From sound effects to targeted audio, learn how to amplify participant experiences
Sounds provoke powerful emotions. The sound effects in a movie make us lean forward with anticipation or jump in surprise. A song on the radio has the power to transport us to another time and place instantly. Conversely, when you can’t hear what’s going on, you tune out. And when sound quality is degraded, it negatively affects people’s ability to communicate, learn and focus. That’s why sonic engagement is a powerful tool in any meeting or event professional’s arsenal.
According to the National Institutes of Health, when people hear sound, it ‘lights’ up brain areas involved in emotion, memory and even physical movement. That’s why intentionally chosen music, video stingers and well-produced high-quality audio amplifies the emotional impact of a conference program and makes it more memorable. Let’s examine how integrating sound and engaging participants’ hearing can enrich onsite events.
Traditional sonic tools and technologies
One in eight people in the United States over the age of 12 has hearing loss in both ears. Nearly ten percent of adults between the ages of 55 and 64 have disabling hearing loss. That’s why it’s important not to cut corners on how you employ traditional event audio tools. It’s important that the correct type of amplification is used throughout your event spaces to deliver high-quality audio.
Traditional sonic tools and technologies include:
- Audio mixers
- Closed captioning
- Simultaneous translation
To aid comprehension, consider close-captioning event audio for the in-person audience. This not only helps the hearing disabled, but also for non-native English speakers. Simultaneous translation, whether AI-generated or using a live translator, is a must for international meetings.
Setting the mood with music
Music sets audience expectations and influences their mood. For example, playing ambient jazz can help participants relax before you discuss difficult topics. If you’ve had people sitting in meetings all day, dance music can boost their mood and get them excited for evening activities.
For any public event, music played needs to be properly licensed. Your pro subscription to a streaming service won’t protect you or your organization from liability if you’re caught playing a personal playlist.
One solution is Encore Music. It offers more than 300 curated and properly licensed music playlists for commercial background music use. It also offers a royalty-free music solution with more than 100,000 tracks, sound effects and loops for virtual/hybrid events and stingers that you can edit and use for videos, motion graphics and walk-in/walk-out music.
Combining sound with other senses to create more inclusive events
Some audio technologies engage the sense of touch as well as hearing. One such tech tool is a throwable microphone, called a Catchbox. It’s a fun way to keep your audience engaged. Audience members can toss the Catchbox to each other instead of waiting for mic runners to reach them. Because people don’t have to move from their seat to be heard, it also makes it easier for people with physical disabilities or more introverted dispositions to join in the conversation.
Examples of using sound to create
When you’re creating an immersive experience, pay attention to the sound design. Sound effects and cues provide subtle information about our environments and can reinforce the illusion you’re creating. For example, the sound of waves and seagulls transport us to the beach; crickets remind us of relaxing summer evenings.
Flying speakers from rigging gives you better sonic coverage of large spaces than floor-based speakers do. But did you know it also gives you the ability to create directional audio? When sounds ‘move’ from one speaker to another in sequence, it immerses the audience in a sonic bath that moves from one side of the room to the other. This can emphasize motion graphics, key presentation points and complete the feeling of being in a dynamic environment.
Targeted audio can create sonic zones. Museums often use this to educate people as they look at a specific item. Targeted audio can only be heard within a tight radius. Once you move outside that cone of sound, the audio disappears. It’s a fantastic solution for trade shows when you don’t want sound to bleed over from one booth to another.
Next-generation event audio engagement
Wireless technology allows you to create ‘silent conferences,’ where speakers can only be heard by audience members wearing headphones. Presenter mics transmit sound wirelessly only to the headphones in that vicinity. This allows for several activations or presentations to happen in a shared space. When participants want to move on, they can change the frequency on their receiver or remove their headphones.
