The best news about 2017 is that the formula for success is not changing.

Events in 2017

Around this time just about every “thought leader” in the events industry comes out with their “trends” for new year list. Even I have done one of these in the past — and they’re not totally pointless. However, it’s a bit funny to make these lists because first of all, we don’t plan events based on turning into a new year, and second, those lists are honestly the easiest things to make (most say the same things). I mean, looking into the future for the next 6–12 months is super easy, really. What I would like to see is more lists of trends in the next 3–5 years. But I digress…

I think maybe the funniest thing about these lists are that people approach them in one of two ways: first by stating what are actually trends (meaning, people actually doing the things listed), and second, listing the things they would love to see people do more (I’m with ya here), but aren’t actually doing yet. Most of these lists are like the future trying desperately to pull events forward as if they are anchored heavily into the past (which, frankly, many are).

Anyway, here is my prediction for events in 2017: You will need to apply the same principles for successful events that have always been in place. Nothing about what makes an event truly a success is changing. Seriously.

My advice? Look at the lists — they might have some interesting ideas for you. But, mostly, know your event objectives, know your attendees, know people — and give them a great and valuable experience.

And I don’t care what people say about bots and apps and data and VR and other tech, etc. Those things are cool and all (hey, I am a technologist), but in the end, maybe my favorite events and experiences have none of those things. They have awesome human engagement, meaningful and useful content, and when I walk away, I am inspired and motivated and better for going. That can happen without all the bells and whistles and the latest trending things.

Think about it. I would bet that most of your favorite memories have nothing to do with technology or some latest trend. My bet is they are very simple in nature and include great human interaction. A day on the beach with the family, a lunch with a colleague or friend, a night around a fire, a holiday celebration with games and lots of laughing, a day on the golf course with people you admire, a few hours spent serving someone else, etc. This is live events at its greatest — when the very idea of being face to face means being face to face and connecting with other people in meaningful ways.

Doesn’t it seem inherently silly to get people to an event where they are face to face and then get them staring at PowerPoint’s on a screen, videos, being silent listeners, deep into their phones, or behind some virtual reality headset? Yes those things are ok at times, and even important, but they are not what make most events successful, truly. This is not a change for 2017. It has always been this way, and always will be.

The bottom line is, the most important trend is always the one that is always in fashion and the most popular — human engagement.

Make that your most important objective this year, and no matter what else you do, you will make this year a successful one in events.

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