Experts Predict 2017’s Top Event Trends

Edit 21/12/2017 – Loving our trends guides? Why not check out our latest Hottest Wedding Trends Guide 2018!

Eight Ray Music solicits the help of top event professionals to determine which trends will take the event industry by storm during 2017.

There are few industries as fast paced as the event industry and due to the different elements required to create an event, the industry’s professionals often have to keep up with trends that span multiple industries.

Those include cuisine, music, technology, fashion, locations and venues, decor and even social trends. With so much going into a single event it’s easy to see how things can change quickly in the event industry!

As we enter 2017 this is perhaps more pronounced than ever thanks to the introduction of advanced technologies and whilst such progress can make certain things easier, keeping up with the changes can be a complicated process.

So we decided to ask some of the event industry’s top names about the trends they expect to see in 2017.

Hopefully this guide will help all of us stay ahead of the game over the forthcoming year!

In 2017 guests can look forward to bigger and better entertainment with the experts predicting that event professionals will opt for big showbands, interactive entertainment, live activations and performances. On top of this, technology will begin to play a bigger role in entertainment, with guests craving exceptional experiences like bold light shows to complement the entertainment.  

Ariel Becker shares his top event trends for 2017Specialised Vendors

Trends in the event industry for 2017 are getting more creative, specialized and of course fun. Vendors that provide highly specialized offerings such as live painting installations, interactive graffiti walls, the use of actors, dancers and/or performers, and the use of video DJs will be in high demand. In addition, we see Lighting Designers being requested frequently, as will mixologists, vs. the traditional bartender.

Myles Nye of Wise Guy Events on the hottest trends in the event industry 2017Immersive Experiences

For live events and activations, immersive and site-specific performances will be big in 2017. These types of events have been made popular through shows such as Sleep No More, Then She Fell, the Grand Paradise (in NY), San Francisco’s Speakeasy, and the Tension Experience in LA.

Our company created The Heritage Scare for the 2016 Holiday Season, and nearly 200 people played games where their choices really affected the outcome while exploring the Heritage Square, a living history museum.

Megan Frisbee, event professionalsBigger & Better Entertainment

For 2017, the trend is all about live entertainment! People crave experiences over “things” and we are seeing that trend more and more. While bookings for magicians, hypnotists, and comedians are always popular, it seems that event planners want something bigger and better. Booking for unique entertainment such as aerialists, fire breathers, human statues, and impersonators are on an upward climb. “LED Dancer” is our newest category, and has been added based on the growing demand from our event planners. For smaller private events, mobile spas are increasing in popularity and requests.

Leigh Walker Event Professionals on the hottest trends in event entertainmentMore Live Music, Interactive Experiences

We’re seeing a growing trend on making events an interactive experience. This includes augmented reality systems, live streaming displays, and hi-tech photo booths. That’s going to be hot for events in 2017. Live music performances are also going to be more of a hot commodity. People are really clamoring for ways to have an experience that they can share with their family and friends as it’s happening now.

Fabrice Orlando Event Professional sharing the hottest event trends of 2017Thinking Outside the Box

Creative entertainment is on the rise- with event professionals taking on an ‘outside the box’ approach with 1950’s style big bands, belly dancers and fire breathers.

Alan Jacoby Event Professional predicts the hottest trends in events 2017Live Performances

Live performances by favorite artists are hot, and the big trend is toward social and cultural happenings for consumers to share with like-minded enthusiasts. Consumers are willing to open their pocket books to see live entertainers on stage, and they crave an overall great experience from start to finish. Today, it’s increasingly popular for festivals to sell a plethora of tickets before entertainers are even announced. Consumers are becoming increasingly loyal to an event’s brand, and they know they’ll get their money’s worth of fun and enjoyment regardless of who is on the stage.

