Meet Cambridge’s Kelly Vickers takes a look ahead and highlights the top predictions for event organisers in 2018.

What a busy year we’ve had! January is an excellent time to take stock, look back at what’s gone well and look forward to forthcoming months. We reached out to our experts in Cambridge and beyond for their insight into what we can expect to see more of this year. Here are their predictions for 2018 in events.

Mindfulness and healthier meetings

According to Google Trends, the UK features in the top five nations searching for the term “mindfulness” over the past 12 months. This is certainly something that we’ve noticed as an important part of event organising, and something we predict is going to increase in popularity over the next year. Those meetings that include an element of exercise, healthy catering and mindfulness will be in high demand. We also expect to see more downtime scheduled as part of all events, particularly those that last two or three days. This stems from delegates expecting time to reflect and process learnings. Learn more from the States in this interesting podcast: http://www.pcmaconvene.org/design/meetings-your-brain/can-mindfulness-improve-your-meetings.

Focus on smaller meetings

It looks like 2018 will see an emphasis on “small is beautiful” when it comes to events. Our event organisers said that smaller meetings were getting more popular, with intimate spaces leading to informal set up in terms of layout, seating arrangements and event architecture. Smaller events are great for networking, allowing more time to build meaningful connections and get to know people – this year will be all about the people that you meet and the connections that you make.

The concept of second-tier destinations is gaining traction – while the term still needs clarification, these alternative, smaller cities such as Cambridge offer more personal packages, lower venue and hotel costs as well as time-saving and logistical advantages. Expect to hear this term more and more in the coming months.

Unusual venue spaces

Event organisers in 2018 will be looking for venue spaces that are out of the ordinary and offer delegates something new. Different experiences and unusual settings will become the norm for those wanting to offer a change this year. Outdoor meetings – when the weather cooperates – are set to be bigger than ever this year.

At Meet Cambridge we know that planners like delegates to have unusual, unforgettable experiences – which might mean hosting in places like an atmospheric cellar space, a breath-taking rooftop venue, a beautiful chapel, a pavilion with great light and space, a pagoda for some fresh air, a garden, or an impressive sports venue.

We can also see a shift from ‘things to experiences’ – taking different approaches to delivering on an event’s objectives. This can mean making it participative if it hasn’t been before instead of theatre style team meetings, or by including an intriguing activity alongside the meeting – such as a CSI crime scene activity, a cooking class, a cocktail session, or an interesting inspiring keynote.

The millennial effect

The much-talked about millennials – people aged 18 to 34 – who have grown up with social media are set to have an even bigger impact on events in 2018. Shared experiences and connections will see a blurring of lines between the online and offline world but face-to-face meetings still won’t be replaced by a virtual experience. To be successful and resonate with millennials, organisers will need to continue to capitalise on event hashtags and photo opportunities for Instagram and other social sharing.

VR and live streaming

Virtual Reality will continue to have more of an impact this year and many of our venues have widened out participation during events by broadcasting meetings online in real time. According to Eventbrite’s Event Industry Report, both VR and AR have penetrated the consciousness of event organisers, with 31% actively considering it for events in comparison to 23% last year. However, with tightening of budgets due to inflation and an unstable economy, we also expect there to be rationalising of technology, which will only be used where it adds to the value of an event – and isn’t used for tech sake.

Sustainability

As conversations about saving our planet ramp up, we think that the issue of sustainability and waste will also become more important on RFPs (Request for Proposals). There’s an expectation now that there will be high-quality, creative vegetarian and vegan food choices as part of any event and we believe that this trend is only set to also grow.

What do you expect to see more – or less of – this year? Get in touch to let us know your opinion about the biggest trends of 2018.

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