Audio also can be used to create synchronized individual experiences. A fun example of this is Improv Everywhere’s MP3 Experiments. Participants download an MP3 and are asked to bring a short list of items to a specific location. At the designated start time, individuals play the MP3, which leads them through a series of prompts and activities. The result is a playful group experience that each individual feels they helped create.
The benefits of partnering with experienced
High quality sound is a basic building block of any event. People need to hear what’s going on, otherwise they’ll disengage with the content. High quality sounds help people pay attention, connect and enjoy themselves. It’s an essential tool for crafting memorable events.
An experienced audio partner will ensure all your presenters and participants can be heard. They also can recommend fun and unexpected ways to engage audiences sonically, such as through directional sound or attention-grabbing music cues. Best of all, if your audio partner is on the same team as your event technology provider, you can breathe easy, knowing all the elements of your event will be seamlessly integrated with your vision and goals. That makes designing multisensory experiences more seamless and successful.
Want to learn more about leveraging audio solutions to design immersive, unforgettable events? Download our guide Symphony of Sound: Orchestrating Emotional Connections.
Produce a memorable experience for your meeting participants
In today’s ever-changing landscape, the way people consume content has undergone a rapid transformation. What does this mean for meeting and event professionals? You’ve likely faced unique challenges in capturing (and keeping) your audience’s attention to deliver a memorable experience. Let’s consider some key trends that contribute to these hurdles.
- Shortened attention spans:
With the proliferation of smartphones, the average adult’s attention span has significantly decreased. Encouraging participants to disconnect from their devices has become more challenging than ever.
- Greater production value behind content:
When it comes to the crowd-pleasing content people routinely engage with, even singular episodes of crowd-pleasing series have soaring production value. Episodes of The Crown cost an average of about $13 million, and high-end streaming dramas like Stranger Things now see price tags of $4 to $7 million per episode.
- More targeted, digestible content:
Thanks to platforms like TikTok, which deliver fast-paced, hyper-targeted content to 1.67 billion users, many of your attendees expect no less than pithy, entertaining messaging, picked specifically for them. Your tech-savvy participants are used to being able to find, filter and immediately interact with the type of content they already like, thanks to the platform’s scarily effective algorithm. If you want to earn (and keep) attendees’ attention in today’s digital landscape, your content needs to meet their higher expectations.
Considering the impact of these trends, it has become more difficult to entertain and engage an audience — while easier than ever to distract them. So, how can you ensure your content is compelling and has a lasting influence? Read on for insights that can help you revolutionize your storytelling.
Engagement is a metric that matters
A recent Encore survey revealed that planners prioritize attendee engagement and advanced content delivery. To revamp your content strategy and recapture the hearts and minds of your audience, here are three powerful approaches to consider:
- Cultivate community through content
Remember the viral Ice Bucket Challenge, which united people around a common cause? It brought ALS, and the ALS Association’s mission, to the forefront of Americans’ minds (and phones).
The content developed around the social media challenge was not only attention-grabbing but also prompted immediately achievable action.
Taking part was cheap, easy (except withstanding the ice water part), enthralling and, most importantly, repeatable. Meanwhile, the call to action rallied individuals into a community for a shared goal.
Photo credit: ALS Therapy Development Institute
2. Craft Your storytelling as a unifying thread
Your content should seamlessly weave a compelling narrative throughout the entire attendee journey, from initial contact to post-event communications. However, avoid generating content that merely starts and ends there.
While the content onstage might be the main focus during your sessions, to deliver truly resonant messaging, consider how your programming ties into the tentacles of broader, ongoing conversations within your audience’s communities. By designing content that’s relevant to your participants and what’s going on in the world around you, you can leverage your meeting as a chapter in a much larger and powerful discourse.
3. Appeal to your guests’ emotions for lasting impact
Some of the most memorable event moments are emotionally charged rather than purely intellectual. Consider award shows in pop culture, where speeches, interactions and reactions generate buzz for days, weeks and even years.
