What does 2016 mean for the event industry?

The first month of a new year is an amazing time to set resolutions, create plans and forecast the future. This month I’ve been fortunate enough to attend presentations on trend forecasts from MPI UK & Ireland Chapter, at Conventa in Slovenia and read various predictions from across the global event industry via social media. MPI’s Meeting Outlook states the number of face-to-face events is likely to increase in 2016, so the year ahead is looking positive for the events industry!

So what are the key trends event professionals should be thinking of to make the most of 2016 and the opportunities it holds? I have selected the five trends that I think have the potential to make the biggest difference to the global event industry. These trends come from outside the industry but are relevant, significant, and inspiring for everyone whose career involves bringing people together to create and collaborate.


Also the theme of the MPI European Meetings and Events Conference this February in Copenhagen, storytelling is an essential skill. We live in a world where technology enables us to not only create, but also share our own stories and use them to inspire a positive difference in the world. Stories are a channel for communicating emotion and building relationships. 2016 is the year to ask yourself what your story is? Are you writing it? Is it being written for you? The stories that your event creates are told by your attendees and can inspire the world with its powerful legacy.


This has been a growing theme for brands for a number of years. 2016 will see event attendees asking more about an event, its positive and negative impacts, and become more involved in the creation of event content. An event brings a brand to life. By paying attention to a brand’s values, the event supply chain will create a partnership that works. As an industry with all sorts of commission models, the event industry may want to take some time to understand what transparency really means for their future.


Over the past 10 or so years the event industry has taken great strides with measuring the economic impact of events. MPI has a number of economic impact studies and governments around the world acknowledge that an event can bring positive economic impacts to a destination. In 2016 measurement will go beyond economics and move into understanding the social impacts (how many workers learnt life skills, what knowledge transfer happened) and environmental impacts too (following the COP Conference in Paris in 2015 the focus will be on carbon impacts).

Understanding the impact of events

In 2015 the United Nations launched 17 Sustainable Development goals. From eliminating poverty to building sustainable cities, from health and wellness to economic growth, these goals are about creating a world that works for everyone. There is only one industry that is relevant to each of these goals being met. That industry is the event industry. Events will bring people together to innovate and create solutions. As the event industry increasingly understands its influence, the focus of event professionals may shift from logistics to change management.


Recent acts of global terror have had an impact on our industry and made it clear that any gatherings of people are potential targets. It is still unknown as to what exactly this means for our industry. As someone who believes it is essential to gather, collaborate, innovate and create new futures, I do not want to predict people choosing to stay at home rather than attend events, but various trends reports do highlight the potential for this.

As with all trend predictions some will be accurate and others not so accurate. 2016 is bound to hold surprises that no one could have forecast. Whatever happens over the next 12 months it is a certainty that the event industry will continue to innovate, inspire and bring people together to create, learn and share.