Nearly two million events take place in the United States every year. And post-pandemic, the majority of people on both the planning and supply side of our industry are new. That means it’s more important than ever for us to share knowledge and best practices with each other.

At Encore, we’re lucky. We get to work at and attend some of the industry’s most buzzworthy events, so we can be your eyes and ears for all the juicy insights your peers took away from each experience. Here’s our roundup of three you might have missed along with key takeaways to help power your planning.

Event No. 1: PCMA Convening Leaders 2024

Convening Leaders attracts business event professionals from around the world and is known for its marquee-name keynote speakers. This year’s show in San Diego was no exception, where a fireside chat with President Clinton and Secretary of State Clinton was a highlight.

What you missed:

  • In partnership with the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the Strategic Alliance of National Convention Bureaux in Europe (SANCBE), PCMA announced it will co-locate the industry’s first sustainability and climate summit in Barcelona with Convening EMEA Oct. 2-3, 2024.
  • The PCMA Foundation and BESydney released research addressing gender disparity in leadership: Advancing Women in Business Events. Their key finding? Despite women comprising 70 percent of the global business event workforce, they fill only 20 percent of the senior-level roles. Considering this overwhelming disproportion, the report says it’s necessary for the business events industry to make efforts to advance women into board roles and C-suite positions.
  • A fireside-style keynote with President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton explored how loneliness has been weaponized for political gain. Additionally, they encouraged the audience to engage in empowerment politics rather than “victim politics.”

Must-know insights: Thinking bigger with event budgets

Industry experts came together during the event for a candid discussion on budget trends and smart ways to make an impact with your dollars.

Host Courtney Stanley, Global Keynote Speaker, led the roundtable talk. The discussion featured Harold Batiste, Senior Vice President, Sales Operations at HPN Global; Heather Nash, CMP, CAE, Chicago Dental Society; and Taylor Nicole Abbate, Director of National Sales, CSI DMC.

Here’s what they shared on The Breakdown LIVE at PCMA CL: Thinking Bigger with Your Event Budget.

  • According to the recent Encore Planner Pulse Report, nearly half of meeting professionals are increasing budgets in 2024 and more than a third say their budgets are flat.
  • When thinking bigger about your event budget, invest in areas that will have the biggest positive impact on the meeting experience. These include anything experiential, like food, networking, education and technology, says Harold Batiste of HPN Global and Heather Nash of the American Dental Society.
  • A final takeaway from the roundtable? Leverage AI to help you ideate creative ways to stretch your planning dollars, suggests Taylor Abbate of CSI DMC. Don’t forget to ask venues what they’re providing in the cost and ask how you can work together to create unique experiences.

Click the play button to watch the full discussion. You must be logged into LinkedIn to view the video.

Event No. 2: IMEX America 2023

The industry’s most important trade show takes over Las Vegas every October. With education provided by leading associations and a massive exhibit hall filled with global destination marketing and tourism organizations and supplier partners, IMEX is a one-stop shop for meeting destinations and event ideas.

This year’s theme? “Human Nature,” a focus that gave attendees the opportunity to engage in educational sessions and discussions on human nature as it relates to the events industry.

What you missed:

  • A record-breaking 15,000 participants, including more than 5,000 buyers, attended. More than 70,000 1-on-1 meetings happened over the course of the show.
  • Nearly 1,000 people experienced the immersive Break Free activation, which helped encourage empathy through immersive event design. The goal? To connect with participants about the importance of fostering belonging and inclusion, using multisensory storytelling.
  • More than half of planners (59 percent) say attendee engagement is a struggle, while 70 percent agree that technology is crucial to cultivating engagement.

Must-know insights: Designing events for belonging

Delving into the year’s theme, Encore favorite Courtney Stanley gathered experts from across the industry for a live discussion from the show floor on best practices for designing events where attendees feel they belong.

DeShawn Wynn, CMP-HC, Winning Touch Event Design; Megan Janel Zimmer, CED, Encore; and Trevor Lui, Co-founder, Quell Now Inc., joined the discussion. Here’s what they shared on The Breakdown LIVE at IMEX: Designing for Belonging.

  • Inclusion and belonging isn’t a trend, says Wynn — it’s about treating people like humans. If you have the mentality that everyone walking through the doors is important to you then everyone will feel like they belong and not like you’re just checking boxes.
  • When planning inclusive events, a critical best practice is to consider things that impact enjoyment, like ADHD, or disabilities like color-blindness, which can affect the way information is received or perceived, says Zimmer.
  • Lui adds that belonging is different for everyone; listening is your most important tool. That’s the best way to design inclusive experiences for diverse groups and communities. Tap into internal communities within your organization and seek out external communities if they don’t exist within your organization.

