Looking ahead to next year? These five event trends will dominate the industry

As another year of planning comes to a close, it’s time to look ahead and think about where the meetings industry is going in 2020. 

These five trends are poised to lead the way for events next year—so start planning now.

The Festivalization of Events

Entertainment, food, friends—it’s not hard to see why music festivals attract 32 million attendees each year. And corporate meetings have taken notice. Come next year, professional meetings will continue to expand into the experiential, incorporating more performance, entertainment, dining, and hands-on, interactive experiences for a fun, festival-like atmosphere.


2019 was the year of burnout, with the World Health Organization officially ruling it a diagnosable condition. It’s no surprise, then, that meetings’ attention to wellness will shift for a greater emphasis on mindfulness come 2020. Meditation exercises, soothing, spa-like décor and device-free events will all help attendees limit stress and distractions and reach a sense of calm.


Hosting a destination event? About 71 percent of attendees consider the destination when deciding whether to attend the meeting, with another 20 to 30 percent saying that location is the deciding factor. The takeaway: Meetings are no longer just about business—people want time for leisure, too. 

For planners, this means designing events with a focus on “bleisure,” or a blend of the two. Consider making time in the agenda for exploration—perhaps a walking tour breakout session—or skipping the breaks entirely in order to cut the day short and give attendees time to explore on their own.  


Hello, increase: Wearable spending is projected to grow 27 percent next year, from $40.5 billion to $51.5 billion. Smartwatches continue to be the most popular wearable device, but that doesn’t mean you have to arm guests with Apple Watches. Consider optimizing your meeting app for guests’ personal wearable devices, as well as leveraging radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, which uses radio waves to read and track information through a unique chip identifier, inside wristbands and badges and allow guests to speed through entry lines, pay and more with a flick of the wrist.

A bonus for planners: Wearables can also provide a wealth of attendee data and increase event security, which brings us to …

Increased Event Security

In an unpredictable modern world, 90 percent of planners agree that event security and safety initiatives should be a top priority for the meetings industry. That means weaving safety into every planning decision, be it choice of venue or seating arrangement. Try storyboarding, or mapping out your event on paper, to minimize any potential security risks—and don’t forget an emergency evacuation plan, either.