3 Noteworthy Trends for Event Strategists to Explore in 2020

event strategistsPost authored by Donna Kastner, Founder of Retirepreneur

A recent Forrester report caught our eye, as it touched on several business trends that will also impact event strategists and the industry: PREDICTIONS 2020: On the Precipice of Far-Reaching Change.

For their 2019 predictions, Forrester called out Pragmatism as the central theme, especially for organizations who previously doubled down on customer-centric growth strategies.

Following a customer experience (CX) experimental honeymoon phase, they predicted 2019 would be the year to pull back the curtain, inspect results, and refine strategies to build a stronger, more adaptive foundation.

In other words, theories and anecdotal evidence would no longer hold sway with leadership.

If you’re looking to secure C-Suite support for a new event element, you need to back up this request with proof (behavioral data).

If your strategy and systems aren’t capable of this next-level insight, this gap must be addressed first, before adding anything else.

If extracting meaningful insights from your event data is a challenge for your organization, rest assured, you’re not alone.

This article will help you get a jumpstart on conquering this challenge: Successfully Climbing Your Mountain of Event Data

event strategistsShifting Our Gaze to 2020

Energy is the central thread running through many of the Forrester 2020 predictions, and this energy dynamic plays out across three landscapes:

1. Consumer Energy

 “…as consumers become more values-based, constructing personal ecosystems, and forcing firms to take sides on social issues.”

2. Security Energy

 “…as industrial and nation-state cyber risks surge and in some cases, merge.”

3. Technology Energy

“… as automation, AI, and robotics move deeper into the organization, closer to the customer, and more profoundly, into the very makeup and operations of the company.”

Three Noteworthy Trends for Event Professionals to Ponder

While Forrester examined eleven trends impacting our world in 2020, there were three I’d like to showcase here, with commentary framing these in the context of events:

1. Consumers search for deeper meaning

Many organizations look at attendee experiences through their lenses and sometimes add conveniences or perks that fail to resonate.

In 2020, values alignment looks to rank higher as a decision-to-attend filter.

Forrester goes on to share that “more than 55% of consumers will consider values when making a buying decision.”

Attending your conference or trade show cuts deeper than nearly any other business buying decision they’ll make.

After all, many are joining your event community for several days or longer. For some, their presence at your event is akin to a tacit endorsement for your organization.

 “This is not a new phenomenon but a trend that has slowly climbed from niche to mainstream.”

The same could be said for event experience design, a strategy that’s quickly advancing from niche to mainstream.

Keep in mind; attendee event experience palates are growing more sophisticated, further underscoring the need to get it right, while steering clear of value clashes.

2. Immersive, adaptive IT takes hold

Tech-driven innovation – that’s the mandate for 2020. Forrester goes on to share: “The boundaries between what is IT and what is the business are already fading to reveal a much more powerful and fluid IT capability.” 

Forrester also warns of another IT danger lurking – automation islands.

“Eighty percent of enterprises will recognize the threat of automation islands and determine that they are no longer sustainable.” 

Now think about how data flows across your organization. Are there process roadblocks or departmental silos that prevent you from seeing the full picture?

A more connected and adaptive strategy will be needed to keep all event stakeholders satisfied, engaged, and returning. 

3. The customer experience (CX) continues to bifurcate

Bifurcation – now there’s a word you don’t hear every day, and it speaks to the fork in the road where CX executives will either thrive or perish.

Those who accurately measure/prove business impact and are committed to continuous improvement will win the CX race.

The winners will also earn more resources (headcount, budget, etc.), which will expand their lead. As for the others? Headcount and budget cuts will be inevitable.

Here’s more from Forrester: “Leaders will keep getting better, raising the bar not only in their industry but across the board as customers get a taste of what’s possible. We expect innovative, customer-delighting experiences to come to market that combine technology, creativity, and deep customer understanding.”

Many of these customer-delighting experiences will be introduced at live events, which in time, will earn more CX-savvy event executives a seat at the leadership table.

I would encourage you to give the full 15-page Forrester PREDICTIONS 2020 report a closer look, as understanding more about all eleven trends will help make 2020 event outcomes even more fruitful.

Which trend will you focus on mastering in 2020? Why? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


About Donna

Donna Kastner has spent a good portion of her career as an event experience design consultant and is now building a dynamic collaboration community for executives age 50+ who are striving to make a smooth segue from full-time job to part-time consulting gig.

As the founder of Retirepreneur, Donna’s championing a movement to help others design flexible and fulfilling encore career opportunities.


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