Report: 8 Trends For Better Events in 2012

December 23, 2011

in Future of Conferences, Reports

During 2011 I’ve organized a couple of events, spoke at 5 or 6 and attended in total more than 20 in 8 different countries, big and small, including international conferences, seminars, meet-ups , gatherings and university lectures. Many are still playing it safe in an industry which is heavily influenced by outdated principles of the pre-internet era. The most fantastic ones, those that made it worth it to be there in flesh and bone, were those outliers that are challenging business as usual and creating new kinds of experiences that attract media , smart crowds and business dollars alike.

This report presents the eight most relevant trends from those events that are shaping the industry for better and how you can use them in your own conference. Consider it a Christmas present :-)


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Please share your feedback and the trends that you’ve spotted in the comments below!

The 8 Trends For Better Events in 2012 is sponsored by Eventbrite

  • Dave malouf

    My only disagreement is on sacrificing catering.
    A conference organizer is a host, like bringing someone into your home. Way too often food & beverage are after thoughts and/or charged extra. This is the airline’s approach and one that people resent. Catering should be a part of #8. A memorial part of the experience that people talk about. While skimping on swag is good, skimping on catering in my mind is always in super bad taste.

    • Gianfranco Chicco

      Thanks David. The point is not so much about sacrificing food but finding an alternative for making events more viable for both the organizer and the attendee. I’m not saying that conferences that charge 1,000 USD/Euro should do this. 

      There are many events out there with low ticket prices where the organizers have difficulties in compromising on paying 50,000 USD to the catering company, which they might never recover by selling tickets. If that event is happening in the middle of a city, there are probably many alternatives out there for people to eat (unlike airplanes where it’s their food or whatever you were allowed to bring on board). 

      I’m thinking of the wonderful Story Conference in London, which I attended this year. The event costs 45 pounds and takes place in a small theatre. Amazing content, amazing people. For that price and that value, I din’t mind walking a few blocks with other fellow attendees to have a bit and be back one hour or so after.

      I’ve seen several events, especially non for profit ones, struggle with this thing. Between an event with little food or no event at all, I surely choose the former.

      Same with coffee… At a fancy event I used to organize in Italy, a few individuals in a 2,000 pax crowd complained that the coffee was not good as that you can have in many bars in Milan (doh)! In big events like this one you just cannot be making individual espressos in real time, so you usually prepare what they call “american coffee”.  The solution would have been to offer that same coffee and then have a booth where he could pay for a premium one… actually what happened is that a few years later we had a coffee maker sponsor, so at his booth he served for free that coffee (long line). Most people ended up drinking the one we were offering.

      • Dave malouf

        Yes, definitely lots of different contexts to consider. I like the Euro one as well. In the end it is always about balance, but I agree w/ the notion that “content is king” when it comes to conferences, but in a competitive and highly discriminating context experience in total is definitely high up on the totem pole.

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