The best and worst trends in the event industry

We asked meeting and event planners to share their thoughts on the best new trends, and the worst trends of the year. They share excellent thoughts on the ever-evolving tools, styles and activities planners employ.


Sarah Sebastian with Rose Gold Collective loves the trend of using unique venue spaces as meeting spaces. “I am seeing more and more companies and brands seeking unexpected venues to host meetings in. Many companies strive to keep their employees engaged and offer a surprise and delight when it comes to venues, and let’s face it, we can only get so excited over another ballroom with no windows,” said Sarah.

Companies like Space in the Raw offer planners access to a curated collection of non-traditional venues and vacant real estate for large corporate meetings or events.

Sebastian is also a fan of the integration of wellness into meetings. “Wellness isn't a trend, it is a movement, and companies understand that it goes hand in hand with their messaging.” Most conferences are now including wellness elements into their schedules, whether it’s a yoga or run before the conference, subtly offering healthier food options during breaks, or mid-day energy re-charges. Nap pods are also showing up in event foot prints. In addition, speakers can be added to the agenda to integrate the discussion around work life balance and overall wellness techniques. 

Technology integration is the third trend Sebastian appreciates. “We can't deny that technology is evolving every second and it has had many benefits and products that are applicable to the success of an event.” Event apps have been a staple for years but Artificial Intelligence or AI integration into the registration process can speed up event check-in as facial recognition technology knows who has arrived at the conference. RFID and Beacon technology has become a very useful and impactful way to understand the flow of your event, where guests congregate and can provide feedback to the venue and planners, and get information seamlessly to participants.

For Sarah Donawerth with Mingle, an event and party planning magazine, the best trend is making an effort to make parties cozier than ever. With the latest trend of Hygge sweeping the internet, party planners are realizing the significance of giving partygoers a fun, relaxed, and comfortable experience. Adding couches so that guests have a place to rest, or giving party favors that guests can actually use, like slippers for achy feet after hours of dancing, or blankets at a movie night. 

According to John Macaluso at NJ Wedding and Event Center, flower walls are super trendy and make for beautiful backdrops.

Amy Orr with Orrganized Events appreciates the continued trend of participants finding continued value in face-to-face meetings. “I’m seeing higher rates and more limited space this year and next from our hotel partners. While this reflects a challenge for budget-conscious clients, it actually is a positive trend showing that meetings and events, and general travel is strong in this economy,” said Orr.

For Mark Deane with ETS Risk Management, one of the best trends is the increased use of RFID for credentials allowing for better onsite security and attendee tracking.

The best industry trend this year for Jody-Ann Rowe with the Event Certificate and the Osgoode Hall Law School has been the use of drones with LED lights at events, for example at the Super Bowl earlier this year. This was entertaining and also has huge implications in the branding and marketing area of events.

For La’Bonnae Kea with Vintage Socialite, the coolest industry trend is the growing options in meeting and event education and credentialing. “It is evidence that our roles are shifting in the direction of being a business partners to organizational leadership. The specialized options are also a highlight to the diverse needs of meeting planners support various industries!” Kea said.  

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Each season seems to bring a new color scheme. Richard O’Malley with The O’Malley Project advises planners to stay away from trendy colors and designs simply because event photographs will look old and dated before they should.

Sarah Donawerth with Mingle loves the concept of making events comfortable; however, making events too perfect and manicured can ruin all the fun. “Pinterest is providing a wealth of information so that event planners can get every detail just right. However, this means that planners often create events with a minute-by-minute itinerary and create a space that is beautiful, but almost museum-like in its presentation. If people are afraid to sit on the furniture or touch the dessert table, the event is overdone and the planner must then do some serious damage control to get the event underway.,” Donaweth shares.

“One of the most challenging trends is along the lines of dietary concerns,” shares Amy Orr with Orrganized Events. “Event planners work with the venue’s chef to accommodate the needs of everyone – sometimes with over 16 slightly different dietary needs or concerns. One size does not fit all. If executed poorly, the selected menu may try to make one meal for the special diets attendees – rather than multiple options – and you get a gluten free, vegetarian, vegan and diary-free entrée that is a disappointment. Planners need to be as focused on these side meals as they are the main meal, or they may have some disgruntled attendees.” 

According to Jody-Ann Rowe with the Event Certificate and the Osgood Hall Law School the worst industry trend this year is the use of QR -coded gaming for attendee and supplier interaction. It's a trend that was fun in the beginning, but has passed its shelf life. Not only that, it is not very effective for ensuring that attendees interact with suppliers, since they will often just scan the code for points and leave.

For Michael Marquez, General Manager at Mystical Entertainment Group the worst are photo booths. The market is heavily saturated with subpar products that force reputable companies to devalue their offerings.

John Macaluso at NJ Wedding and Event Center has enough of the mason jars and burlap.

What are your thoughts and best and worst trends? Leave them in the comments below. And please do us a little favor and share this post with others, for there’s a good chance that it will help them as they go about planning meetings and events.

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