Click the play button to watch the full discussion. You must be logged into LinkedIn to view the video.

Event No. 3: GMID 2024

Global Meetings Industry Day celebrates the impact the business events industry has on local and global economies. One of the hallmarks of this annual event is MPI’s 12-hour GMID Virtual Event, which offers education from around the world.

What you missed:

  • Watch parties convened around the world to share the day of education and advocacy with each other. On the Wall tab of the virtual event platform, participants shared images and selfies of their community experiences.
  • The event celebrated the economic impact of our industry, which contributes $119 billion in travel spending and supports nearly 600,000 jobs, and the resilience and creativity of our peers in the meetings and events industry.

Must-know insights: Maximizing supplier relationships

Giving a nod to the event theme, “The Event Professional’s Journey,” Courtney Stanley once again brought experts together to chat about a critical aspect of event planning — how to get the most out of working with suppliers. 

Amanda Armstrong, CMP, CED, Encore; Lisa Astorga, CMP, DES, ISTH; and Kelli Threlfall Kahn, Global Head of Events & Experiential Marketing, Blackstone, share insights and best practices from their own experiences. Here’s what they had to say.Armstrong shared a surprising Live Data Technologies statistic: Two-thirds of all planners and suppliers are new to the industry post-pandemic. This is one essential reason why it’s more important than ever to share best practices and invest in partners who are invested in your success, she says.

  • One of the best ways to build trust and supplier relationships, says Astorga, is to forge multiyear partnerships. Doing this also generates cost savings.
  • Kahn recommends bringing partners in from the beginning. Engaging people early on with clear objectives, she says, sets you up for success.
 

Click the play button to watch the full discussion.

Interested in more event recaps that keep you up to date on fresh takes and new learnings?Stay tuned! As we move through the year, Encore will continue to share top tips, clever insights and industry happenings you should know. 

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Welcome to our recap of the educational session “Pick Our Brains: Your Event Tech Questions, Our Practical Answers,” presented at MPI WEC. This engaging breakout session was a treasure trove of insights into event technology, addressing common pain points and providing practical solutions for planners.

Industry experts from Encore led the session, which was a mix of myth-busting, real talk and interactive Q&A. Their goal? Equip event planners like you with the knowledge you need to better understand a crucial aspect of the event experience — your technology solutions.

Let’s dive into the key insights and takeaways.

Your Event Tech Experts

  • Bret Fendt, Director, Customer Relationships
  • Debra Mategrano, Regional Sales Director
  • John Rissi, Senior Vice President, Customer & Industry Engagement
  • Johanna Walsh, Vice President, Event Production
  • Rob Wilcox, Director, Sales Engineering

1. Navigating Event Tech Costs with Confidence

Insight: In-house event tech services can sometimes appear costlier, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.

“As customer expectations have changed from everything to celebrity restaurants and blow dry bars to immersive events, the ability for hotels to service those expectations meant they needed to partner with expert companies to deliver on those expectations,” explained Debra Mategrano, Regional Sales Director.

“In-house partners are invested in the hotel, including the infrastructure like the internet lines, the rigging points and the equipment, but also the people through training, benefits and enhanced safety protocols. When you’re working with an outside provider, they don’t often have the same business model and the same investments,” she said.

“The value of an in-house partner is that they are an integral part of the venue’s team, with intimate knowledge of the space, what works and what doesn’t, as well as the building infrastructure.

“That matters to you, the customer, in a live event environment when we are constantly problem-solving and adapting. So, there’s a value to that potential cost differential.”

When comparing AV proposals, keep in mind that a venue’s infrastructure may affect costs. Ask about the specific reasons for cost differences, such as equipment transportation and setup complexities.

“Even within the same city, AV prices can vary significantly due to factors like the layout of the venue, the ease of equipment transport and the availability of power,” Mategrano highlighted. For example, a venue might require extensive labor to set up equipment due to its floor plan.

Pro Tip: Have early and detailed discussions with your in-house event tech provider to understand your venue’s unique capabilities along with any helpful considerations to keep in mind. They can provide guidance on choosing the right solutions for your budget and space.

2. Experiencing Consistent Event Production

Insight: Consistency in event technology services is a top priority for event professionals. When the experience varies across different venues and locations, this becomes a pain point.

“Customer feedback indicated challenges with consistency in service across different venues,” said John Rissi, Senior Vice President, Customer & Industry Engagement. “We honor that feedback, we hear you, and we invested in additional training and internal tools to address it.”

When event providers keep track of planners’ preferences, feedback and past requirements, they have the insights to offer a more uniform experience. Encore is dedicated to continuously improving this aspect to best serve our partners.

By leveraging our customer journey data tool, we are able to streamline and organize vital information for each of our clients,” Rissi elaborated. 

