B2B Marketing Blog

Three major trends affecting the future of event companies


The events and conference industry has kicked off to a nice buoyant start this year and we're seeing lots of enthusiasm and commitment for change. We set out to identify the most talked about key trends, predictions and insights that have the conference and events industry buzzing and will most likely impact your business in the not too distant future (if not already!). 

We can clearly identity that general predictions in the industry fall into three main areas: 

1. Decreasing delegate revenues

We’ve known for a while that delegate revenues are suffering, but what does this mean going forward?

  • Delegate sales will continue to be squeezed in spite of demand for face-to-face interactions increasing. The demand for onsite events is on the up but the recession has left the event landscape permanently changed, with spex continuing to dominate a once delegate-led market.

  • Mediocre events will suffer most, as better quality competitors push them out. This perennial prediction is given a new lease of life as post-recession businesses maintain the spending savvy that saw them safely through the tough times.

  • The growing trend towards “winner takes all” sees a shift from small conferences to LSE's. Flying in the face of the old saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”, the conference landscape post credit crunch reveals that MDs and Portfolio Directors have tended towards investing in flagship events rather than broad portfolios.

  • Publishers will continue to encroach on conference territory; conferences need to find a way to fight back. The smartest cookies are doing this by playing them at their own game and reversing the publishing/event hybrid.

2. Adoption of new technologies and new marketing trends

In the face of a changing even landscape, event organisers need to adapt to survive and fast. But how will they do so?

  • Building a community has replaced the transactional relationships of the past. Watching the heroes and casualties of the downturn quickly revealed that having a solid community was a smart survival strategy. This will get more pronounced as social media enables global community creation.

  • Video will become central to most communities. We’ve been hearing for a while that video is the hot new content medium and when Instagram integrated video recently, it was just one of a number of indicators that video has gone from “nice to have” to a fundamental part of community building.

  • Marketing departments need to focus on inbound marketing and content. The days of a free ride “build it and they will come” approach to conferences is over. Sending masses of DM and email and hoping is not a viable marketing strategy - inbound marketing and quality content is what’s needed and working now.

3. New shift in functional responsibilities and focus issues within the organisation’s team

In addition to new technologies and trends, the very fundamentals of an events business and its typical roles are called into question and scrutinised. Here’s how your business might be transforming over the coming months:

  • Producers need to focus on becoming editors. In line with marketing’s move to inbound and content led strategies, they need the topic knowledge powerhouse of the project behind them, not only for expert information but to act as editors and to be always half an eye on the lookout for content opportunities.

  • Operations teams need to focus on risk management and onsite experience. Hey ops, you’re marketers now! “What? We are?!” Customer experience, especially onsite will make or break an event in a single year. Marketing for next year begins this year with delivering on the day.

  • Sales teams will be tasked with selling more annual touch point packages. Company budgets are in a constant state of flux, so securing an annual commitment is a smart way to defend your slice of the pie. It also plays into the broader business trend towards annual strategy and long term plans instead of quick wins that are perceived as risky.

  • Portfolio directors and MDs will need to focus on brand and data integrations. There will be a move towards breaking down silos, data sharing, collaboration and unified efforts across the business to building the strongest possible brands.

In conclusion, conference companies and event organisations will really need to look at the way they are approaching their product development and marketing. More than ever the old maxim “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will get what you always got” becomes very appropriate for the events industry. It is now a matter of adapt or die.

Eleven most talked about predictions for the conference and events industry


Photo credit: Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection.

Topics: B2B Marketing Marketing Trends Content Marketing Conference Marketing