Ultimately, you want your program to live on with a life of its own, and fueling similarly strong emotive responses is a great way to drive connections with your content. Is yours designed with that intent? Is it working hard enough to become unforgettable for your attendees? If the answer is no or you’re unsure, think through how you can better speak to and influence attendees’ emotions through your storytelling.
We’d love to help you do just that! Our Creative Services team dreams big when it comes to crafting inspiring content, amplifying it through strategic event branding and design, and influencing the purposeful connections that set programs apart.
Want a sneak peek into our capabilities? Explore some of the riveting content we created for Marriott International’s exclusive three-day conference for their general managers that created a customized experience just for them!
Let’s partner on incorporating these content strategies into your planning process for a program that captivates participants and extends the reach of your message well into the future.
How to leverage color psychology to
Unlock the Unforgettable
Colors play a vital role in helping us navigate the world around us. Certain hues can influence how we feel, behave and even respond in various settings, giving them an intriguing role in human psychology and fueling our long-held fascination with them.
This year, Pantone, the industry leader in color forecasting, declared the vibrant Viva Magenta as the Color of 2023. Described by the institute as “bold” and “unapologetic,” this shade was chosen to evoke a sense of confidence and optimism in the post-pandemic world.
*Photo caption: Courtesy of ARTECHOUSE
Each year’s color is carefully selected based on current trends, social and political events and global attitudes. Once announced, it becomes a symbol of the times, evoking emotions and memories specific to that moment.
In our industry, for example, we’re seeing the sense of optimism that Viva Magenta is meant to signify with the surge of in-person events — which are expected to continue increasing. This hopeful sentiment is reflected by audiences who have shown their desire for the return of face-to-face interactions.
In a number of other business sectors, ranging from fashion to marketing, the color of the year is used to forecast trends in branding and design, product development and purchasing decisions. It’s become so influential that the 2024 color of the year has already been selected (Apricot Crush), and there are predictions for which hue will hold the glory in 2025 (Future Dusk)! But what grants a singular shade such power?
Read on to explore the impact of color psychology and how to leverage it to promote certain mindsets, further engagement and participant learning, and deliver an inspiring attendee experience at your next meeting or event.
Color psychology: Why certain hues affect
Colors are not just a matter of aesthetics; they can have a profound impact on our mental state. Research in this area has confirmed what we have long suspected: that colors can influence our internal physiology and create unconscious reactions.
Consider the neurological effects of warm versus cool tones. Bright and warm colors, like red, orange and yellow, stimulate our senses and can evoke feelings of happiness, optimism and energy. Contrastingly, cool and calm tones like blues and greens are typically internalized as soothing.
This fascinating field of research shows us that, not only does the presence of color affect our cognition and mood, certain hues affect how we internalize information and interact.
How color enhances participant learning and the event experience
Humans are more sensitive to the impact of color than you may expect, something that grants you a unique capability to strategically influence audiences. How? By leveraging this aspect of your meeting or event design, you can boost engagement and participant learning to strengthen the power of your programming.
“There has been a lot of research dedicated towards neuroscience recently and one really neat finding as it relates to our business is that when the right colors are added to a meeting, attendees are more engaged, message retention increases and the overall atmosphere is improved.
“What this means in layman’s terms is that by using certain colors within the meeting space, we can adjust an audience’s mood to best match the content being presented,” explains Drozd.
Combine these findings with research that demonstrates 80-85 percent of our perception, learning and cognition is mediated through vision, and it’s clear to see how being purposeful about color use can work in your favor.
Amplify your impact with vibrant
Having the optimal technology solutions and expertise on your side can ensure you’re showcasing the right colors, and at the right moments, to shape the participant journey and reach new levels of success in achieving your meeting objectives.
Here are a few of our top recommendations:
LED technology and scenic elements
LED technology is a perfect way to incorporate greater use of color at indoor or outdoor gatherings. This solution enables you to cast screens or even full walls in color, delivering striking visual content in high resolution, regardless of surface or image size.
