5 Event Planning Trends for This Winter

There’s no question that 2020 will be remembered for many things, and it’s definitely been challenging for the event planning industry, as well as frustrating for the many people who had events canceled or changed. Some summer and fall events were able to go on as scheduled, even if they didn’t look the same as their organizers envisioned at the outset. As we start to close out 2020 and head into winter, post-COVID events will have that different look and feel, with trends that accompany them. Sustainability is now an important factor. However, there are still the same priorities to consider, such as upward trends in decor and style. While winter 2020-2021 trends might be a little more health- and safety-focused, that doesn’t mean all the fun fervor of event planning is gone — it’s just time to put some of your most flexible ideas into motion.

Focus on Health and Wellness

Regardless of your industry or topic of your event, expect many events to have some sort of health and wellness frame. Many companies are taking this time in our world’s history to focus on health and wellness initiatives, which is felt from the office to the event. This includes not only COVID-19 but also education about the flu and flu shots as well as information about proper handwashing and social distancing measures. Many business owners, C-level execs, and employees are still (justifiably) worried about the coronavirus. Some will want to be involved with your event, but won’t want to attend in person. Here is where you’re going to need some current event knowledge and some flexibility. 

Make sure you’re up to date with all the current CDC guidelines as well as the ones applicable to your state and city and choose an event space that is also in line and adhering to these guidelines. The CDC has warned that in-person indoor social gatherings can be a hotbed for spreading the virus, so during the winter, depending on your location, offering that flex indoor/outdoor option might be tough. Be prepared for a hybrid event or a remote-only event, especially if there’s an uptick in cases prior to your event, or if your attendees demand it. There’s no crystal ball to predict the future right now, so essentially the number one trend is to prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. 

Sustainability as More Than a Marketing Technique

Sustainability is a word that’s been tossed around quite a bit in the past. It’s a reach to call it a marketing ploy — however, it would be fairly accurate to say it’s been used as a marketing technique in the past for corporate events. A “green event” or a “sustainable event” is a nice catchphrase to get the attention of attendees, but what did it really mean? 

Over the winter and into 2021, expect to see sustainability become a standard part of events as corporations have become more invested in sustainability as part of the corporate philosophy, instead of just having eco-friendliness visits on the weekends. Expect to see more sustainable options at events, including things such as biodegradable straws, reusable water bottles, and reusable coffee cups. Companies will focus on recycling instead of creating more trash. They will also look toward companies that share their same visions and goals. Custom, sustainable event and furniture rental is an optimal choice going forward for trade shows, corporate events, small company events and even weddings and meetings.

Decor Trends for Winter 2020-21

If anything, 2020 has been unpredictable, and for many, it’s been a bit gloomy. Design and decor trends for fall going into winter aren’t the usual subdued fall browns and golds, but instead bright, bold colors. Think of holidays, and think about celebrations. Fresh and vibrant is the key. Every time you’re able to incorporate the natural, do so. There may be a trend toward hybrid and remote events during the winter, so if you’re planning an in-person event, make it bold and larger than life — unless it’s the type of event that implicitly calls for decor trending in the other direction. Opt for floral design blooms that pop. If you’re dressing tables, look for centerpieces that incorporate neutral colors, such as whites, along with brighter colors, such as purples, oranges, or bold blues. Emerald and amber are also great winter tones, especially against a cream or white backdrop.

If you’re setting tables, opt for bolder colors as well, but try not to make social distancing at tables seem too awkward. It all depends on how your tables are set up. For example, if this is a corporate event where tables are organized by department or families are sitting together, the awkwardness of social distancing may not be felt, but if it is a corporate event where the attendees are mainly strangers to each other, you have to place decor so as not to make the distance feel so — distant. When it comes to setting up a room, topiary dividers are a great way to help with social distancing.  

Technology-Driven Concepts

Technology has always been a force at events, but when it comes to events going forward, you may see some new technologies stick in a post-COVID world. Remote events are one of the first emerging trends that are here to stay, at least for the interim, in addition to hybrid events. One of the challenges for event organizers and planners is that if you host a hybrid or remote event, you still need a venue, and you still need to ensure that your attendees at home are engaged. This has definitely been a learning curve for event organizers, and as we move into winter, expect remote events to still be a driving force. 

Event apps and self-check-ins are also new technologies that have seen recent growth and that will continue to trend upward through winter. With an app connected directly to the event, attendees can provide feedback during and after. They can check into the event to prevent a logjam from checking in at the door —  which can violate social distancing measures. Alternatively, event organizers can set up kiosks at the event for guests to check-in. Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used at in-person events as well, by way of chatbots and eventbots, to better engage with attendees. Though less personable, with the pandemic still looming, this is a way to interact with attendees to better gauge their interests and feedback regarding your event. Virtual reality and AI applications are expected to be a large part of in-person events in 2021.  

A More Personalized Outreach

It seems almost ironic to predict that outreach to potential or former attendees will be more personalized as the move to events becomes more remote than face-to-face, but it’s expected that event organizers will engage more personally with attendees prior to attendance and will give the same specialized treatment to former attendees. This is because data on events are getting more and more comprehensive with the specialization of analytics and big data, which allows organizers to better pinpoint how to strategize to their audience. While COVID-19 has thrown everyone in nearly every industry a few curveballs, software is more intelligent than before, and remote platforms give event organizers a chance to reach out to attendees. 

These outreach efforts may be in the form of specialized emails, Google Forms, or surveys, perhaps asking what each attendee seeks in the event. Obviously, organizers can’t specifically cater to the needs of each individual, but knowing what each attendee cares about allows organizers to create events for everyone as a whole. It also allows insight to be able to prepare better for events that must move to a remote or hybrid platform suddenly. Having those flexible options available is a win for everyone involved. 

It’s wise to engage with your attendees prior to an event for a more personalized experience. Many people are wary about in-person events right now, and with good reason. What is special about your particular event? Why should they attend? What will they get out of attending the event? This pattern of communication must go both ways. Even if your guest opts to attend remotely, a more personal approach is a good way to show why your event is better than the competition. 

If you’re planning an event and want an innovative, classic style delivered right to your venue from floor to ceiling, CORT Events can help. With everything from furniture options to subtle dividers to help with social distancing, we’ve got you covered.