Insights
2022 Event Trends

27 January 2022
By Tengku Fairuz Khalisah Tuan Ibrahim, Planning & Project Management
While many of us have begun to adapt to the changes of 2020, the year 2021 brought its own set of challenges that continued to disrupt the industry.
The emergence of Delta and Omicron variants brought new uncertainty to an already unsteady landscape. Global vaccine disparities are further highlighted as health authorities introduced booster doses despite many developing countries have yet to receive their primary shots. As of December 2021, tighter restrictions were being imposed with stricter national safety policies in efforts to safeguard against the emerging variants.

In addition, remote working culture has become the new normal. Flexible work schedules has helped open conversations around improving work-life balance with an emphasis on mental health and wellness.
 
These challenges and themes have influenced the event trends of 2022. Enhancements in event formats and evolution of event components gave rise to sustainability, diversity and inclusion elements with space for physical and mental wellbeing.

This brings us to some of the anticipated event trends for this year:
Breaking the boundaries
Events that take place independently do not conform to the traditional boundaries of time and place and can cater to attendees from all locations and various time zones. It also gives an opportunity for organisers to continually improve content based on real time feedback.
Year-round event engagement driven by insights
Building virtual communities prior to the main event can help drive the event agenda and spark engagement. Which keynote speaker do they prefer? Which topic is of interest to them? These discussions and conversations are then translated to data insights to facilitate better decision-making for future events.
Quality over quantity
The yardstick of every successful event lies in its engagement rate. Having smaller, more intimate events preserves the quality of participant interaction and allows them to form more meaningful connections with one another.
On-demand is in demand
Consistent content creation drives engagement and keeps audience interested in between events. On-demand content will also become a topic of conversation among attendees and builds communities. Attendees also prefer events that are spread out over a few weeks compared to events held over two or three-day intense formats.
Increased use of AI
AI-powered recommendations of conference sessions, exhibitors and networks that are enhanced based on user activity. Attendee networks can also influence other recommendations based on what participants’ connections are adding to their personal agenda.
Sustainable events
Deloitte reports that climate concerns are more prevalent among younger consumers, with climate change as the top personal concern to Gen Z adults. As consumers demand for more sustainable practices from brands, they would also expect events to be delivered with minimal environmental impact.
Mindfulness and wellness
Remote working has sparked conversations about the importance of mental health and wellbeing. Packing back-to-back sessions is very exhausting and can be a turn-off to many attendees. For this year, we can expect to see more events dedicating specific sessions to mindfulness activities such as meditation and yoga sessions, brain break to inspire creativity, tech-free zones and outdoor activities.
Despite continued global uncertainty, many major conferences have reverted to physical format. However, these trends are expected to apply to virtual and hybrid event formats as well. While we can never be confident of what the future holds, these themes serve as an indicator of the direction the industry is heading this year.
© 2022 International Conference and Exhibition Professionals (iCEP)
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