Event management at a turning point? Chances and Challenges 2016

Since “time” and “attention” have become the most valuable and hard-fought assets in today’s businesses, event management is facing new challenges. Are we also facing new chances? Let’s take a look at the freshest and most interesting angles this year.

Georg Franck called it the economy of attention: a model in which companies and businesses are constantly competing for the customer’s regard. Considering the manifold offerings and distractions of today’s media and the various opportunities for spending and using your time, this is a major challenge also in event management. People’s desire to optimise their schedules leads to a stricter, more efficient planning behaviour. In other words: Don’t waste my time or I’m out.

Event management has always been under pressure to deliver new, exciting programmes and to link information with entertainment. While being boring or predictable was never an option, the pressure might have increased to convince the audience from the very beginning.

At the end of 2015, event planner Chris Cuhls asked 22 people in the event industry for their personal outlook: What trends, challenges and opportunities do you see for live communication in 2016? Among various inspired replies, the following key points seem most quote-worthy to us.

Interlacing on- and offline

People raising hands to vote in a plenum
Participation online and offline: The younger your audience, the less significant will be the difference.

Exhibition planners and keynote speakers agree: fairs and other classical live events need to be able to generate individual communication channels for all participants – digitalisation will march on and on- and offline dialogue will continue to merge.


Today’s audience has so many opportunities and still just 24 hours in a day, so you really have to court them. Asking yourself, why should anyone attend my event instead of another? is a good thing to do from the first to the last steps of your project.

Ideals, meaning and the environment

We see troublesome times, and we see an increasing desire especially with young people to spend their time doing something that makes sense to them. The same applies for preferences and engagement when it comes to visiting certain events. From 2016 on, event managers will have to not only entertain the audience and make them puzzle or make them laugh. They will also have to cater to their request for meaning. Last, but not least: Events are more and more scrutinised for how green and sustainable they are – from flyer printing to catering choices.


“I think the performer is still responsible for creating an emotional moment,” says director Nadine Imboden as quoted in Chris’s article. Be it lecturer, presenter or host: If you are leading the audience through the event, it’s (mostly) your job to emotionalise them and to ensure the message meets not only the brains, but the guts as well.

Audience listening and looking at a presentation
What reaction did you get? And: Is it the one you were hoping for?

Play and participation

Thorben Grosser, general manager of Eventmobi in Europe, sees huge potential in gamification and the increasing inclusion of the audience. Torsten Fremer (CEO of Klubhaus communication agency) and Anke Langhardt (event director at TRIAD Berlin) vote for more participation and interaction in order to make events more palpable and memorable.

Track and improve

Not exactly a new development, but good to remember anyway. And the available tools and apps have made this so much easier! The faster you evaluate the success of your event, the sooner you can react, re-plan and report. By asking the audience what they think before the evening’s even over saves you and them valuable time afterwards.