If you’re planning a gala where you want to promote interaction, for example, you could incorporate sweeping use of yellow visual content with LED walls. The attention-grabbing technology and brilliant hue would serve to encourage these connections and even boost participants’ moods.
Focused on long-range planning during a critical small meeting? Add a dynamic aspect to your space with LED table lamps set to cast purple tones. This hue can support goal setting to support your desired outcomes.
No matter your program’s aims, LED technology provides you with a rich palette to play with. Using this lighting in place of a traditional incandescent fixture allows for endless color mixing, including saturation and intensity. Change the ambiance of your event space at any time — color mixing is executed seamlessly.
Another way to dazzle audiences with chromaticity? Reinforce the effects of your intentionally chosen tones through the use of scenic elements, such as spandex soft sets or backdrops, like BackDrop Pro. These can serve as palettes for your lighting fixtures and amplify their presence in your space.
Whether you’re planning a large-scale event or small meeting, our experts can help you choose the right color-creating tech to captivate and impress audiences. Plus, by partnering with a full-service provider like Encore, you’ll have an industry-leading team on your side to provide guidance on enhancing your meeting or event design, creating stunning content, and managing technology before, during and after the production.
Want to discuss your personalized meeting or event needs? We’d love to provide a free consultation on how we can help deliver a memorable experience that leaves audiences amazed.
Interested in learning more about one of our popular colorful technology solutions? Click the button below to explore our experts’ guidance on how to reimagine the possibilities of creating transformative events with vivid LED technology!
What’s in store for the events industry
Meeting and event professionals are heading into the summer months feeling positive about the strength of the industry. According to the Encore latest Planner Pulse report, 74 percent are actively planning, sourcing or rescheduling events — a five percent increase over the Fall 2022 Planner Pulse report.
Budgets also appear to be holding firm. Only nine percent of respondents expect their budgets to decrease this year. Seventy-seven percent say that budgets will increase or remain flat. Meeting and event professionals also shared information about budget items they consider ‘nice to haves’ rather than ‘must haves.’
Another key finding shed light on attitudes about event professional continuing education. According to the Encore Planner Pulse report, 56 percent of event professionals attend educational sessions, with 25 percent attending educational sessions regularly. Individuals with more than 20 years of industry experience were more likely to value education and attend sessions often or very often than those with less experience.
Want a snapshot of these results? Download an infographic of the Encore Spring 2023 Planner Pulse report.
Over 70 percent of meeting and event organizers believe networking and engagement will be the future of events. The challenge is how to do that. LED walls are one of the most flexible technology solutions you can use to breathe new life into your programming. From creating immersive environments to transforming presentations into interactive activities, LED walls can enhance indoor or outdoor meetings and events in myriad ways.
Let’s examine some use cases and applications where LED walls can support event goals to facilitate networking and improve engagement.
How do LED walls create more engaging and immersive environments?
“The No. 1 reason why we attend meetings is to interact with people,” says Encore Product Manager Damein Futch.
“Instead of you telling me the Top 10 things I should remember, I learn because you’re using the billboard principle in the dining room.”
LED walls also allow you to change the environment without changing the space. “There’s an unlimited palette of opportunities,” Futch explains. For example, there might be a beach scene during the morning session, which turns into a sunset over a mountaintop for the general session.
“You can even put a transparent LED over a window in a breakout room.” This makes it possible to transport participants to different places, planets and emotional spaces without moving them from their chairs.
“Any time you want an interactive display behind something you want to sell or promote, you can use an LED wall,” Futch says. “You don’t have to worry about people walking through the cone of projection.” LED panels can be built to look like a product that you can transform into anything you want with striking visuals.
You may have seen LED walls used to show what people are experiencing while wearing virtual reality (VR) headsets or as a background layer for augmented reality (AR) activations. But have you heard about extended reality (XR)?
