While many expected hybrid events to take a major turn in 2022, onsite events once again proved to be the preferred way how people like to attend events. This year (2023) might be another year of tremendous changes which is why we reached out to some of the most influential people in the event industry and asked them for their own event industry predictions for 2023. Without further ado, let's jump right in and see what 2023 has in store for the event industry and event technology according to some of the most brilliant event professionals.
There are a number of headwinds facing events for 2023: inflation, a potential recession, supply chain issues, planner/supplier staffing challenges, lingering disease jitters, and increasing environmental/sustainability concerns.
On a semi-positive positive note, future event venue bookings appear to be strong. Small meetings are close to 2019 levels although larger event are still lagging a bit. CEIR (Center for Exhibition Industry Research) points to its 2022 Q3 statistics indicating that the exhibition industry continues a strong rebound in the US although still down 22% from 2019. Our industry as also made significant progress with diversity/inclusion issues as well as with some aspects of sustainability.
If we don't have a significant recession, I think we will see continued growth for most in-person event types in 2023. Virtual events will have a significantly larger piece of the event pie in 2023 compared to 2019 with much stronger capabilities and best practices learned. Hybrid events will remain important for some event sectors as planners figure out ways to better manage the increased cost and complexity in doing so.
Event technology has advanced more in the past three years than in the past decade. There has been an unprecedented amount of innovation, funding and best practices learned – especially with virtual and hybrid events but also in analytics, AI, metrics and more. During COVID, society in general had forced digitization (zoom training, online ordering, telemedicine, managing QR codes, etc., etc.) creating more tech-savvy event attendees.
Here are my 2023 event tech predictions:
Relationships will definitely take center stage in 2023. With the increasing cost of services, f&b and AV, being able to find mutually-beneficial arrangements at the negotiation table will come down to mutual respect and trust for one another.
AI (Artificial Intelligence) and NFTs (Non-fungible tokens) are two technologies that could level up our gamification at events. Leaning on AV and lighting to elevate the overall event design will help deliver the "wow" factor that attendees are looking for as they return to events.
The industry will start embracing the idea of hybrid events. I think that hybrid events were really necessary for 2021 because there were still a lot of scares around the pandemic. This year, there's a potential economic downturn, that could be happening as we speak or coming soon which, on the other hand, is a great opportunity for hybrid events as well because people can't afford to travel. But how much do planners even want to commit to the concept of hybrid events?
That's what we will see this year - a proving ground for whether hybrid events are gonna actually be popular and seen in a positive light in the industry. The other thing that's gonna happen this year is that event organizers are really going to have to think about what the actual value is to an attendee. In 2020 during events attendees were craving connection, in 2021 attendees were craving in-person connection and in 2022 they have been to conferences, and maybe concerts and are probably starting to think whether they need to attend an event in person or even whether they should be attending a particular event again.
Therefore, if an event can't drive value and offer an amazing event experience, it is most likely that event won't exist anymore 5 years from now. Many used to think that if you didn't have a hybrid event in the last few years you have already lost attendees, but it is now when people will start evaluating events and say "No" to many of them.
We're gonna see a lot of consolidation probably across the entire industry. I believe that a lot of the venture capital firms that were plummeting money into event tech will now ask for their ROI and if the event tech firms can't deliver that, the investors will probably stop investing.
Moreover, I think there is a lot of really cool stuff going on within the industry like facial recognition and other tech-related things, but it would be better if we did not get too heavily invested in them and rather see the big picture and how it will influence events in the long-run.
The Q3 and 4 of 2022 were wild for many of us eventprofs with the onslaught of in-person events with a few hybrid iterations part of the format. What was different from years prior is the fact that the virtual events have opened the doors for many of us to work outside of our geographical sphere of influence which was great and now that we're back to in p; person, many of these events required much traveling to and from which put quite a bit of a strain on all of us, no wonder by end of 2022 we all felt utterly burned-out and fatigue, in much need of rest and balance. I don't see 2023 changing much from this new direction what will have to change is our eagerness to take on projects that will require us to be on the road at the same level as we did in 2022. Quality event profs will become much more selective in the type of events and projects they take on in 2023, which translates into higher demand for quality planning, management, and production.
Many leading thought leaders in our industry have already predicted the struggle and challenges many event technology platforms will face in the coming months and years unless they can - yet again - adapt incredibly fast to provide the type of in-person support their digital platform could provide event profs as a must-have app at your in-person event either for reg, networking, marketing, additional content needs. They will have to be incredibly nimble, flexible, and easy to use (and somewhat affordable or with an excellent ROI tracked record for any org where pricing is not always the issue) for that to be implemented at the organizational level as well as the attendee level.
In 2023 I think we will see smaller, more frequent, more experiential events with some element of community built into them.
Event tech will play a critical role in the execution of events in 2023. I think we will see more tech providers team up to provide an integrated service to complete the event journey.
I think the events industry will embody the hybrid model in 2023. I don't think 100% of attendees are ready to travel to be on-site for all events so the hybrid model will be widely used. As the year progresses, I hope that people will become more comfortable traveling and being on-site an events will continue to succeed flawlessly.
I think event tech will play a big part in the success of events in 2023. I think the hybrid model, it's not about creating 2 events in 1 (live and virtual) but finding the balance of connecting the in-person and virtual audience with their own unique aspects to make people totally engaged. Events that prove they can handle this will be the ones that 'win' 2023. I can't wait to see what happens!
Finally, we've decided to ask our CEO Kiril Seravall how he envisions the landscape of event industry and technology in 2023 based last year's trends and first-hand interaction with some of the most brilliant event innovators in the world.
Here is what he shared with us:
While 2022 was a fantastic year for the event industry as it finally brought back many onsite events, 2023 will definitely be the year when the event industry will completely stabilize and reach a pre-pandemic number of revenue and onsite events.
Last year many event organizers were hesitant about whether to continue organizing virtual events as they did during the pandemic, whether to go back onsite or whether to embrace hybrid. In 2023, the majority of them will already be certain about which format is the best for their events which is another factor that will contribute to the stabilization of the industry.
Satellite events are another type of event that event organizers will definitely embrace more in 2023. Those are micro-events that serve in conjunction with bigger events in order to increase reach.
People have already seen that event technology truly elevates the entire event ecosystem. For attendees, it means better networking, for sponsors, exhibitors, and partners it means more opportunities for sales and speakers love it because it represents an extended hand when it comes to creating more engagement during sessions.
Augmented reality (AR) has been a hot topic in the event industry for quite some time, however, 2023 might be the year when we start to see more of it incorporated into big events that aim to take networking and engagement to a whole new level.
The event industry has its own duality - on one hand, it is very traditional and prefers to stick to its own ways, on the other hand, if you take a closer look at the last few years the landscape is constantly changing. Hopefully, the trends and predictions about the event industry in 2023 that we listed above will help you prepare your events to meet and exceed the expectations of all participants.
If you are looking for an event companion in terms of event technology, Agorify is here to help. We have 100+ cutting-edge features that can boost your event's revenue and experience.