Can you believe it? It’s 2022! And what better way to kick off a new year than with an event tech predictions episode? As our most loyal listeners know, Will and Brandt love to make educated guesses about the events industry. From evaluating what Starlink might mean for the events industry to brainstorming about facial recognition technology, they never shy away from having a heated discussion about the future.
Will and Brandt are joined by a regular guest on the Event Tech Podcast: Endless’ very own Kyle Kocinski. As the mastermind behind the top 22 event platforms to use in 2022, he has a great grasp of where things are going in the ever-evolving world of event technology. Get excited: this episode is a bit longer than usual!
Event Tech Predictions For 2022: A Note On The Pandemic
Before they dive deep into event tech predictions for 2022, they need to get the issue of the pandemic out of the way. “Both the pandemic and the environment need you to continue with a virtual format,” says Kyle. “Maybe scale your in-person event and make it smaller. It’s all about bringing the event to more of your attendees, to those who are unable or unwilling to travel. It’s all about bringing more people together without as much risk.”
“I agree,” says Will. “The virtual-first mantra is going to continue. The uncertainty is real. If I wrote my event trends guide in like November, I would not have guessed that CES would not have happened this year, for example.”
Brandt lays down the facts. “If you choose to go forward with a fully in-person event, you need to understand that you might have to cancel your event. Your options are fully in-person (but be prepared to cancel it or push it out), a hybrid event, or a fully digital event.”
“People who already have three shots are still getting infected. And that’s the scary part,” adds Kyle. “After two years of the pandemic, there’s still no real definition of a super spreader event. Is that a certain percentage of who get infected at your event? Is that spreading from beyond those who attend your event to their actual communities where they live?”
Now that they’ve addressed the pandemic, the event tech trio can talk about what they came to discuss: event tech predictions for 2022. Brandt goes first. “We’re going to continue to see a growth market in tracking apps. How do we collect vaccination and testing information?”
Indirectly connected to tracking apps is the resurgence of event bots. “We’ll see them both at in-person and online events,” says Brandt. “Just because we’re not going to be there in person, that doesn’t mean that little chat box isn’t going to be just as helpful.”
Data Privacy & Community
Will’s first event tech prediction for 2022 is enhanced data privacy. “We’ve been talking about data privacy for several years now. But now, with what’s going on with Facebook, people for the first time don’t want a company to ruin their data. They don’t want someone tracking everything about them. This idea of private data management is coming to the public discourse, and we’ve always wanted that as tech nerds and private-centric people.”
“Everyone’s boycotting Facebook now,” he continues. “And one of the biggest components of Facebook is Facebook groups. People want to come together around niche topics and have these conversations. Well, there’s a great opportunity for communities to come in.”
Before he lets Kyle take the wheel and talk more about the community model, Will explains how event tech platforms are changing their business model. “So many event tech companies and event tech platforms have grown so much that they’ve gained the attention of venture capital firms. And those companies want recurring, guaranteed revenue. If your entire client base is based on people who have an event in six months, but might disappear and never come back, you’re not exactly the Netflix or the Disney+ that’s constantly bringing money in. So what these event platforms are starting to do is offer annual subscriptions. What they’ll do instead is change their platforms to be community platforms.”
This brings us to the next event tech prediction for 2022: 365 community model. “Bringing your events into a community allows for all of your attendees, sponsors, or vendors to play a bigger storyline in your overall event strategy. They can see why they’re a part of your event. You’re not just having them come to a one-off event. You’re having them come back, ask questions, and contribute to ideas for content. Your attendees are now playing a role in the story rather than just watching it.”
“Alex Lindsay’s Office Hours is a perfect example of this trend,” agrees Brandt. And it’s not all that complicated. “All they’re using are Zoom and Discord. These are not incredibly expensive things, but the community that they’re putting together there is the cream of the crop of media production and live streaming. Everybody’s learning from everybody.”
“This idea of community fits so many different things that we’ve been talking about for the last two years. Audience engagement, too, is all about community,” Brandt adds. “It’s about making people feel like a part of an event rather than having to sit there and listen to a PowerPoint presentation.”
Shorter Sessions For The Win!
“We’re so used to being talked to. One of the predictions for 2022 I see is making the sessions shorter – whether you’re choosing a community format, virtual-only, or in-person only,” adds Kyle. “Even if you don’t have the money to make your creative look like Apple’s keynotes presentations, you can still make high-quality content. Bring in key speakers and showcase the attendees’ questions that they have in a format that we’ve been so used to with virtual.”
“Don’t just do it for the sake of doing it, though,” warns Brandt. “You have to give your community real value.”
Kyle suggests a clever way to get your community going. “An entryway to get your attendees to join your community is bundling this 365 community with whatever event ticket is being purchased the most. Add some value to that one ticket price. They’re now getting a value where they can now continue the conversation year-round. And they’re getting all this value, but just paying it upfront.”
What started in the events industry of 2021 is going to continue this year. “In 2022, we’re going to see an acceleration of mergers and acquisitions,” says Brandt. “There’s so much money now in the event space. More and more companies are going to try and rival Cvent as the one-stop shop. I think there will be four or five players that are the one-stop shop and that is going to happen in 2022.”
He shares a personal favorite merger. “The one acquisition that I’m like actually really excited about is Zoom purchasing Liminal. Liminal is a small company that created a couple of programs that just dive deep into the API. Zoom has brought them into the engineering team on the events side. That tells me they’re paying attention to production.”
Let’s Not Forget About NFTs & Health!
After talking some more about the Metaverse (it’s not going to explode in 2022 just yet) and VR (event planners have to at least try it out this year), the Event Tech Podcast crew starts running out of time.
Kyle mentions one final prediction. This trend is happening in sports already and it’s bound to move to corporate meeting space, too. “The Jacksonville Jaguars just announced that with each purchased game ticket, the attendee will receive a commemorative ticket as an NFT to the game. I think that’s fascinating. Planners are rarely sending out swag or actual tangible items at virtual events. Incorporating collectibles, such as an NFT, enables you to collect and show how many years have you been attending this conference.”
And last but not least, Brandt mentions wellness in events, “both mental and physical”. “As we continue to come out of this thing, I think a lot more folks are paying attention to health. I’m going to call that a continued trend, if not a renewed interest.”
As the year goes by, Will and Brandt will undoubtedly return to these 2022 predictions and see just how right or wrong they were at the time of the recording of the episode. If you think they’ve forgotten about any groundbreaking event tech trends, reach out to them via email or social – they’ll be glad to hear what you think!