“Extended reality is a camera working with a media server and LED wall to create realistic background movement to give viewers the sense of being in another location,” Futch explains. It’s a technique used for TV/film productions to create immersive 360-degree sets. But the same technology can be used for events.
Futch says a professional meeting or event organizer’s use of LED walls is only limited only by their creativity, budget and opportunity. “The ROI of LED is exponentially greater than you see with other mediums. It costs more because it accomplishes more, and you can do more with it.“
A technology solution for all meeting types and formats
“Any time you have a screen or a wall, you can use LED,” Futch adds. “LED walls can be used in general sessions, breakout rooms, digital signage, creative elements, scenic and anywhere else, really.”
What does this look like in practice? The resolution and clarity provided by LED walls make them a good fit for medical meetings or any other gatherings where it’s essential to view high-contrast images. In general sessions, they can be used in place of traditional projections as scenic elements, or they may comprise the entire set. “LED walls don’t have to be rectangular or square,” Futch shares. “You can build and stagger them into any configuration you need.”
Another benefit? You’re not restricted to aspect ratios with LED walls the way you are with traditional projectors. You don’t have to worry about blending because you’re using one surface, whether it’s a window, wall, curved screen or even the side of a building. It can be as large or small as you need without compromising the resolution quality.
LED walls can also be used as creative accents. For example, if you wanted to use a projector for a presentation, you could wrap the presentation with LED walls to drive home the message.
No matter how they’re used, people’s eyes and attention naturally drift to LED walls because they’re so vivid and bright, which makes them an incredible tool for engagement. “You could even put one behind a registration desk,” Futch says. “And people will be drawn in.”
The benefits of using LED walls vs projectors
LED walls possess several technological advantages to projection equipment traditionally used, whether you’re creating scenic elements, relaying information or transforming spaces with projection mapping. These advantages enhance the participant experience and elevate the overall event.
Brightness is an additional advantage. “A projection always competes with stage lights or daylight,” Futch says. You never have to draw the curtains in a room with an LED wall. Examples of this can be seen within exhibit halls or outdoor venues.
Projectors are either rear-projecting or front-projecting. In both cases, a considerable amount of space is required to fit the ‘cone of projection.’ This isn’t the case with LED walls.
“You gain back seating and capacity for your attendees,” Futch informs. “You don’t have to worry about projection distance because everything is displayed on a flat surface.”
When light is projected, it bounces off a screen before it enters the participants’ eyes, making it a passive medium. In contrast, LED walls are an active medium. What they display is directly absorbed by the viewer. As Futch adds, “It is like your TV on steroids.”
It also offers increased opportunities for creative expression. “LED walls are visual LEGOs,” Futch explains. “With projectors, light [is] beamed at a source. With LED walls, the possibilities are endless when it comes to resolution and area covered.”
Think about the events you have coming up. How would you like to use LED walls to surprise and delight, educate and engage, or entertain your participants? We’d love to provide a free consultation on how this technology solution can help you achieve your meeting or event goals.
Interested in learning more? Click the button below to explore our experts’ guidance on dazzling audiences with LED technology.
Encore values the power of inclusion. That’s why we’re proud to create spaces of belonging and work to proactively diversify our team. In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re excited to share a new way we’re putting our commitment to equity into practice with our Women in Audio Visual Technology (WAVE) program. We’re also delighted to also shine a spotlight on some of the trailblazing women of Encore and reflections from our leadership on why Women’s History Month matters to our organization.
Generating career opportunities for women at Encore
The WAVE initiative is part of our ongoing efforts to create career opportunities for women in the event production industry. The program features a pre-hire training certification, called Introduction to Event Technology, which is carefully designed to provide an overview of processes and best practices in the technology field. Anyone can take the course. The initiative also offers continuing education, a mentorship program and career mapping — all focusing on elevating women and identifying clear career paths to leadership and management positions.