 In the corporate world, aligning brands with live events is on the upswing, and the trend will continue through 2017. Events provide unprecedented value in bringing consumers together with products and provide corporate sponsors with an opportunity to directly engage with their target audiences. Beyond name recognition, interactivity between brands and consumers on-site at an event — everything from test driving a truck over rugged terrain to sophisticated wine tasting to first-hand experimentation with the latest technology — appeals to corporate sponsors. It’s a win-win. The sponsor showcases the brand one-on-one to the right consumers, and the total event experience is enhanced.

Technology looks set to create some of the biggest changes within the event industry during 2017. Event experts are suggesting that whilst social media and an event’s digital reach will become evermore crucial event profs must be aware of the rise of iBeacon tech and its ability to give physical items a virtual presence. Exciting stuff, read more about these futuristic developments below! 

Richard Graves CEO of BKON Connect talks about the trends set to rock the event industry in 2017Beacons Will Become Integral to Events

Beacons give things — products, signs, art, buses, menus — virtual bookmarks to afford them an online presence. The Physical Web, an open Web discovery system introduced in 2015 by Google, makes them searchable.

Sports arenas, music venues and trade shows can use the Physical Web to broadcast the WiFi information, schedules and other location-specific information.

Trade shows can use them at vendor booths to deliver discoverable company information, slide decks, surveys and more. Nashville Oktoberfest 2016 organizers wanted to give attendees quick access to information about the festival, its vendors, and the schedule of upcoming events over eight city blocks (18 acres).

Using the Physical Web, festival organizers were able to deploy a fully-functioning beacon proximity campaign within about two weeks. By virtue of standing nearby, Oktoberfest attendees could use their smartphones to search the Physical Web and discover information about a food truck, a musical performer, or even the Dachshund parade.

Signs near the beacons or a Physical Web sticker on an individual product can alert people that more information is available on the Physical Web. Discovery is made with a simple swipe down from the top of a smartphone screen. Smartphones with a Physical Web scanner receive low-level notifications, which appear automatically in the lockscreen for Android devices and in the “Today” screen for iPhones.

Courtney Hurley of Gail & Rice shares the hottest event trends of 2017Expanding Digital Reach

Everyone in the industry knows that the success of an event is determined not just by the attendees’ experience, but by the digital reach and impact.The seamless integration of social and digital experiences with the physical environment is going to be essential in 2017.

That means interactivity, gamification and shareable content that makes the audience and attendees the star of the show. As a result, Influencers will play an even larger role in dictating the structure of events.

Event professionals should be aware of this audience and study their interests so they can take advantage of organic content generation and ultimately create a larger digital footprint for their events.

Cindy Lo event planner shares her predictions for the top event trends of 2017Increase In Apps For Convenience

More apps/programs that are about simplifying tasks that have in the past been very manual. For example, Waldo uses face recognition to quickly identify which photos have guest attendees in them after they submit their selfie. This is a great tool for city-wide events, large attendance based events, etc.

Virtual Reality

With the increasing popularity of incorporating Virtual Reality (VR) into corporate events, I am predicting that the price points for these units will come down and that corporate clients will try to build custom applications using the VR headsets (think of this as the new photo booth for 2017).

Christophe Kubiak caterer shares his top event trend predictions for 2017Marriage of technology and events

Technology has always played a huge part of events, and 2017 will be no exception. The biggest technology that we will be seeing more at events will be Virtual Reality. The usage of this technology doesn’t have to be just for high-end events. It is actually a technology that can be pretty inexpensive to implement. Viewers like Google Cardboard make this technology very affordable and easy. Look out for venues using virtual reality tours of their spaces for planners that are not local and wedding photographers offering virtual reality filming to wedding clients. According to Sebastien Sanges, other technology trends include using QR Codes to show nutritional information and recipes, as well as integrating smart lighting into the food experience.

Alan Jacoby Event Professional predicts the hottest trends in events 2017Social Media Will Continue to Impact Events

Social media has had a big impact on the event industry, and this trend will escalate through 2017. From a marketing perspective, it’s a powerful channel for event producers and sponsors, and we’ll see increased spending in the upcoming year. It’s very exciting to create and build a community of fans who eagerly anticipate coming together in person to experience an event, regardless if it’s annually or more frequently.

