Hannah Sheppard rounds up three trends we can expect to see at B2B events in the year ahead
1. Detoxes promoting mindful use of technology
It’s a decade since social media became mainstream and now usage for many people is getting out of control. So much so, that many brands are offering their employees courses on ‘how to kick social media’ (albeit some of these are online) and not-for-profit organisations have sprung up to support our return to the ‘analogue’ world.
The companies we work in and interact with on a daily basis are embracing digital technology to help achieve efficiencies and cost savings, that’s essential to their survival and an example of the mindful use of technology. But at a micro, individual level, people are starting to become more aware of the mindless use of technology – in particular social media – and opting for a digital detox. This is fuelling one of the biggest trends in bespoke B2B event production – digital detox parties. And it’s ironic given that sharing event experiences is such a big part of what happens on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.
The detox party theme is ideal for high-growth, high-performance cultures found in start-ups and scale-up businesses, where business is conducted at lightening speeds and the pace of work can be overwhelming. It’s a chance to reconnect with colleagues or customers and share quality time, away from devices and distractions. We started seeing this transition earlier in 2018, with B2B clients interested in hosting summer digital detox parties for employees and business partners. They wanted to give teams a chance to reconnect over back-to-basics fun and emphasise the importance of mental wellbeing and creating a good work/life balance.
Importantly these events are simpler, often with small teams and no expensive catering. Rather than guests taking selfies constantly, they will include a discreet photographer to capture the important moments allowing people to really be present.
2. Extravangance is out, understated style is in
Another big trend for 2019 will be the expectation for businesses to be more socially responsible in terms of the way they spend on events and them having a wider purpose. For a lot of the market, overly ostentatious events, just for the sake of being extravagant, are out. Instead, they are being replaced with a much simpler, more understated style, based around the idea that ‘less is definitely more’.
Greater thought will go into the planning stages, with people trying to deliver an underlying message and maybe make a social or environmental statement – digital detox can be part of this too. Brands will want to take their guests on a ‘journey’ and try to evoke their emotions. It makes the whole event experience that bit more memorable and is a very powerful way to get guests talking about it for days afterwards.
3. Year of the brunch
With more people practicing intermittent fasting than ever, food formats at business events are set to have their biggest shakeup for many years. Brunches are already a big part of our weekend lives and now set to become more popular than ever. Forget business breakfasts and working lunches, the brunch meeting is going to be really big in 2019, especially for brand activation events.
Creating a brunch experience feels really fresh at the moment and fits perfectly with another big event trend – making food part of the overall concept. We’re expecting to offer much more active, live food experiences rather than serving pre-prepared catering, as people have become more knowledgeable about food provenance, health conscious and adventurous. Think pop-up style catering, offering ultra-fresh sushi, salads, smoothies, burritos and freshly baked (free from) treats.
Once the realm of niche fashion brands, the bigger players and mainstream business brands are quickly getting in on the brunch act – it’s a perfect opportunity to push your brand or message to the forefront of guests’ minds, with a very memorable experience.