“It consolidates relevant event information, customer service surveys and notes from past events to provide a comprehensive view of each client’s needs.”

The benefit to Encore customers? Not needing to repeat their needs from venue to venue; the Encore team has greater access to their history at their fingertips.

Pro Tip: Cultivate strong partnerships with event technology providers who prioritize consistency and utilize data-driven insights to tailor their services to your specific needs.

By maintaining open communication and sharing feedback, you can ensure your event technology solutions align with your objectives and consistently meet your expectations across different venues.

3. Mastering Internet Needs and Costs

Insight: Internet services are an often a crucial yet misunderstood aspect of the event experience. From basic connectivity to tailored solutions, your internet choice impacts both capabilities and costs.

Bret Fendt, Director, Customer Relationships, explained, “Whether it’s opting for no support, basic connections, or fully managed services, each approach offers distinct advantages.”

Understanding your event’s internet needs comes down to determining how participants will use it and their expectations.

“Do you want attendees to be able to download session resources, share clips on social platforms, interact with digital polls, Q&A or something else?” he said. “The answers to these questions inform how much bandwidth you need.”

This is where your event provider can handle the legwork. “Encore provides a bandwidth calculator to help estimate needs. From there, our network engineers offer tailored advice.”

Here are a few considerations your event internet partner can walk you through to ensure you get the most out of your internet.

  • Scalability — Start with a baseline bandwidth, determined by your use of the bandwidth calculator, and scale up as needed. This flexibility ensures that your event can adapt to fluctuating demands without compromising connectivity.
  • Real-Time Monitoring — Ask for a daily bandwidth report to understand your usage. A dedicated event internet provider can continuously monitor bandwidth use and adjust it on the spot based on real-time usage patterns. This proactive approach enables you to avoid potential lags, buffering and other bottleneck situations to ensure a seamless digital experience for attendees.
  • Expert Support — Leverage the expertise of local and national Encore network engineers to address any internet-related challenges swiftly. Having a dedicated support team ensures that you can navigate unexpected hurdles with confidence, minimizing disruptions during your event.
  • Avoiding Pitfalls — While free internet options may seem tempting, remember that reliability often comes at a cost. “Free internet is something that’s unreliable and inconsistent… you get what you invest in. If it stops working in a live event scenario, there’s nothing you can do,” Fendt stated. Investing in robust internet solutions is essential to safeguard against potential connectivity issues and ensure a smooth experience for all stakeholders.
Pro Tip: Use the Encore bandwidth calculator to get a feel for internet costs in advance as you’re mapping out how to use your budget. Let your event provider know your needs and goals so they can tailor internet services to your event’s requirements.

4. Leveraging Producer Expertise

Insight: Producers can handle the operational and logistical needs of an event, ensuring all stakeholders are aligned.

“A producer is key to managing stakeholders and ensuring the success of your event,” said Johanna Walsh, Vice President, Event Production. “Good production relies heavily on organization, documentation and communication.”

Depending on the complexity of the event, different types of producers, from show callers, stage managers or event producers may be needed. “For more complex events, we recommend a show producer or an event producer,” she explained. “But we can make that recommendation for you. You don’t have to be an expert — we’re here to guide and advise.”

Choosing an event tech provider with in-depth knowledge of industry best practices can significantly enhance the quality of complex events.

Walsh highlighted, “My role involves building a production discipline at Encore, aligning producer and production capabilities with industry best practices. With experience from leading high-profile events and a focus on sustainability, we are committed to enhancing service delivery.”

By leveraging the expertise of production teams, you can ensure your event meets industry best practices and exceeds audience expectations.

“The evolving nature of event production requires specialized skills and sustainability considerations to deliver wow-worthy event experiences,” she said.

Pro Tip: Get clear on timelines because adhering to deadlines across your event production will save you time and money. It will also keep all team members, yours and your partners, fresh and ready for the challenge of each day.

5. Maximizing Digital Engagement Tools

Insight: There is a digital tool for many goals — “The timeline really depends on the event’s objectives and complexity,” Rob Wilcox, Director, Sales Engineering, noted.

Key tools include attendee management platforms, participant engagement tools, and content management systems. Event apps like Chime Live℠, Polling+ and Encore RSVP help manage registration, logistics and attendee engagement.

Using AI for live transcripts and summaries enhances post-event engagement. “We’re recording the session and using AI help summarize key takeaways for participants,” he shared.

Pro Tip: Let your event production partner know your goals, whether you are interested in streamlining event invites and check-ins, boosting in-room engagement or continuing valuable conversations with attendees with post-event resources and communications. They’ll recommend which digital tools can achieve each.

6. Cost-Saving Measures for Associations

Insight: Be upfront with your budget to allow providers to tailor solutions effectively.