Technology has changed the way people interact, but the way I see it, less human contact amplifies consumer’s desire for live concert events and real-life, more face-to-face social happenings — the big event trend of 2017.

Justin Guinn Technology Expert on Event Industry TrendsSocial Media Marketing

Social marketing has become a notable attendee acquisition channel. When event registration software offers integrations into social platforms, attendees can convert right where they are without having to visit an event’s registration site. Managers can leverage social with targeted professionals and brands/industry thought leaders in the event’s respective space. Some event platforms even allow you to input analytics code so that you can track where buyers are coming from so that you can attribute marketing money more accurately.

iBeacon technology

iBeacon technology is a highly innovative tool which uses Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) signals to engage with iOS and Android smartphones that come within a designated location. These beacons will be huge for the event space because they can prompt attendees to take certain actions and just offer a differentiated experience. I could see more of this trend in 2017.

Event catering experts have made some bold predictions for 2017 but they rarely get it wrong. One thing that is notable throughout their suggestions is the desire to marry an event’s cuisine with other elements, such as the social aspect. This means 2017 will see top caterers focusing on interactive food stations. Alongside this, there is a growth of conscious catering with vegetarian menus being popularised along with an ethical approach to sourcing ingredients.

Christophe Kubiak caterer shares his top event trend predictions for 2017Interactive Cuisine

Great-tasting food is no longer enough. Guests now want to play with their food and be surprised. Elements like: Shells that dissolve when a liquid is poured over it and revealing a main dish or a dessert Chefs as performance artists that go beyond a chef demo and let guests get intimate with the process. Ex. Letting guests paint their plates with sauces as if it’s artwork.

Randall Jacobs shares the catering event trends that will be big in 2017Interactive Elements & Childhood Favourites

At Blue Plate Catering, we’ve seen the “pop” trend starting to die off. Say goodbye to things on a stick. A lot of clients are looking for foods that don’t leave the guests with handfuls of vessels, utensils and skewers, which make it hard to drink and socialize. In 2017, we’re expecting more requests for classic pie flavors reinvented, s’mores, childhood favorites both in the form of plated desserts and sweet mini bites.

Blue Plate Catering has seen interest in action and do-it-yourself stations that we anticipate seeing much more of in 2017. Many of our clients come to us looking to serve up dessert and entertainment for their guests. A lot of clients are looking to make their food service less stuffy and formal and more fun and customizable by encouraging their guests in the preparation of their own food.

We’ve also noticed alcohol playing a bigger role in desserts. One of our most popular late night snacks is our variety of boozy milkshakes. Though last year was a big year for customized cocktails with specialty teas, herbs and spices, this year seems to be headed more toward a revival of the classics. With that idea in mind, the “spiked” idea is perfectly on trend. It’s not uncommon to see a splash of rum in a brownie or a splash of Bailey’s in an ice cream.

Kevin Dennis Event ProfGoing Above & Beyond

Food will be a bigger focus in events of the upcoming year. Clients are going above and beyond the standard appetizer-and-entree menu with additional courses, interactive food stations, and the fusion of unique flavors. In addition, we’ve also seen growth in the popularity of late-night snacks – they will no longer be just an add-on but more of an expected end to the night.

Cindy Lo event planner shares her predictions for the top event trends of 2017Conscious Catering

The next generation of attendees caring more about what they consume, food is once again going to be important – not just for allergies but they want low-fat, low carbon foot print and price will still play an important role. I think chefs will be challenged with coming up with new menus to showcase more local cuisine and healthy options yet still full of flavor.

Aaron Janus predicts event trends for 2017Vegetarian Dishes For Non-Vegetarians

With the recent interest in and the increasing popularity of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and diary-free diets, couples can impress even the die-hard meat lover with an irresistible cauliflower steak. Tip: Cauliflower soaks up a ton of flavor, so try adding Moroccan spices to a whole cauliflower, baking it and placing it over rice, quinoa or couscous for a hearty meal.

