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The Hottest Trends on the 2012 Event Scene

By Roxanne Rukowicz Ladd, Principal
Behind the Scenes Events

The holiday season afforded me a moment of downtime, allowing for the opportunity to review and critique 2011, take a deep breath, and think about what’s coming in 2012.

I am excited about what I see coming this year. Even though fears of an ongoing recession, and increased government regulations, will keep spending for meetings and events at reduced levels, innovation and creativity will rise to new levels.

Here’s what you are likely to see at the most successful affairs of 2012:

Spending: Clients will continue to be ever-vigilant to ensure they are receiving the best value for their money. Calculated investments in grand affairs by larger corporations and nonprofits will also continue to occur as hosts seek to raise big fundraising dollars or exponentially increase brand visibility. But, on the whole, the number of these events will not increase greatly.

Venues: Although larger venues and hotels will always have a guaranteed clientele due to sheer capacity, we will see an increase in unique and “pop-up” venues in 2012, as those entities with access to unique office or gallery space, large homes or gardens, see the revenue-generating possibilities in offering them up for private or corporate rentals. Remember, all you need is a blank canvas to create an event, and many new venues are getting in on the game (although the general wear and tear on the space may not keep them in it for long).

Food: The bounty of food that we normally see at events won’t change much in 2012—but their presentations and preparations will. Family-style seated meals will replace dated buffets as will smaller plates that offer guests more variety. The farm-to-table trend will also continue in earnest, with ever more thoughtful seasonal presentations, many of which will feature comfort foods with a creative, artisanal twist.

Entertainment: Although live musical entertainment will never go out of style, planners will seek creative ways to keep guests engaged and meeting-and-greeting in ever-new venues and styles. Networking receptions will be held at art galleries, museums, or other interactive venues; conference-goers will interact through social gaming; and team-building events will find participants at photo scavenger hunts, geo-caching, or taking in local attractions.

Social Media: Opportunities continue to abound with social media when used thoughtfully and purposefully to share messages and promote events. The key is to customize the message specific to the chosen mediums, adjusting for the target demographics. Savvy organizations will embrace the possibilities of utilizing social media, from HootSuite to You Tube, to educate consumers, engage potential guests, and increase brand visibility.

Technology: A tremendous number of outlets are available (or becoming available in 2012) to streamline planner productivity, help organizations expand their reach across the miles, and engage guests in a fun and cost-effective way. Planners will also enjoy an increase in online and mobile collaboration tools and databases that help them locate and connect with venues, as well as tools to assist with building floor plans, keeping lists, and more. Meeting professionals will engage more with video conferencing and live-streaming tools to broaden their reach to expert speakers and panelists whose travel schedule no longer needs to prohibit participation. The same goes for live streaming of events and programs either for a fee or as a courtesy to those who cannot otherwise attend in person.

Opportunities Abound

The New Year will also see an increase in customized apps to assist with onsite registration, auction bidding, and more. From iPads, tablets, and handheld bidding tools, guests will see reduced lines, time saved, and an added element of fun with these do-it-yourself tech add-ons.

So if you are a developer, don’t miss this trend. There is money to be made.

Needless to say, 2012 will be full of opportunities for those planners and organizations seeking to raise funds, engage their networks, and create memorable events.

Here’s to a memorable and successful year to all!

About Roxanne Rukowicz Ladd

Ranked one of the top meeting and event planners in Washington, DC, for 2009, 2010, and 2011 by the Washington Business Journal, Roxanne Rukowicz Ladd’s Behind the Scenes Events, opened its doors in July 2008. Her goal is to offer organizations and individuals access to affordable, full-service meeting and event-planning solutions.

Ladd has worked in the DC meeting and event industry for more than a decade, starting her career in 1999 at the Greater Washington Board of Trade.

Her extensive association and nonprofit planning skills are accented by experience working in the social and entertainment markets. Positions with the Walt Disney Companies and as a freelance wedding and special-event coordinator give her experience with A-list celebrity clients and top-ranking government officials.

For more information, visit Behind the Scenes Events.