As we head into the New Year, many event professionals are studying event trends and predictions. Many are already predicting a year of change and disruption.
Competition’s rising, budgets are tightening, and technology’s evolving. Staying at the front of the event industry will be harder than ever.
But don’t worry, we’ve got your back.
We’ve collected the most important virtual event trends for 2023. You can explore industry-wide, hybrid, and virtual event trends below.
Let’s dive into the future trends in event planning!
Industry-wide event trends 2023
1) Events are more than lead-generating engines. In 2023, they’ll span the entire buyer’s journey
For years, marketing teams used events as simple lead-generation machines. Event attendees went in, and MQLs came out. But here’s the thing. Events can (and should) do so much more.
That’s where event-led growth comes in. We’ve shown how the events can contribute across the entire user journey.
- Discover: Building brand awareness and affinity among the problem or brand unaware by creating valuable and memorable experiences
- Engage: Engaging buyers and warm prospects to realize the value you deliver faster and become life-long customers
- Grow: Growing affinity and advocacy among your customers and community members
If you’re still using events as simple lead gen engines in 2023, you will get left behind.
2) Return-on-emotion will become a standard metric
Until now, event marketers focused on driving business outcomes. But in 2023, the event industry will get a lot more emotional.
Emotional marketing is all about creating an emotional connection with your audience. It’s about speaking to their needs, desires, and goals.
According to Omar Jenblat’s (founder of digital agency BusySeed) deep dive into virtual event marketing trends, “Consumers who are emotionally connected to a brand are worth two times more to a business than the average.”
Primarliy, there are five emotions that drive an event’s success — hopefulness, adventure, activeness, acceptance, and motivation. By invoking these emotions, organizers can build meaningful connections with the audience, in turn driving a better return on their investment.
3) One-off events are gone. Say hello to a year-long event calendar
Remember when corporate event trends led companies to run one or two mega-events per year? They poured money into one big splash and hoped that it would create opportunities.
That’s the old way. Future trends in event planning suggest that the old strategy isn’t fit for purpose in 2023.
Event pros are already designing year-long event calendars. Instead of cramming everything into one mega-event, they’re using smaller, more targeted events to guide buyers down the funnel toward conversion.
Stop thinking of events as one-off activities. Instead, start building continuous threads of conversation and engagement.
4) Want greater impact? Focus on event marketing and sales alignment
Most marketing and sales teams are at loggerheads. Sales wants revenue, and marketing wants brand love. Coming into 2023, corporate event trends suggest alignment will make or break your event strategy.
To build a strong alliance between sales and marketing, prioritize the 3 Ds:
- Dashboards: To work together, you have to speak the same language. Communication is everything when it comes to relationship building.
- Definitions: Know your data. If one team is looking at one set of numbers and another team a different set, then you’re never going to be on the same page.
- Disqualifications: Define your ICP and standardize the definition across your entire company.
Consider this your wake-up call. The future of in-person, virtual, and hybrid events is sales-marketing alignment.
5) Event marketing roles are evolving
The traditional role of the event professional is changing. In the past, their job was to generate leads for sales. But as events become more strategic, so too must the event marketer.
One of the most important virtual and hybrid event marketing trends tracks the evolution of event professionals.
Old event professionals had a narrow focus and a small group of collaborators. Following today’s corporate event trends, event professionals will operate across the entire customer journey. They’ll see the bigger picture, unite different functions, and turn every event into an experience.
6) Attendee-first events will be the winners
In 2023, the war for buyer attention will intensify. Attracting buyers to your events is only going to get harder.
To stand out, you have to create incredible attendee-first experiences.
Attendee-first means prioritizing your event attendees above ROI, pipeline, and leads. It’s your attendees’ event, you’re just hosting it. With the future of virtual events, you win when your attendees win.
7) Generate impact before, during, and after events
Events are big investments. They take weeks, months, or even years to plan. They cost thousands, maybe millions, of dollars to run. While old-school events made a big splash on the day, they created very few ripples.
But that’s all changing.
Event professionals are repurposing events into “content confetti.” Here are some confetti ideas from Airmeet’s CMO, Mark Kilens:
- Short YouTube videos from speakers curated into a playlist
- A course with several classes from the sessions
- Blog posts for the sessions that got the most engagement
- Turn the questions and comments into blog posts
- Create podcast episodes from the best audio clips
- Build a mini-email course with different micro-lessons from each session
- Use the attendee engagement data (polls, Q&A, most talked topics) to write a post-event recap blog
8) Committees will create the best event experiences
The days of the lone event marketer are long gone. Future trends in event planning point to event planning committees taking over.
Cross-functional committees bring together different perspectives, ideas, and insights. They promote alignment and collaboration.
Don’t tackle event planning alone. Recruit the best people from across your org and elevate your event planning.
Virtual event trends 2023
9) Match event types to audiences — or risk boring your attendees
But aligning all three things is easier said than done.