Fabrice Orlando Event Professional sharing the hottest event trends of 2017Interactive Food Stations

Guest experience was the focal point of the event industry landscape in 2016, and we’ll see this trend continue to be on the forefront in 2017. Clients want more opportunities for guests to engage so expect to see interactive food stations and creative icebreakers.

The experts expect Venue & Decor Event Trends for 2017 to focus on personalising the guest experience. We can look forward to quirky elements such as unusual guestbooks and off-the-grid venues. On the more practical side, more analysis will be put into the layout of events to ensure seamless guest movement. The experts also have strong views on the colours set to dominate events in 2017, so read on for the the top Venue & Decor Event Trends of 2017. 

Ruby Sohi Event Planner shares event trends that will be hot in 2017Enhance the Guest Experience

As every event professional knows, the guest experience is everything! In 2017, we can look forward to seeing more engaging, digital activations that will be interactive and memorable.

Whilst we have already seen interactive displays in recent years, this trend will continue to evolve with the likes of digital gamification with incentivised prizes and interactive inventions that will transform event spaces with engaging décor elements.

Guinepig have a selection of playful, interactive products designed to engage with attendees at events. Not only does this this trend provide great ice-breakers for effective networking,it will also open the doors for sponsorships, offering branded experiences andperhaps even real time data.

Kevin Dennis Event ProfNeutral Hues & Natural Elements

In terms of decor, expect to see a lot of navy blue popping up in next year’s events. Metallic and neutral hues will continue to stay on the scene, as well. These shades pair very well with natural elements, like flowers, greenery, wood and slate. When it comes to lighting, we’re forecasting a big year for professional lighting as our chandeliers and spotlights have been extremely popular with our clients for 2017.

Erin Ollendike of BBJ Linens predicts the event trends of 2017Earthy Natural Schemes & Moody Blues

Pantone, the color guru of fashion, has chosen Greenery as the Color of the Year because it signals “new beginnings..” We’re excited by the range of possibilities for table settings and event decor. Some of our favorites are earthy natural schemes and moody blue and twilight grey. Or take our cue and pack a punch, adding sizzle with brassy gold, bright paprika or blue the color of lapis

Fabrice Orlando Event Professional sharing the hottest event trends of 2017Bold Colours & Patterns

Say good-bye to the neutral color palettes of years past- as bold color choices paired with striking patterns are making a comeback.

Szymon Niemczura discusses the event trends set to take 2017 by stormChanging Layouts

Events are much more than just a series of booths or networking opportunities. Planners must begin by considering the physical layout of a venue, optimizing space, pricing, and rental of different areas. There are two very distinct goals: pleasing visitors and increasing revenue. Bluetooth is already aiding visitors with wayfinding and personalized promotions but in the next months, we will see beacons helping managers branch out with data collection and conference and event analytics. This collected data will enable event planners to:

  • Visualize foot traffic
  • Locate bottlenecks
  • Set rates for vendors
  • Quantify dwell times
  • and more.

Kelly King Bakehorn shares the event trends she thinks will be big in 2017Unusual Guest Books

It’s a trend to have an item for guests to sign instead of a traditional guest book. We are seeing serving platters, bourbon barrel heads, window panes and even a coffee table being used creatively as guest books. At Venues of The Grand Reserve, we love to refer couples to local craftspeople for purchasing these specialty items.

Christophe Kubiak caterer shares his top event trend predictions for 2017Off The Grid Venues

Places like San Francisco have some impressive landmark event venues, but 2017 will see the rise of the “secret venue”. Planners are looking for something different that their guests have not experienced before; a feeling of exclusivity and being in on a secret that others don’t know about. Technology companies like Peerspace have taken large markets by storm offering access to venues that are not as well-known or accessible to the general public. Companies like Peerspace also offer concierge services where they help planners plan their events from beginning to end, providing comfort and security in using these new spaces.

As we mentioned in the introduction to this guide there are so many different elements that go into making an event successful and whilst our chapters are comprehensive they don’t quite cover each and every element. To rectify this, we’ve created a General Event Trends chapter to focus on the ‘best of the rest’. Enjoy!