“The sooner you involve us, the better we can plan equipment and labor which saves on having to subrent equipment or use outside labor,” Mategrano suggested. “Those are both more costly additions. The more honest you are with your price range, the better we can serve you.”

Pro Tip: Engage event tech providers early in the planning process to optimize resources.

By understanding the intricacies of event tech costs, service consistency, managing internet needs effectively, and enhancing production capabilities, planners can elevate their events to extraordinary experiences.

Ready to take your event to the next level? Contact our experts today for a free event production consultation.

We’d love to partner on crafting an inspiring experience. Reach out now and transform your next event with seamless technology solutions tailored to your needs.

 

What are event professionals prioritizing?

Download our H2 2023 Planner Pulse report and infographic to learn:
  • What’s in store for event budgets?
  • How do my peers determine if event goals were met?
  • What are the most popular engagement tools?
  • What technologies are event professionals excited to try?

Empower your event planning strategies. Don’t miss peer insights on optimizing your budget, evaluating success, enhancing engagement and more! 

Download the Planner Pulse & Infographic for full insights

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.

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 whats in store for the 

events industry 

In-person events have come back in a big way, and so far, the economic uncertainty does not appear to be causing much disruption. Check out the findings in the Fall Encore Planner Pulse to digest the latest insights from the planner community. Key insights from the report include:
      • 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
Stay abreast of the most recent event industry trends by downloading your complimentary copy of the Fall 2022 Encore Planner Pulse report today.
Download the Planner Pulse & Infographic for full insights

More meeting and event professionals are actively booking or sourcing new events now than any time since 2020. According to the Encore Summer Planner Pulse 2022 report, that number represents 71 percent of 461 survey respondents, who represent a diverse swath of corporate, association, administrative, marketing, third-party, independent and special event producers and organizers.

More than half of the meeting and event professionals surveyed say they are booking new events. And only five percent are currently rescheduling or re-booking events — the lowest number since the pandemic began.

Despite rising costs, in-person events are expected to increase in the second half of 2022.

Key survey findings:

      • 80 percent of events will have an in-person audience
      • 20 percent of events will be hybrid, with both in-person and remote audiences
 

The demands of keeping these dual hybrid event audiences engaged and planning two parallel events are a major stressor, the report finds. Perhaps that’s why the participant experience is becoming a greater factor in event design, with professionals layering technology over the in-person experience to create events that feel like they are in-person+ — with or without hybrid participants.

When asked how future in-person events will compare to pre-pandemic in-person events:

      • 45 percent of respondents said better attendee engagement
      • 38 percent of respondents said more networking
      • 37 percent of respondents said more attendee personalization
 

This trend drove Encore to create a free guide to help meeting and event professionals meet shifting audience expectations: Boundless Possibilities for Engagement. The Encore team also offers free consultations on how to enhance the in-person and remote attendee experience.

Other challenges meeting and event professionals say they face include lead times, specifically for large events. Event professionals report that a third of their events for more than 250 people (34 percent) must be organized within a three-to-six month window. Only half of these sized events are planned more than six months out. Most small meetings with one to 50 participants (43 percent) are being organized within one to two months out. Most mid-sized events with 51 to 250 participants (43 percent) are being organized three to six months out.

Want to read the full report? Download it here.

Discover whats in store for the 

events industry 

The industry and in-person are bouncing back in a big way. Although we are sure to experience ups and downs as we get back to normal, keeping up with changing event trends can help all industry professionals stay ahead of the game. In the Summer Encore Planner Pulse report, we take a deep dive into what to expect from in-person, hybrid, and virtual events in 2022.

      • Industry optimism has increased since summer 2021
      • Most planners predict full industry recovery by 2023
      • Outlook indicates 75 percent of 2022 events to be in-person
        or hybrid
      • And much more!

Get your complimentary digital copy of the Summer 2022 Encore Planner Pulse today.

Download the Planner Pulse & Infographic for full insights

Discover whats in store for the 

events industry 

Want to stay in-the-know with industry trends? Encore knows knowledge is power, which is why we continuously report on how our industry is evolving to help set you up for success. We poll meeting and event professionals across the globe to deliver the latest findings on everything from popular meeting formats and expectations to budgets, planner priorities and more.

Key insights from the Winter 2022 Planner Pulse report include:

      • The need to meet face-to-face will propel in-person events further in 2023
      • 62% of planners expect attendee size to grow up to 25%
      • Human connection and engagement are the most impactful values for in-person events
      • The industry growth we experienced last year will continue despite rising costs
      • Six of ten planners will see budget increases this year, driven by food and beverage costs, room rates and transportation needs

Download your free copy of the full report and infographic for insights that can help give you confidence in planning transformative meeting or events that resonate with today’s audiences.

Download the Planner Pulse & Infographic for full insights

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