In the digital world of teleconferences, remote working, and email, live events are the much-needed touch point that can make all the difference in uniting your group. In-person events are no longer considered additional activities. Rather, they’ve become vital anchor points to bring teams together to focus on a common goal, giving a whole new importance to your event planning and strategy.

Event trends are just as susceptible to becoming outdated as fashion, technology, and design. That’s the pitfall (and also the beauty) of being part of a digital society that never stops searching for the new and improved. There’s always something new to learn.

And quite frankly, it’s expensive.

Staying on top of event trends usually means investing in new equipment, marketing, materials, etc. For many, it’s like starting from scratch for every event.

Technology fades quickly these days. These four event planning trends for 2018 and beyond can help you keep your events cutting edge so you’re not reinventing your wheel every time (at least not for several years):

1) Add Value and Impact to Every Aspect

Smartphones, tiny homes, smart home devices – people are determined to get as much purpose and function out of everything these days, including events.

The value you promise shouldn’t just come in the form of the content you deliver. Consider how you can embed value into every aspect of every occasion.

For example, you might provide attendees with branded swag they’ll be able to use during the event. Name tags might contain an event itinerary on the other side.

No area is too insignificant for you to boost its impact. Doing so can help you create a more rounded, all-encompassing experience that leaves a lasting impact on your attendees.

2) Focus on Engagement-Inducing Measures

Your event has a specific purpose. You want your attendees to squeeze as much of every minute as possible. Passive attendees won’t reap nearly as many benefits as those who are actively participating.

But how to do you induce participation when you’re focusing on speeches and pamphlets?

For starters, your guest speakers may be headlining your event, but they shouldn’t be the whole event. Save time for brain breaks and networking opportunities. Make sure your speakers allow time for Q&A’s. Have them ask the audience questions during their presentations. Create handouts or other collateral to help your audience follow along.

In addition, you should consider incorporating other elements that capture attention from the five senses: sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch.

For example, you might use a scent machine to create a pleasant smell throughout your event space. There’s an entire psychology on scent and how it affects the brain and retention, and it’s an easy way to make a lasting impression.

You might include activities or displays that require hands-on interaction. Include textures where appropriate, such as collateral material or other handouts.

Background music, visual elements, and multi-sensory activities like VR stations can also help engage the senses.

3) Empower Diversity

Thinking outside the box will never go out of style, but how far outside that box are you willing to venture?

Most event planners focus on the niche industry itself and find speakers, activities, and other facets that complement that industry. But you’ll find that bringing in someone (or something) from the outside can provide the fresh approach you need to spark creative, innovative engagement.

Use the influence of someone outside your industry to offer a new perspective. When you can use your event to inspire, every attendee can walk away with something they didn’t arrive with.

4) Use Your Event to Benefit More than the Attendees

Leveraging your event as a chance to give back to your community will never go out of style, regardless of your event’s primary purpose. Asking attendees to bring a canned food item or donating a portion of merchandise sales to a charity never seem out of place and can give you some positive PR fuel.

In addition, you might consider how you can include a charitable aspect to achieve your event’s purpose.

For example, if you’re hosting a team building event for your employees, you might opt for an activity that benefits a local charity rather than having a typical getting-to-know-you session. You’ll still be learning valuable communication and collaboration skills, but your efforts will also benefit others in your community.

There are plenty of ways to use your event to give back to others. The better you can tie them into your main purpose, the more impactful your efforts.

What Does Your Event Planning for 2018 Look Like?

Let’s face it: event planning is hard enough, not to mention the added stress of getting your money’s worth out of it. Add in the fact that you’ve got to impress your guests by not resorting to outdated techniques and tired technology. You do want them to remember your event for all the right reasons, right?

Just remember that when it comes to technology, the only thing that stays the same is the fact that innovation happens. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use the latest and greatest tech in your event planning. But focusing on evergreen elements can help take the stress out of planning for years to come.

Author: Benjamin Shepardson is a web development guru and founder of https://lakeviewstudios.com. As the company’s leader, Ben brings to the table an innate ability to help small businesses compete with larger competitors through content strategies and SEO.