What 2023 holds for hospitality events

What 2023 holds for hospitality events

Digital technology, sustainability and experience-led events are just some of the emerging trends that are set to transform the future of the event industry. We asked two industry experts and event organizers to lift the lid on where the industry is heading.

In-person events on the rise
While online events will continue to garner attention, many organizations will prefer to host or attend in-person events. The virtual world will never be able to replicate the experience of a live trade fair. Indeed, 78 percent of marketers surveyed by LinkedIn said they want in-person events to regain prominence, especially if they incorporate some virtual components.

Leveraging technology
With the recent developments in AI, AR and VR, event organizers can create otherworldly, individualized experiences for visitors. The possibilities are endless thanks to the accessibility and
affordability of AR technology.

Hybrid events
As flight costs rise and the cost-of living crisis intensifies, hybrid events are crucial to the future of the events sector, allowing it to deliver content to audiences around the world.

Renewed emphasis on mindfulness
Events won’t be as frenetic they once were; instead, the focus will be on frequent breaks to keep guests energized throughout the day. In order to engage with attendees, there will be a strong
emphasis on keeping things light and relaxed. Expect quality workshops, not jam-packed programs.

Sustainable initiatives should be implemented at events to show that organizers care about reducing their impact on the environment. This might involve a recycling system, reducing the use of single-use plastic and
disseminating digital information, rather than printing catalogs, brochures and other material.

Data collection for tailored events
Through tracking social media activity before, during and after an event, organizers will be able to better tailor their events and offer the best possible customer experience. This is also made possible by automatic feedback emails.

Unconventional event venues
Selecting a visually appealing location will ultimately get people talking and is likely to encourage the sharing of posts and stories on social media.

Joumana Dammous Salame
Managing director of Hospitality Services

Digital technology at events
Probably the most prominent trend in our sector in recent years, accelerated by the global pandemic, is the adoption and incorporation of digital technology at events of all shapes and sizes.
From on-site digital features, hybrid attendance options and networking apps to stage livestreams and more engaging social media content, digital has truly transformed the way we run our conferences and summits. On-stage screens, videos and AV choreography have considerably increased the expectations of consumer. And with the rapid advancement of technologies like AI and holograms, I expect technology to play an even bigger role in the future.

There is a greater focus on sustainability in the event sector; it was at the heart of last year’s Future Hospitality Summit in Dubai not just in terms of the panel discussions but also with the experiences for delegates, which included visits to the world’s largest vertical farm, Bustanica, Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project and Fish Farm, which supports the local aquaculture industry. We also hosted the finals of the 2022 Sustainable Hospitality Challenge, where student teams from leading hotel schools presented their ideas on sustainable hospitality. It was fantastic to see an exceptional level of innovation in their projects.
Sustainability practices are also becoming a determining factor for event organizers when choosing host partners and venues. Personally, I’m hoping that options such as the use of glass bottles instead of plastic, water stations with purified water, locally sourced produce for the food and beverage offering and recyclable badges and lanyards will become standard in the future.

Experience-led events
Another important development is experience-led events that go above and beyond great business content, discussions and networking opportunities. There’s a need for all-round educational, balanced and enjoyable experiences at events. As an example, our most recent event in Dubai featured group sports sessions, a tennis and golf tournament, as well as off-site educational outings, including a visit to the Museum of the Future. This combination of personal and professional experiences that can be shared with industry peers allows attendees to make meaningful new connections and deepen existing relationships.

Hybrid events
During the pandemic, event organizers had to pivot from traditional in-person events to online events and virtual conferences on a local and international scale. Online events were valuable in allowing us to stay connected to our communities and understand attendee sentiment during the crisis. Looking ahead, I believe that there is a place for quality hybrid events, combining the ease, efficacy and scalability of online sessions with the rising need for face-to-face events, where attendees have the opportunity to rub shoulders with industry peers.
While the metaverse hasn’t yet emerged in its full form, I predict that it will redefine how events are produced and how attendees engage with each other, fusing real-life activities into the virtual world through technology. Future opportunities will include virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality experiences to enrich attendee engagement. With 3D avatars a fundamental aspect to entering the metaverse, attendees will be able to move around, talk to each other, attend breakout sessions and network. The scope of creativity is unlimited, and this presents immense opportunities for organizers to completely transform their event experience. This will be a very interesting addition to in-person events, so watch this space.

Jonathan Worsley
Chairman of The Bench

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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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