Fostering community for women and allies
Knowing the role community support and knowledge-sharing can play in career and life empowerment. Encore offers seven business resource groups that enable members to develop deeper connections with colleagues. The Women of Encore business resource group serves as an inclusive community for women and their allies, providing an opportunity for conversation, mentorship, development and advocacy.
Honoring Encore award-winners and nominees
Diversity in our leadership helps push our industry forward in new ways. In fact, two of our award-winning teammates Donna Hubley, Encore Vice President of Field Sales, and Alyssa Freire, Encore Project Manager of Production, were recently honored in the 2023 Smart Women in Meetings Awards program for doing just that.
Because Encore had so many women nominated for the 2023 Smart Women in Meetings Awards, Smart Meetings also released a companion article, ‘Think Event Technology Is Still a Man’s World? Think Again,’ which features 15 additional women of Encore working in technology, sales, operations, production, human resources and management. Check out the article for an introduction to these pioneers, learn their approaches to life, advice for readers, and goals they’re working toward.
Reflections on Women’s History Month from
While we take a moment to celebrate the incredible women who propel our organization, industry and communities forward, our leadership is reflecting on what this month means to Encore. Here’s what they had to share:
Becky Sheehan, Chief Financial Officer
“I am thrilled to recognize and celebrate International Women’s History Month and continue to be both proud of and inspired by the women of the past and present. One particular highlight for us today is my observation that the goals of Encore are closely aligned to those of the UN Women organization as it pertains to gender equality.
The UN Women’s International Women’s Day theme — “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality” — aligns well with the efforts Encore is making to encourage more women to enter the event production industry. For example, WAVE, or Women in Audio Visual Events, is an Encore program that focuses on generating career opportunities for women in our industry. More specifically, it’s a community where we can provide women with educational, training, and mentorship resources to be successful and ultimately become the next generation of leaders at Encore. This relates closely to another goal we have established to double representation of women in leadership positions at Encore.”
Toni Williams, Sr. Manager, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
“At Encore, we recognize that diversity is critically important, equity is a choice, inclusion is an action and belonging is the outcome we desire. Creating equitable spaces and opportunities for women isn’t just a matter of ethics or corporate responsibility. We have seen tangible results time and time again on how more diverse companies lure better talent and improve their decision making, customer orientation and employee satisfaction. All areas of diversity are important to our inclusive culture, and gender, racial and ethnic diversity are certainly competitive differentiators for companies in the same industry and country. As we honor Women’s History Month, we would be remiss not to acknowledge the broader impacts that creating equity for women, and other underrepresented and marginalized groups, has on the way we live and work.”
Ben Erwin, President and CEO
“We know our ability to best solve challenges comes from our team’s individual experiences — a capacity that grows with the diversity of the talent around the table. When women are invited to these conversations, we win. When women are given opportunities to sharpen their skillsets, we win. When women are empowered as leaders, we win. Our customers win. Our industry wins.
Women’s History Month reminds us of the role inclusion can play in progress . . . for women, people of color, or anyone marginalized or underrepresented. We know our team members are the key differentiator in the marketplace. This belief powers a culture of diversity, inclusion and motivates investments to grow opportunity with programs like WAVE and our Women of Encore business resource group, to promote brighter futures for women.”
In the events world, sometimes we’re caught by an ask so big, it feels unimaginable. Just ask Encore Regional Director Chris Baker, who oversees the Alberta Branches in Canada.
It all began with an unexpected RFP from the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops (CCB). They queried Encore Canada for a proposal related to a visit by Pope Francis. The ask: create five papal events in five unique and complex locations. All five events would happen within a three-day time frame. The CCB projected that the events would attract more than 200,000 people during that time.
By the time CCB awarded Encore the project, there were 45 days before the first event. Then by the time the contract was signed, the Encore team had only 30 days to officially design, produce and execute the events. Here’s Chris’s unbelievable story. Read on or click here to watch the video.
