10 Corporate Event Trends of 2017

When planning your next corporate event, it might be helpful to know what trends we have seen this year. Maybe you want to be a trendsetter? In that case, use this as a guide for what to do differently or enjoy this as a How-to Guide for being of-the-moment.

Some of these trends will likely last into the future and become more a part of the fabric of the event industry (such as advances in technology) and others, such as the trends in food, style and design, will fizzle and evolve.

1. New Technology (tablets / apps)

 
Using phone & tablet technology and apps can streamline the event for everyone.

Using phone & tablet technology and apps can streamline the event for everyone.

 

Technology is now constantly at our fingertips. Almost 70 % of the American population is now in possession of a smartphone or tablet. So it should come as no shock that the event industry has embraced new technologies to make event planning and execution simpler, more streamlined, and more socially engaging. This trend will probably last and continue to evolve well through the 21st century. As our connectedness becomes even more embedded in our everyday lives, it will become more integrated into our events, as well. Explore lots of new apps available for events on iOS or Android devices. 

2. Custom cocktails & branded desserts

 
This cocktail, the Independence Sparkler, was used to promote both the brand of vodka (a sponsor company), the 4th of July holiday of the event and the charity it promoted. Genius! 

This cocktail, the Independence Sparkler, was used to promote both the brand of vodka (a sponsor company), the 4th of July holiday of the event and the charity it promoted. Genius! 

 

Innovations and trends in food and wine are an integral part of the evolution of the event industry. Customized, on-brand cocktails and food are no exception to this. In 2016 we've seen a lot of signature tipples named after the event, an aspect of the event theme or a person of honor. Likewise, having a snack (cupcakes and donuts have been particularly popular so far this year) emblazoned with logos or brand colors is a delicious way to keep attendees curious and satiated. 

3. Industrial vintage & bohemian style

 
Very bohemian, very chic, very 2016

Very bohemian, very chic, very 2016

 

Perhaps it's the influence of festivals like Coachella or maybe more millennials are coming of age and entering positions of power. Maybe it's a fondness for their parents' and grandparents' experiences, but vintage, industrial, and bohemian aesthetic has saturated the events market this year. We've seen an awful lot of Edison bulbs, reclaimed wood, industrial vintage materials like iron and antiqued brass and more bohemian modern elements dominate the aesthetic in 2016. It's a trend toward things that feel softer, more relaxed, and more authentic.

4. Interactive food & drink stations

 
What could be better than a DIY s'mores station? 

What could be better than a DIY s'mores station? 

 

Getting, and keeping, your audience engaged in your events is a constant challenge. Interactive food stations is one inventive way we've seen events become more user-friendly this year. Mashed potato bars, make your own grilled cheese, design-your-own sundae tables--you name it--if you can customize it yourself, people are doing it. It's a great way to interact with other guests and to enjoy something delicious. 

5. Sustainable details

 
Sustainably-minded outdoor furniture company Kettal used living "house" features in their showcase event and subsequently made it a feature of their design and advertising campaign, as well. 

Sustainably-minded outdoor furniture company Kettal used living "house" features in their showcase event and subsequently made it a feature of their design and advertising campaign, as well. 

 

The more audiences become aware of climate change and environmental degradation, the more companies and organizations have to steer their events in a sustainable direction. Events can create enormous waste streams, so finding ways to curb the consumption is critical. Everything from green features, reusable set-ups, compostable containers, to low-output lighting seem to be on the upswing in 2016. No doubt, as concerns about the future of the planet become more pressing, innovations in ecologically-sensitive event production will become even more advanced. 

6. Lounging and Relaxation

 
Lounge set up shown here for a corporate retreat event.

Lounge set up shown here for a corporate retreat event.

 

Events can be stressful and tiring for everyone. Giving attendees a place to relax has been a trend for the last few years and this brilliant idea shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. It's become de rigeur to have a lounge or cocktail area for guests to decompress from all the activity. A few conferences and events have gone beyond just a lounge space and created meditation rooms, yoga classes, and even sound therapy to help people stay balanced. 

7. Branding with lighting and color

 
A great example of lighting and color to reinforce branding at an X-Box promo event. 

A great example of lighting and color to reinforce branding at an X-Box promo event. 

 

This trend has only gotten stronger in 2016 when "branding" has become not just a buzzword but a critical element of any event plan. Reinforcing the messaging of your event (the sponsoring brand, the charity, the purpose) can come through all different mediums but light and color are essential visual aspects of event success. It will be interesting to see how color and light trends evolve into the next year and beyond.

8. GUEST ENGAGEMENT

 
At the Kate Spade x Cheree Berry collaboration celebration event, guests were encouraged to "Take A Chance" with Kate Spade "dares" like  eat cake for breakfast, smile at strangers, & sing outside the shower.  Guests were also invited to write their own and put them in the envelopes for others. 

At the Kate Spade x Cheree Berry collaboration celebration event, guests were encouraged to "Take A Chance" with Kate Spade "dares" like eat cake for breakfast, smile at strangers, & sing outside the shower. Guests were also invited to write their own and put them in the envelopes for others. 

 

As with the interactive food trend, events are becoming more user-oriented in general. Interacting with setups and adding personal touches makes the attendees feel they've had an experience and taken a journey, not just attended a party, fundraiser or generic conference. Giving them a chance to make their mark is very big this year and for good reason. It's meaningful and fun. 

9. LESS FORMALITY, MORE FUN

 
An Instagram-ready "photo booth" at the Veuve Cliquot Polo Classic Event

An Instagram-ready "photo booth" at the Veuve Cliquot Polo Classic Event

 

Speaking of fun...Who doesn't love to let loose a little? Thankfully, in this decade, we've seen corporate events go from drab to FAB. It's so much more enjoyable to feel there is an element of levity, than to feel you're just attending yet another dull corporate function. The lighthearted elements also often go a long way to building the social media machine, as users feel so much more inclined to share enjoyable moments on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and Snapchat. The momentum of social media is very 2016...and we imagine 2017, as well. 

10. SHOWSTOPPER MOMENTS

 
Designer Phillip Johnson designed an installation of over 30,000 individually crocheted poppies for the 2016 Chelsea Flower Show in the UK. 

Designer Phillip Johnson designed an installation of over 30,000 individually crocheted poppies for the 2016 Chelsea Flower Show in the UK. 

 

Think Lady Gaga's meat dress or Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction at the Superbowl Halftime show or anything Beyonce does--showstoppers. Even years ago, as most of these things were, you still know what we mean immediately. These are the unprecedented things people talk about for weeks, moments that go viral, inspire a thousand memes. Moments that events in 2016 are aiming for. Everyone wants to outdo themselves from last year. Show-stopping moments don't have to be grand--they just need to be unique and memorable. This kind of momentum might be hard to sustain over time which is why we think this trend is just that. For now, though, we are enjoying the extraordinary. 

 

AS YOU PLAN EVENTS FOR WHAT'S LEFT OF 2016, WE HOPE YOU'LL USE THESE TRENDS AS INSPIRATION TO MAKE YOUR EVENTS AS AMAZING AS POSSIBLE. NEED HELP EXECUTING AN EXTRAORDINARY EVENT? GIVE US A CALL. WE CAN DO ANYTHING YOU CAN DREAM UP. 

Karen AlgerComment