Interactive e-registration badges, remote simultaneous language translation (RSI) headsets and company branded phone-charging stations were just a few of the innovative products on display at this year’s ‘What’s Trending in Events’ held on Thursday, December 12th.

Hosted for the second year at Dynamic Earth, more than a hundred events professionals gathered to hear what was new in the events industry.

Prospective buyers from all over Scotland came from a diverse range of companies and institutions ranging from the NHS, Natural Trust of Scotland, John Lewis, Shepperd & Wedderburn to several Scottish universities to meet event suppliers from all over the UK. 

There was plenty of inspiration for them to take away from how to make their next event more unique from themed yurts, gin experiment workshops, tea master classes and tea leaf readings to creating company-branded merchandise, signage and LED screens.

After a welcome coffee in the attraction’s rainforest experience, the delegates listened to three enlightening and informed talks by leading event specialists, Alistair Turner, Kim Myhre and Robert Dunsmore. 

There were several continual themes that ran through the keynote presentations which included the importance of making your event memorable not only visually but also on a multi-sensory level, knowing your audience needs, being aware of the demands and expectation of the new tech-savvy younger generation and using new technology in an interactive, immersive and exciting way. 

Alistair Turner, Managing Director, Eight PR & Marketing, told the audience that we need to look at events not from the perspective that the, ‘world was changing but what the shift in human needs are’. And he pointed out that there has been a significant shift from the experience economy to the virtual experience economy in terms of events. He added that as we live in an, ‘on-demand world with 24/7 access to online information that we need to make events more ‘ innovative and dramatic to stimulate the audience’.

He pointed out that the average age of the global population is 35 and this new younger generation are much more likely to value visual experiences and don’t want to be, ‘grouped together but treated as individuals’ and this has given rise to self- curated events where they can choose their own experience. He added that the ubiquitous trends of, ‘sustainability, wellness and self improvement’ are also embedded in society and need to be factored in when planning events. 

Next up was Kim Myhre, Managing Director of MCI Experience, a veteran events guru who spoke of the, ‘lines between visual and virtual reality becoming increasingly blurred’ and that we needed to look at events with a ‘fresh approach’ and offer experiential ways to engage with the audience and one that didn’t involve being, ‘trapped in a basement room and listening to a CEO present for way too long!’.   

He also emphasised the need to address the expectations of the growing younger audience who live their lives online and that how we use technology to connect with these people. He said that events need to be ‘meaningful’,  immersive’ and ‘fulfilling’ and that the audience should be involved on a ‘participatory not a passive basis’ offering them, ‘an engaging and content rich experience’. He concluded by saying that event planners need nowadays, ‘ to be event designers and to think outside the box.’ 

Robert Dunsmore, Independent Creative Director at Live Events, emphasised the need to offer a multi-sensory experience not just a visual one. He said that events should be, ‘touchy feely, tasty, smelly and noisy’. He stressed the importance of making lasting memories and feelings towards the event whether it is by designing an exclusive scent for the event, a themed food with a memorable smell or creating a tailor-made sound track. He also talked at length about the exciting new technologies available to make events memorable such as using Holographic Augmented Reality (AR) that can immerse the audience into the virtual environment to interact using digital elements adding to the real experience. And it also cited using Virtual Reality (VR) handsets as an adaptable and more affordable way to customise and curate content for a specific audience.

After the speeches, the delegates were divided up into groups and attended a series of speed-dating learning sessions where 12 leading event suppliers showcased their products in four zones: Event Technology, Communications, Theming and Well Being. 

Shaking up the world of registration badges, Bill Munday, from Blendology explained how the e-registration networking tag, that he had provided for delegates during the the event are,  ‘perfect ice breakers’ and an ‘cool networking tool’.  For he explained when you tap your tag against another it lights up and buzzes and by tapping you exchange your personal contacts which you can download later and you can also use them to follow the event’s timetable. 

Another supplier, Graeme Craig from Catalyst Events Productions, told how his company offers an, ‘innovative solution to the design, production and delivery of an event from the beginning to the end’.  He said that the more unique things they’ve been asked to do is to make, ‘people fly at an event’ as well as ‘projecting different country’s flags on the façade of Gleneagles hotel’.  He also described how the company was able create bespoke installations and 3-D visuals and LED screens from their team of designers as well as build sets and auditoriums in their own workshop. 

Judith Wilson, EventIt Director, concluded the proceedings by thanking all the keynote speakers for their fascinating insight into the future of the events industry with a ‘traditional round of applause’ as well as thanking all the key event sponsors – including AVD, Blendology, Evolve, Catalyst Productions, Bellfield Brewery and Eteaket – and finished by reminding everyone to register for next year’s EventIt conference being held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) on Thursday, March 19th.