The ultimate challenge
Papal tours rarely occur, so expectations for this tour were high. Because this tour intended to deliver an important message, Pope Francis intentionally wanted to visit out-of-the-way locations where people might not have had the occasion to attend a papal event. Baker’s team was tasked with the event strategy and design, building and managing all production and event technology components for distinctly different and complex locations and events. Most of the events were concentrated around the Canadian city of Edmonton. Some of the facilities selected were not event venues, and few were built to handle the number of participants expected—meaning limited to no infrastructure. The final event location was so remote that no roads existed. On top of all the logistical, strategic, creative and production challenges, Baker’s team needed to figure out how to transport heavy equipment into 10 perfectly packed and weighted pallets for an eight-hour flight with a total of 12- to 16 hours for the crew.
Besides, none of the events in the five locations being remotely the same, on some days, there was more than one event taking place. For example, on Day One, Baker’s team needed to produce a morning event for 23,000 attendees in Maskwacis and a 1,250-person event at the Sacred Heart Church in Edmonton, 60 miles away, on the same day. On Day Two, Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium would welcome 75,000 attendees in the morning. That afternoon, there would be an event for 100,000 people at Lac Ste. Anne in Stony Plain. In the tiny, remote indigenous village of Iqaluit, Nunavit, the final event of the three-day papal visit was expected to attract 5,000 people.
This is where decades of experience producing world-class events and a global team well-versed in developing and executing end-to-end event solutions help Encore to deliver on the requests. Baker, and North American location-specific teams, began with the total papal visit and journey with the end goals and location in mind. They collectively set out to meet this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with thoughtful understanding and enthusiasm.
Juggling the logistical demands, short booking window and staffing requirements to make all five events happen required teamwork and careful coordination between over 270 Encore team members from across Canada and the U.S. Additionally, Baker’s team had to work with and satisfy the needs of a different set of clients and stakeholders in each location from the CCB to local tribal leaders.
Baker and team decided that the best way to manage the demands of the consecutive events on Day One and Day Two was to use separate crews for each event location. Thankfully, Encore has access to a vast network of hundreds of experienced and skilled people. Crews were bussed in daily to provide dedicated support for various papal events.
Three of the five sites required infrastructure work to accommodate the expected crowds. Because of the high-profile nature of the event, it was necessary to construct media facilities and green rooms at most sites. Three sites required the creation of overflow spaces for up to 10,000 people. Baker’s team even constructed roads and supplied the power so gear and people could reach some of the unique, non-traditional event locations requested.
Most of the events required Baker’s team to set up large LED walls with delayed audio, staging, lighting and audio coverage. In addition to the state-of-the-art staging and different event technologies, Baker and teams also managed broadcast and live stream feeds and related internet network needs.
All five stakeholder groups were pleased with the outcome of Encore’s work, which enabled the Pope to present his important message to more than 200,000 people. This was because Baker and his North America Encore teams saw solutions instead of challenges.
Every year, Encore surveys thousands of meeting and event professionals about meeting/event patterns and formats, how they spend their money and their biggest concerns. Individually, these quarterly Planner Pulse reports form snapshots of current industry trends. But taken collectively, we can begin to forecast where the industry is headed. Looking at the big picture painted by results from our four 2022 surveys, here are the Top 3 event trends for 2023.
Trend No. 1: Immersive and interactive experiences to engage participants and enhance organizational culture
According to McKinsey’s American Opportunity Survey, 58 percent of the employed respondents in the U.S. have the option of working from home for all or part of the week. With a dispersed workforce, in-person engagement is more important than ever for creating and reinforcing an organization’s culture, training employees and fostering a sense of belonging. Companies aren’t the only ones seeing the need for in-person meetings. Encore Planner Pulse respondents report that, compared to 2019, participants value the in-person experience more and are more engaged with and ‘leaning into’ the entire face-to-face experience (Winter 2022 Pulse).
Planners know participants derive the greatest value from networking/relationship building, education/training and organizational culture-building/enhancing activities (Winter 2022 Pulse). Meeting and event professionals are creating more immersive and interactive experiences to maximize the event return-on experience.
