THE KEY EVENT & CONFERENCE INDUSTRY TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2024
With an interesting few years under our belts, we know the events and conferences industry has had a rollercoaster of a time. But what does the future hold? Keep reading to learn more about our predictions for the industry in 2024.
Now that 2023 is in the rear window it’s typically time to reflect on the year - including looking at what events you have enjoyed the most and which planning methods worked (or didn’t). But it’s also time to look towards the future.
With 2024 here, we wanted to take a moment to explore what we think some of the upcoming industry trends will be for the new year. From technological advances to inclusivity, keep reading to learn what 2024 may bring to the future of events and conference planning.
Industry trend predictions for 2024
The last few years have been interesting, to say the least. From the strangeness and unpredictability of the Covid pandemic, to new and innovative technologies, the events and conferences industry has undergone a period of rapid change - and 2024 appears to be right on schedule to continue this trend.
In the points below, we’ve pulled together some of the main themes that we think will guide the future of events planning, into 2024 and beyond.
Sustainability is essential
Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword - this is absolutely the future of events planning. As people have become more environmentally conscious, they’re looking towards the events industry to take control and match their demands for more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices.
As an event planner, you’ll need to stay on top of this topic and ensure your event does what it can to meet expectations for the industry. This could be through reducing waste and promoting recycling, to searching for venues with carbon neutral ratings and strong green credentials.
At ACC Liverpool for example, we’re a Carbon Neutral Events Campus and have taken serious steps towards our goal of reaching net zero status in the future.
New sustainability legislation for 2024
Committing to sustainability is important for attracting attendees, but new legislation due to be enacted means it’s also going to affect how you organise and manage events moving forwards.
As of January 2024, EU reporting directives will require businesses to disclose their scope 3 emissions as part of their enhanced climate legislation. The UK is due to follow with the UK Sustainability Disclosure Standards later in the year, so reacting appropriately and adhering to governmental legislation is going to be key moving forwards into 2024 and beyond.
Social responsibility is on the rise
Alongside sustainability, people are expecting more from the businesses and companies they patronise - including a commitment to social responsibility. Social responsibility is typically split into four categories, which are:
- Environmental responsibility: for example, committing to sustainable practices, actively working to improve, or reduce, your impact on the environment.
- Ethical responsibility: for example, treating staff fairly and supporting communities in your local area and beyond.
- Philanthropic responsibility: for example, working with charities and communities to help important causes.
- Economic responsibility: for example, contributing to the success of your local area, working towards a positive economic future for everyone involved.
Each of these four pillars are important, and future attendees and event participants will be looking at events with these in mind. As we mentioned above, sustainability and environmental concern are one of the top considerations for attending events, with 78% of global consumers feeling that sustainability is important.
Additionally, 82% of consumers feel that a poor human rights and compliance record is one of the factors that will alienate them from a brand. So, to keep possible attendees engaged with your brand or company, you need to consider socially responsible practices when planning your next event.
At ACC Liverpool, we understand how important our team is to our success as a venue, which is why we’re proud to have been awarded the Fair Employment Charter Status in the Liverpool region.
New technology is leading the way
AI, VR, AR - these aren’t just a random assortment of letters. Technology is swiftly developing, and the digital sphere will continue to be essential in 2024.
In terms of event planning, digital VR can cut down on venue visits, and allow you to visualise how an event will work within a space without having to leave the office. Our Virtual Tour for example, lets you explore our venue and get a feel for the space from the comfort of your desk.
At the event, VR and AR are making a space for themselves. AR, or augmented reality, could be especially useful at tradeshows or business conferences. With AR, attendees can interact with virtual environments from their phone, allowing brands to showcase their products without needing to ship large quantities of materials with them.
AI has also steadily been earning its place within the industry. Large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT for example, can help you find inspiration for ice-breakers, or generate talking points for you to use during networking events.
A shifting focus on experience-first events
Events and conferences are typically all about networking, advertising, or upskilling. Whilst these are still vital reasons for attendance, more and more people are expecting their events to be an Experience with a capital E.
From live music in the evenings, to competitions and prizes, attendees are looking for their events to be a statement in 2024. This is helped by advances in interactive technologies, which has brought attendee experience even further towards the forefront of events planning. Virtual reality has created new levels of interactivity, with VR headsets allowing participants to experience a whole new virtual world, and its related sights and sensations.
Creating memorable experience-first experiences is mostly constrained by your creativity (and budget), but will definitely be something to consider with your events schedule in 2024.
Wellbeing practices will be more commonplace
One of the positives to be drawn from events in recent years is the focus and spotlight being shone on mental health and its importance in our everyday life. As we move into 2024, the events industry should look forwards to an increased emphasis on wellness practices, as attendees remain conscious of how occasions will affect their health and wellbeing.
Keeping wellbeing in mind, and making sure your attendees are the centre of the experience can go a long way to creating a successful event.
But wellness is not just for delegates. Incorporating wellness measures into the event planning experience will benefit the organisers too. This could be through innovative uses of technology to help streamline your workload, or ensuring you take breaks to avoid burnout.
Remember, by reducing stress, you can embrace your creativity and innovation, and stay at the top of your game throughout the year.
Gamification = attendee engagement
Attendee engagement is, and will continue to be, absolutely essential in 2024. Figuring out new and interesting ways to get participants to engage with your event content should definitely be one of your top new year's resolutions - which is where gamification comes in.
