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The industry is still catching up from the impacts of COVID-19. And while we aren’t entirely off this wild rollercoaster, we’re hopeful 2022 will start to provide our industry with opportunities and new beginnings. It’s been a challenging ride, and as an industry, we propelled forward faster than ever before, creating new ways to execute events. The industry will continue to evolve, and today we are predicting the top 9 event trends for 2022. These are trends and predictions we have seen beginning to unfold through many interviews and extensive research! So without further delay, here are our predictions for the top 9 event trends of 2022! 

1. Hybrid Events are Here to Stay 

Though we are all excited to come back to in-person events, hybrid events showcase unique advantages and aren’t going anywhere. In fact, in a recent survey, Bizzabo found that 97% of event professionals expect to see more hybrid events going forward. And if that isn’t enough, EventMB found that 71% of event planners said they would continue to employ a digital strategy even after live events returned. 

There are so many benefits to offering a virtual component to your event as it allows flexibility in how people participate in your event. Not all attendees can take time away from work and family to travel. For others, the cost of attending in person becomes a barrier. Event organizers can benefit by reducing their environmental impact and extending their reach. No matter the reason, hybrid events make for a more impactful event, and are here to stay!

Are you planning a hybrid event? Check out our article 7 Important Considerations for Planning Your Next Hybrid Event now!

2. Flexibility Will Reign

Event organizers will continue to meet attendees where they are at and offer flexibility in how people participate. Attendees will expect events to have both in-person and virtual ways to attend. On top of this, they will benefit from on-demand content they can watch at their own leisure. 

Flexibility will also go beyond the attendee experience. Event organizers will need to continue to be flexible as we enter our new normal. Planners will need to adjust to local health department recommendations and adapt in the face of supply chain issues and labor shortages. We still can’t control so much, so being flexible and having backup plans will be key! 

Source: MeetGreen

3. An Increased Focus on Sustainability 

We’ve all seen the devastating impacts of climate change this year, from historic floods to ferocious fires. We need to make changes now to protect our earth for future generations. Events are known to produce a lot of waste, and the travel to them increases our carbon emission. In a study, MeetGreen found the average conference waste produced by an individual attendee was 1.89KG, and 1.16KG of that waste goes directly into a landfill. For a 1000 person event, that translates to the weight of 5670KG or four compact cars. 

Event professionals are aware of the impact events have on the earth and are striving to do better. While sustainability is not a trend and something all event professionals need to keep top of mind, we do see a trend towards more awareness. Events everywhere are making improvements to reduce their carbon footprint. Planners are looking for sustainable solutions, including banning single-use plastics, going paperless, or selecting green venues that meet sustainability standards and guidelines. 

4. Micro Events Replace Some Larger Scale Events 

2020 saw a need for smaller events. The industry needed to create smaller events due to safety and budgets. In some cases, large gatherings were not allowed to go on, and in others, people just didn’t feel safe yet. The CDC continues to recommend avoiding large events and gatherings. Although safety was the main driver to produce micro-events, something unexpected came out of them, genuine connections and community. 

The connections attendees make at micro-events can be more authentic. It’s easier to get to know the people who attend more intimately because of the size. At large events, attendees might just feel like a number and be hesitant to network or approach people they are interested in getting to know. But if the event is more intimate, it’s less scary to make that approach. As with any trend, you need to implement a micro event with careful considerations. When planning micro-events, be intentional about your guest list and tailor the experience to the niche you are targeting. If you do this, your event will be a success! 

Source: Infrared Imaging Solutions 

5. Enhanced Safety Protocols 

After a long time of waiting, we are finally able to gather again in person. With this ability comes great responsibility, and event professionals across the globe are rising to the challenge! Many planners are taking a “safety in layers” approach to planning a safe in-person event. To enter events, we’ll see more health screenings like temperature checks and rapid COVID-19 testing. Some events are requiring vaccination to enter.  

Onsite attendees will adhere to mask policies and social distancing. In addition, catering is evolving and finding innovative ways to provide safe service, forgoing buffets and offering covered service options. All of these methods and more will help create a multi-layer approach that gives attendees and event professionals everywhere a safer way to be together. 

6. Meaningful Experiences 

The pandemic dramatically brought our lives to a halt. Yet, this pause allowed us all to reflect on what matters and how we spend our time. As a result, attendees are looking to go beyond keynotes and seek meaningful experiences that challenge them or change them somehow. These transformative experiences will help attendees understand their potential and abilities. 

To do this, create ways for your attendees to have their own meaningful experiences. This can be as simple as allowing people to choose their adventure, creating break-out session tracks with specific attendee goals in mind. You could also provide networking experiences designed to make impactful connections, not just swap business cards in a shuffle. Foster an environment that allows attendees to find transformative experiences, then don’t try to control it too much. Just let the magic unfold! 

event trend - supply chain

7. Supply Chains will Majorly Impact Events 

The supply chain issue has hit every industry, and unfortunately, the events industry is no exception. We’ve talked about this with many of our partners and this problem has hit every aspect of events. So what does it mean for 2022? Event organizers can expect to see prices rise and shortages occur. You may not be able to get an element of the event you’d hoped for, so be flexible and work with your partners to find a plan B. 

Labor shortages will be even more challenging to overcome than price increases and supply shortages. The nationwide labor shortage has caused wages to increase 20 – 30% if you do find staff. When budgeting for events, be sure to factor in these rising costs, so they don’t impact your bottom line. 

Want to learn more about how the supply chain crisis has impacted events? Read our full article here. 

Source: Tent – Alexander Party Rentals Photo – Aaron Liu Photography

8. Outdoor Events Rise In Popularity

Because outdoor events can help us gather again with less risk, we will continue to see events take place outside. Hosting an event in the open-air significantly reduces transmission risks and creates a safer way to come together. 

Not only is it safe, but it’s a great way to break up an event and ditch the traditional ballroom. When strategizing for your outdoor event, create backup plans if there is a sudden change in weather. Also, consider power supplies as you no longer have wall outlets to plug into. This could mean your event requires a generator! Whether you are in a wide-open space or creating an experience in an event tent your attendees are sure to love getting outside and breathing in the fresh air! 

Planning an outdoor event? Check out our Outdoor Seattle Events Guide! 

9. A Focus On Continued Education

There is no sugar coating it. The events industry was flipped on its back when the pandemic hit. Event professionals everywhere had to figure out how to create a virtual event and fast to survive. Many of us never want to be in that position again, so we’re doing something to prevent it. Across the country, event professionals are seeking event planning certifications. These certifications help to bolster knowledge and allow professionals to gain new skills. As a result, we have seen a big spike in education surrounding the new realm of virtual, hybrid events, and event safety. At Northwest Events, we believe there is always room to learn and grow, so this is definitely a trend we can get behind! 

Conclusion: 9 Event Trends that Will Influence the Events Industry in 2022 

As you can see from these trends and predictions, our industry still has a lot of uncertainty. They aren’t the rosy event trends you used to read in years prior, but they are reality. Even with that being said, we’re feeling positive and believe 2022 will be a big year for our industry! Use these trends and predictions to plan for 2022. They will help you guide your decisions and inspire your processes. What event trends do you predict for 2022? Comment below and let us know! 

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