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The State of Conferences and Events 2017

by Jeremy Kressmann + Skift Team
Business Travel
Hospitality
Mobile
Travel Tech

Skift Research Take

The meetings and events sector is evolving at a rapid pace. Pioneering events like South by Southwest and C2 are raising event attendees' expectations, putting pressure on organizers to design more engaging experiences at events of all shapes and sizes. Meanwhile, new types of event technology like artificial intelligence and personalization tools offer new opportunities (and challenges) for meeting planners. This report investigates the state of today's conference and event sector, and examines how organizers should look to evolve their own event strategies in response in the years ahead.

Report Overview

Corporate conferences, events and meetings are becoming increasingly important for organizations across a range of industries. Many C-level executives say such real-life gatherings are critical for them to gain mindshare with customers and stakeholders amidst a noisy and distracting marketing environment, and a significant majority (over 70 percent) say they plan to increase their marketing budgets for such events in 2017.

But even as more companies confirm that meetings and events are more important than ever before, many event planners say that creating an event that’s both engaging for attendees and successful in achieving business goals can be complicated. One challenge is rising expectations created by other groundbreaking events like South by Southwest (SXSW), TED and C2, which were once considered to be outside the normal corporate meeting sector. These events’ “festival-style” programming, interdisciplinary speakers and multimedia approach, along with the changing tastes of the younger attendees that flock to such gatherings, is having a growing influence on the corporate events sector as well.

Amidst the shifting expectations created by popular events like SXSW, meeting planners also must contend with a growing range of new event technology tools related to artificial intelligence, event automation and personalization. Deciding which event tools will help meet the organizers’ business goals, and measuring their return on investment can be a difficult process. In addition, growing demands from event sponsors, a critical audience who can often make or break an event budget, are adding to the complicated decisionmaking process facing many meeting planners.

Skift’s State of Conferences and Events 2017 report examines the trends that are reshaping the meetings and events sector across all industries, evaluating how factors like new types of event technology, changes in sponsor activations and shifts in the broader culture are offering new opportunities for executives organizing meetings. It also investigates some of the challenges forcing meeting organizers to fundamentally rethink their approach to such gatherings, as new demands from audiences and sponsors, along with new types of conferences, and bigger questions about how to measure success, remain on many executives’ minds.

What You'll Learn From This Report

  • How have events like SXSW, TED and C2 transformed the event sector and raised the expectations of attendees?
  • Why are more corporate conferences and events taking their inspiration from creative-driven music and film festivals?
  • What types of technology are meeting organizers currently deploying for their events?
  • Which types of event technology tools offer the best return on investment for meeting planners, and create the best experience for guests?
  • Why is personalization critical to designing a successful meeting in 2017?
  • How do event organizers use tools like artificial intelligence and chatbots to improve the conference experience?
  • What struggles do event organizers face when creating compelling event sponsorship programs?

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