Gamification, as in the act of incorporating traditional gaming metrics into other activities, can have a big impact on attendee engagement, enjoyment, and the effectiveness of your event. Designing your event with opportunities for point scoring, prizes, and challenges are all valid ways of encouraging participants to engage with your brand and create a memorable experience.
This could include quizzes, participation points, and other interactive activities that will encourage attendees to make more effort during the event. Technology will almost certainly link into this, with VR and AR contributing to advanced gaming systems and increased attendee engagement.
Accessibility, diversity and inclusion is key
Making your events and conferences accessible, diverse and inclusive will continue to be essential as we move into 2024. These aren’t just token ideas - incorporating these principles into every stage of your event can have a real impact on communities.
Making sure you include appropriate and additional Accessibility Solutions opens your event to a wider audience and offers participants the chance to learn about, and from, different perspectives - creating a more interesting and inclusive experience.
Accessibility and inclusion
Accessibility is much more than simply having accommodations for disabled people or people with additional needs. It’s about making people feel welcome, valued, and included as participants in an event - and goes beyond simply ensuring you have step-free access or large print on documentation (although these are also essential). You need to keep in mind little details that can make a big difference, such as:
- For wheelchair users: making sure your event stalls are spaced appropriately to allow people to manoeuvre safely, or checking that the available lifts are usable (can fit multiple chairs, or are large enough to turn comfortably).
- For HoH or deaf attendees: having hearing loops, sign interpreters alongside your speakers, or making sure you have subtitles or appropriate written texts for people to use.
- For people with neurodiverse needs: establishing quiet areas, or using technology to make networking easier.
- For everyone: making sure the language used across communication channels is inclusive and appropriate.
These are just a few options that will make your events in 2024 even more impactful and inclusive for all. But accessibility and inclusion can’t work in isolation - combined with diversity they make a better environment for everyone.
Representation has rightfully become more important within the events industry and will continue to be essential in 2024 and beyond. We can all benefit from hearing and learning about different perspectives - so having a diverse network of speakers, participants, and events staff (at all levels) will give you a greater chance of pulling off a truly great event experience.
In 2024, the events and conferences industry should continue towards recognising and ensuring that they’re including voices from a wide variety of identities and backgrounds to create a more diverse, inclusive, and representative events experience.
In-person events are re-establishing themselves
The events industry has been irrevocably changed after the pandemic (as has much of our daily lives if we’re honest). But, one thing that we predict for 2024 is that in-person events will be re-establishing themselves as popular with participants again.
After several years of little-to-no, or even broken, connectivity, it’s unsurprising that people want to continue meeting in person for events and conferences now that it’s possible again. As the hosts of the UK’s first post-lockdown conference, we know how valuable in-person events are with attendees across the country - and with 52.1% of event organisers reporting an increase in in-person event attendance, this trend looks sure to continue into 2024 and beyond.
Hybrid isn’t leaving
However, even with this in mind, you shouldn’t expect hybrid events to be going away in 2024. Whilst virtual fatigue is very real, this doesn’t eliminate the fact that simply having the capacity for hybrid events is a boon for the events industry.
Not only do hybrid events models offer you more variety when it comes to inviting speakers and participants from around the world, but it allows people to attend who may not have been able to afford any travel requirements (either because of monetary, childcare, or time costs). Hybrid events are also a step in the right direction for inclusivity, so they definitely won’t be going anywhere in the future.
Overall, technological improvements in virtual meeting spaces, a rising consideration of the costs of in-person events, and sustainability efforts all combine to make the Hybrid Events model still extremely relevant for event planners in 2024.
Participants are expecting personalisation
Personalisation has, and will continue, to make a big impact on participant engagement - which makes it an essential part of events planning in the future. Creating tailored event experiences helps to boost attendee engagement and encourages people to positively connect with your brand.
Technology will also become more commonplace as the shift towards personalisation continues. For example, AI can be used for generating bespoke event schedules and offering suggestions depending on an attendee’s personal preferences from data collected throughout the registration process.
Check out our Essential Guide to Event & Conference Personalisation for more tricks to incorporating this theme into future events.
Look out for more data collection methods
Data collection continues to be essential for event planning. From personalisation to engagement, having attendee information helps you create the experiences your membership are looking for. But the data collection landscape is changing, and you’ll need to ensure you’re keeping up with this in 2024 and beyond.
Due to changes in privacy regulations, third-party cookies are in decline, and first-party data is becoming more valuable for event planners. So, making sure you have systems in place to collect information directly from your attendees via registration forms, polls, and surveys before, during, and after your events will be even more valuable in 2024.
Impact measurements matter
With tighter budgets and spending, well-considered events strategies will be even more essential for 2024. This naturally comes with an increased desire to measure the impact of future events, whether this is in terms of ROI, participant engagement, or an event’s impact upon the surrounding community.
Key figures like attendance rates and survey results, community engagement stats and budget/profit analysis (where applicable) will all help you to measure the impact of your event in 2024.
At ACC Liverpool, we’re committed to leading the way within the events industry. Our Events Legacy Toolkit is incredibly useful for planning events and helping you to openly communicate and connect with the surrounding communities, and partner with people to make sure our events venue has a positive impact within our city.
Host memorable events in 2024 with ACC Liverpool
Choose ACC Liverpool to host your next conference or event and take advantage of our fantastic knowledge base within the events industry. Our In-House Expertise spans from production to events management, and we’re ready to help you make 2024 the best year yet!