How are meeting and event professionals doing this? Designing events with the end in mind, investing in engaging technology, and collaborating with presenters to rethink how content is delivered.
Reverse-engineering the event design leads organizers to rethink how rooms are set to maximize connection and collaboration, bake more opportunities for networking into the agenda and think about how they can create sensory experiences. Technology, like LED walls and 3D projection mapping, is the easiest way to transform rooms and sets quickly. Event technology platforms that enable live polling and Q&A, can be used to educate and entertain. Challenging presenters to respond to questions about how they intend to engage the audience in the call for proposals is a fantastic starting point for conversations about designing and delivering the most meaningful and relevant content for event participants.
Trend No. 2: More attendees for in-person meetings
In-person events continue to gain momentum. Meeting and event professionals expect in-person attendance to increase by as much as 25 percent in 2023. This is a reversal of a downsizing trend seen last spring (Spring 2022 and Winter 2022 Pulse).
The most popular venues remain hotels (Spring 2022 and Fall 2022 Pulse). Sixty-one percent of planners expect to pay slightly to significantly more on hotel room rates (Fall 2022 Pulse). Sixty-two percent expect to pay more for food and beverage, and 57 percent report they will pay more for transportation (Winter 2022, Summer 2022 and Fall 2022 Pulse). Not coincidentally, these also are the Top 3 areas Planners Pulse respondents expect to see their 2023 budgets increase. Of the planners who say their 2023 budgets are increasing, 80 percent expect an increase of more than 25 percent (Winter 2022 Pulse).
According to Summer 2022 and Fall 2022 Pulse reports, the top technology products and services being sourced this year are standard projection/audiovisual equipment (50+ percent) and streaming technology (44 percent). Top attributes driving the selection of event technology partners are value, technical expertise and service excellence (Summer 2022 Pulse).
Trend No. 3: Inclusive and supportive environments to enhance participant wellness and sense of belonging
Health and safety had the greatest impact on participant comfort levels (Spring 2022 Pulse). For that reason, hybrid meetings comprised up to 30 percent of the meetings held in the first half of last year. (Winter 2022 and Spring 2022 Pulse). Now that people are more comfortable traveling, the number of hybrid meetings represents fewer than 20 percent of the meetings planned for 2023 (Summer 2022 and Fall 2022 Pulse).
It’s not just participants’ physical wellness that’s a focus for planners. They also want to support mental and emotional wellness by fostering a sense of attendee belonging, enhanced by face-to-face meeting. One of the ways planners are incorporating this trend into event design include education and conversational groups modeled on the ‘business resource groups’ present at most major organizations, where participants gather with like-minded community members. They’re also using technology, like AI-powered simultaneous translation and captioning tools, to ensure people with neurodiversity or disabilities have an easier time connecting to the content and enjoying it. And for those who don’t want to travel, hybrid event technology allows everyone to participate in the event, no matter where they’re located.
Technology can also help people connect to each other on a more human level by capturing images and stories and sharing them with participants before, during or after the event. Consider setting up on-site interviews or photography booths to capture this user-generated content. Remember: everyone wants to feel special and included. If you can deliver experiences that deliver both to your participants, they’ll want to come back next year.
Those are the Top 3 trends we’re seeing. How are you planning to make your meetings more engaging, supportive of ESG or inclusive? We’d love to hear about your 2023 events and the challenges and solutions you discover as you move through the year. Click here to download the Winter 2022 Planners Pulse Report and opt-in to future communications to have your opinion included.
Discover what’s in store for the
- 80% of events taking place in the next 12 months will have an in-person audience
- 6 of 10 event planners expect their budgets to increase in 2023
- Meeting space layout and technology are the top 2 drivers of venue selection beyond table stakes criteria of available dates, space, and budget
- 80% of events taking place in the next 12 months will have an in-person audience