Lawrence Coburn shares the top event trends for 2017Machine Learning, Security & Engagement Marketers

1. Live is the new black; the digitization of events will start to see more personalized, hyper-focused and strategic events.

2. We will see a heightened focus on areas of security, stability, and integration as the industry matures and the demand for event technology increases.

3. Machine learning will unlock the power of data from live events.

4. A new breed of meeting and event planners will emerge in the form of Live Engagement Marketers.

Jeff Kear predicts the event industries hottest trends for 2017Niche Event Marketing

Just as the Web has atomized into millions of sites serving all kinds of niches, so events in 2017 will swing even more from macro to micro in an effort to drill down to meet the specific needs and desires of smaller audience segments.

Niche event marketing will also grow in 2017 as improving event technologies will allow event mangers to better segment and customize messages to specific audiences (event managers are already seeing better traction with such customization efforts). And event planners will look to add more and more niche experiences to their events with comfy, tech-enabled lounge areas, intimate food tastings and even leisure activities and excursions tailored to smaller groups, all in an effort to allow individual attendees to better personalize their experience based on their preferences.

Dan Lobring shares his prediction for 2017's Event TrendsExperiential Marketing

For 2017, I think you’ll start to see event marketing or experiential marketing become a bigger and more essential component of integrated brand campaigns.  Instead of being considered a one-off or standalone event, smart brands will look to amplify experiential marketing as part of their broader campaigns, and leverage the event(s) across other integrated areas of their marketing (i.e.., capturing content from events for social media campaigns, website, etc.) Nothing beats the one-to-one interaction for brands to consumers that events provide.

John Findlay on the hottest trends in the event industryGamification

Getting people to attend event sessions and visit booths can be challenging. Gamification helps get more people in the door while tracking attendance levels. In 2017, we will see more incentivised check-in. Consumers or guests will ‘check in’ at each booth or session.  That way event planners can measure how many people attended and which were the most popular. And you can motivate attendees to attend more by:

● Creating a leader board of attendees who check in to the most booths/sessions
● Offering a chance to win a prize by checking into a particular number of booths/sessions
● Awarding game plays for a grand prize sweepstakes game when they check in

Christophe Kubiak caterer shares his top event trend predictions for 2017Community Mindfulness

One of the positives coming out of the recent election is that it has awoken a new sense of responsibility towards ones own community, as well as a yearning to help others. Event planners will demand that vendors use socially responsible practices at their events, such as donating leftover foods to shelters. Fundraising events should have a surge and will probably have larger budgets this year, and we’ll see more partnerships between the private sector and non-profits at events to create awareness and synergy opportunities.

So what can we learn from this extensive guide to event trends in 2017?

In this section we pick out the most frequently occurring trends. Because we figured that if multiple experts are predicting a certain trend then it’s highly likely it will come to fruition.

We saw plenty of trends mentioned multiple times by the experts, we have a funny feeling these are the ones to watch –


  • Interactive experiences – with food and entertainment! Whether it is an engaging live band or magician or food that entertains and inspires. As Christophe Kubiak elegantly summarised it ‘Guests now want to play with their food and be surprised.’


  • Bigger bands – Eight Ray Music has been working hard to develop big showbands and the experts are hinting that we’re on the right track with a number of them highlighting the desire for bigger, better live music experiences.


  • Beacons – beacon technology was mentioned by nearly all the experts talking about technology and events, ignore it at your peril!


  • Digital Reach- social media has long been part of the event industry landscape but event profs will be looking for new and engaging ways to harness the reach of the medium.


  • Conscious catering – vegetarian dishes and ethical ingredients will be demanded by a more conscious generation. This also ties in with the community mindfulness aspect.


  • Natural elements will be used in event decor


  • Off the grid venues and more quirky aspects to events – event profs will be looking for ways to entertain audiences who are less likely to be surprised and engaged by more traditional techniques and venues.


So there are our thoughts on the event trends of 2017! We hope you enjoyed the article.

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