According to Forrester’s report on virtual events trends, here’s how marketers are using trade shows, webinars, and networking events:
10) Event tech will unlock immersive virtual networking
Humans are social animals. It’s baked into our DNA. In the past, virtual events have done a bad job of connecting people with people. Networking was clunky. Breakout rooms were full of awkward silences.
But virtual events trends in 2023 point to change.
Improved virtual event platforms have made networking effortless and enjoyable again. For example, Airmeet offers fluid spaces, virtual lounges, and session chats to bring people together.
11) Attendees will expect more from virtual events
Another significant event trend is rising attendee expectations. Just one-third say virtual events are engaging. Fewer say virtual events feel unique. They want more value, more intimacy, and more engagement. And they want it all without sacrificing the quality of the event experience.
In the past, features like on-demand content, easy networking, and online commerce were all “nice to haves.” But coming into 2023, they’re firmly in the “need to have” category.
Today’s attendees might tolerate a mediocre event experience. But tomorrow’s attendees won’t. To keep up with virtual event marketing trends, put your attendees at the heart of everything you do.
Empower your attendees to network in a more human and natural way. Enable them to take home connections, knowledge, and memories.
12) Virtual event content will compete with Netflix
If you made a list of your competitors, who’d be on it? Maybe some industry rivals? Or all the companies offering the same service?
What about Amazon and Netflix? Or Hulu? Or TikTok?
Today’s audiences are spoiled. There are so many entertainment options that it’s hard to get their attention. Although it might feel strange to say a B2B company is competing with the latest Stranger Things season… it is.
According to virtual event marketing trends, the best events in 2023 will replicate Netflix’s playbook: relatable stories, superb production, strong storytelling, and binge-worthy content.
13) Event tech will play matchmaker
In the past, virtual events have been all about one-to-many relationships. That’s partly due to underdeveloped matchmaking engines, but also a lack of empathy for users. Coming into 2023, that’s changing.
Next year, attendee-to-attendee match-making will be a big focus.
This will be made possible by advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Instead of laborious manual matching, algorithms will scan attendee lists and connect people based on shared interests, sectors, and locations.
14) Goodbye one-size-fits-all agenda. Hello, personalized event tracks
When you log into Netflix, you see a curated list of shows and categories. Your home screen’s unique because it’s based on your unique interests. Increasingly, attendees expect personalization in their events.
Attendees want experiences tailored to their specific needs and interests. And they want the ability to customize their experience.
In the past, event marketers could get away with a one-size-fits-all approach. But in 2023, that won’t cut it. Event organizers can use registration forms to offer personalized session suggestions and leverage event data to personalize follow-up emails.
15) Attendees want environmentally friendly events
In the past, asking tens of thousands of people to fly across the country (or even across continents) for a one- or two-day event felt normal.
Now? Not so much.
Attendees are more environmentally conscious. Yes, they want to attend events… but not at the cost of the planet.
Event organizers must align their strategies with their attendees’ beliefs and preferences. Will organizations host in-person events? Probably. But we predict more event planners will move away toward more sustainable hybrid events or virtual event alternatives.
16) We’ll see more experiments with 3D, AR, and VR
For years, we’ve heard that new 3D, AR, and VR are poised to revolutionize events. Finally, we’re going to see it happen. Cheap headsets like the Meta Quest have opened up a ton of commercial possibilities. One of the most exciting 2023 event trends is the rapid proliferation of 3D, AR, and VR tech.
Expect engaging product demos, immersive virtual tours, and a whole host of exciting new experiments.
17) Live Translation
Virtual events solve a major challenge for companies — overcoming physical barriers to reach a global audience. However, the language barrier is yet to be solved fully. In future, live translation to multiple languages would allow companies to reach global audiences without any hiccups.
Hybrid event trends 2023
18) Hybrid events will gain market share
We’ve talked about the future of virtual events, but what about hybrid events?
Three-quarters of event planners say there will be more hybrid events in the future. This is because they offer the best of both worlds––the flexibility and reach of a virtual event with the personal connection of an in-person event.
19) Data will replace guesswork
As hybrid events platforms mature, expect a torrent of new attendee data. As well as improving event experiences, that data will also bolster performance measurement and reporting.
20) Technology will drive greater accessibility
Hybrid events will become more accessible than ever in 2023. Event planners will be able to leverage robust virtual event platforms to deploy automatic captioning and translation services. These services will make events accessible to audiences around the world.
Additionally, virtual reality technology will also be used to create more accessible events, allowing people with disabilities and impairments to participate in the event experience fully.
Future trends in event planning
The event space never stands still for long. Looking back at 2022 event trends predictions, so much changed through the year. Just as before, the in-person, hybrid, and virtual events trends we predicted now will evolve through 2023.
When you’re planning your strategy for the next six or 12 months, remember to stay receptive and agile. Keep your ear to the ground. Listen for new event planning trends. Test new ideas and keep your event planning strategy ahead of your competition.