelli, Westlake Village, Calif.
"We are moving towards sustainable meetings. The past: hundreds of 3-inch binders with over 200 pages of information. Instead of traveling that route, we are working on providing iPads to attendees. The meeting's information will be pre-loaded via Adobe. Simultaneously, we are developing a conference app that will be used throughout and offer all the materials via a conference-specific app."
EventWorks, Los Angeles
"The following trends have been gaining momentum as the public’s comfort level with technology increases. We believe these trends are significantly changing the way brands engage their audiences and create results:
"Mass customization/personalization: Enabling the creation of an individualized experience within a public venue creates deeper engagement via personal relevancy.
"Mobile/social media uptick: As smart phones become more prevalent, their use is enabling both brand marketers and customers to blur the lines between their physical and digital 'lives.'
"Digital interactivity/content: Given the public’s exposure to recent innovations in the tech space (tablets, touch screens, augmented reality), they are increasingly comfortable with digital interactivity. Audiences tend to gravitate towards these kinds of installations and the content that drives them making them very successful vehicles through which to attract, engage, immerse and even reward users. "
George P. Johnson Experience Marketing, Auburn Hills, Mich.
"The almost universal penetration of mobile devices and the growth in technologies like NFC (near field communications) means that live events will become dramatically more interactive and useful for the people who attend them. Sustainability has become an expectation—events are dramatically more eco-friendly than five years ago, though there’s still room for improvement.
"Bad trends: There’s still a tendency to hire event agencies based on price. That has never been a formula for success. We are hopeful, however, that better educated procurement departments will shift away from this approach and focus more on objectives and impact. The economy is not robust enough to give marketers confidence about increasing their budgets as much as we’d like!"
Jack Morton Worldwide, Boston
"Technology is affecting every corner of the business environment and consumers’ lives. Social media and mobile have massively extended the reach of events and brought new ways to personalize events and engage with participants on-site and remotely. Enormous amounts of data on almost any subject are just a few clicks away--this ‘information overflow’ empowers customers but is presenting challenges to marketers."
Pico Global Services Ltd., Hong Kong
WATCH OUT FOR …
"In developing event programs, we’re seeing an uptick in brands leveraging strategic partnerships with other non-conflicting brands that target a similar demographic share a common end goal."
XA: Experiential Agency, Chicago
"Dynamic and innovative step-and-repeats. We’ve seen many inspired red carpets this year, which leave static step-and-repeats in the dust. A personal favorite was a 20-foot-long video installation, designed to move and respond to those walking the red carpet."
Precision Event Group, Beverly Hills, Calif.
"Metrics, proving results and efficiency, are now the key measures--more so than 'PR' value or designing to win an award."
AMCI, Marina del Rey, Calif.
LIVE EVENTS WILL THRIVE
"In times of rapidly advancing digitalization, personal dialogue and the direct experiencing of products and brands are becoming increasingly more relevant. It's an undisputed fact that live communication is the only marketing instrument that creates multi-sensual brand experiences and personal interaction whose intensity and sustainability are second to none, which is why live communication will become increasingly important as a component of marketing communication."
Hagen Invent, Dusseldorf, Germany
GET YOUR COPY OF THE '50 TOP' LIST
To order a copy of the 2012 "50 Top Event Companies" list for $10, click here.
Look for the entire list in the September-October issue of Special Events. The magazine is free to ISES members; subscriptions can also be ordered here.