Maritz Global Events Blog

Event Planner Challenges and Opportunities of the Next Decade

There's a lot goes into crafting the ultimate event experience. Putting a successful event together means many moving parts, and there are a lot of things event planners need to be ready for.

We're always looking at new trends, tech innovations and the social climate to see what will shake up the industry.

Want to get ahead of the game and modernize your event?

Here are challenges and opportunities event planners can expect in the next decade.

Event Planner Challenges

Political Unrest

Politics will be a huge issue, no matter the decade.

There's a lot of noise out there about trade tensions and political uncertainty. The issues between the United States and China and Brexit in Europe are prime examples.

Brexit may sound specific to the UK only, but it's much more global.

Worth a GBP of 42.3 billion, logistical resources become challenging. The cost of hiring cross-border staff and securing booths and sponsorships will increase with Brexit.

Don't forget the challenges of cross-border exhibitions and the heavy taxations of international business.

These issues could cause business confidence to wane and group-business travel is most sensitive to this. Unfortunately for us, periods of political turbulence and unrest are always a "wait-and-see" scenario.

Data Protection

Data protection is always on event planners' minds.

We must protect the personal data of our guests, exhibitors, sponsors and delegates.

Event registration platforms and management software hold a goldmine of information: names, business titles, personal/business email addresses, phone numbers, travel itineraries and reservations and more.

Consent and legal interests set the guidelines for interaction with these groups. Compliance laws such as the GDPR will be one of the toughest challenges for organizations to oversee and ensure.

Events’ Impact on the Environment

Today is all about going green and a circular economy approach to event planning is on the rise.

The tides are turning. Carbon neutrality, sustainable design and eco/green themes are becoming the new event fad.

We don’t mean avoiding landfills with recycling. Sustainability means more significant, bolder actions by more events and organizations in our industry.

Go big or go home!

We're talking about actions like:

  • organic and sustainable food sourcing
  • going local for various products and services
  • incorporating charitable activities into the itinerary that "give back" to the environment
  • catering to the wave of meatless/animal-free diets; travel emission considerations (and more).

These things may work wonders toward a more eco-conscious practice, but, sustainable event management comes with a whole new set of hoops to jump through, and a lot more to check off.

With so many things to consider, site selection will challenge more and more event planners.

They must weigh the needs and values of different stakeholders with the long-term environmental impacts of the event.

Event Planner Opportunities

Embracing Diversity

45 percent and 28 percent of event websites in North America and Europe, respectively, included information about their diversity and inclusivity policies.

Social awareness will make a significant impact over the next 10 years.

Industry professionals want to maximize socio-economic benefits and education. They want to inspire positive change that will continue into the event community.

Live experiences will be as inclusive as they can be, regardless of the target audience.

Hot-button issues like gender inclusion and neutrality, accessibility, religious/spiritual and cultural values of diversity will stay top of mind.

You can expect organizers to take things a step further by considering people’s life choices as well.

Think specialty mocktails for your event’s happy hour for your non-drinkers.

Or changing opening statements to “Welcome everyone!” instead of “Welcome ladies and gents!” as part of LGBTQ+ awareness.

We have the opportunity to lead by example and create spaces of respect and inclusion.

We can generate conversations that lead to broader social progress and change.

Enabling Movements

This decade will see a lot of events banding attendees together in demand for impact.

The rise of social media empowers individuals to spread the word and mobilize change.

Motivation to do so has spread like wildfire in contemporary society. Millennials are the first generation to grow up as digital natives.

Catering to all the "Greta Thunbergs" of the world, events will strive to unify people under goal. You want this to reflect the core values and beliefs of your business.

Using events to advertise, support and promote a movement does more than enable positive impact. It's a powerful way to transform a group of then-strangers into a connected community.

With every step in the right direction and every milestone hit, people will feel more eager to be a part of something they built "together."

Event profs can use this shared sense of success to drive passion and leave lasting impressions.

Guest Personalization

Over-stimulation from social media, emails and ads has driven people to search for authentic connections.

With the rapid-fire changes in internet technology and social media, there is also this idea that no one can focus anymore.

This intensifying economy of attention has made its way into all areas of business and life.

Savvy event planners and organizers will use this to drive more personalized experiences. Build better engagement through authenticity.

For example, choosing what to do at an event — especially at a larger scale event — can feel very overwhelming.

Using data to personalize the guest experience and suggest a list of sessions, networking events, keynotes, etc., tailors your event to their interests.

Make your guests feel like they get more value out of attending rather than providing generic bullet points.

How Will It Look?

We can’t imagine life without any challenges, let alone events.

With each of these common challenges in mind, a successful event organizer prepares for the unexpected, ready to adapt, be resilient and get creative to ensure their event is a success.

Rachel Stephan is one part creative, one part entrepreneur, a 4-time mom (sensov/ event marketing, Charlie, award-winning #eventtech snöball event influencer marketing, and Grayson) and an event industry speaker. Rachel helps meeting planners grow their event attendance with results-driven event marketing strategies.