Digitalization trends in the event industry in 2024

After an AI year in 2023, the event industry is turning its attention back to the essentials in 2024: practical application. "2023 was a year of experimentation, 2024 will see implementation," says Maximilian Pohl from the German company Eventnet.

Immersive experiences on the next level: event visitors immerse themselves in a new dimension of interaction with VR glasses. (Image: zVg.)

"It's not about which technological trend is currently en vogue, but how these innovations can be seamlessly and effectively integrated into the planning and execution of events using a solid digital infrastructure," Pohl continues.

Virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) are more than just buzzwords. The event industry is in a phase of experimentation and cautious convergence. For some time now, VR has been used in event planning to enable virtual tours and interactive experiences that cannot be presented in the real world. In 2024, hybrid events and personalized participant experiences can use AI to create new user experiences.

VR and MR: more than just buzzwords

The use of VR and MR has once again increased significantly in the event industry in 2023. "One example is the use of VR to demonstrate a product to visitors at a trade fair stand that cannot be shown in reality. Or an object inspection without an object in a very early planning phase," explains Pohl. "This creates added value for the visitor without the technology becoming an end in itself."

A reliable digital infrastructure is important

The success of VR, MR and AI applications depends largely on the ability of the digital infrastructure to provide or regularly update data in real time. "A reliable infrastructure is crucial to ensure that the digital experience delights rather than frustrates participants. This applies to all applications that work with live data or are designed for interaction. For example, VR live streams, gamification or virtual trips to other locations. A connection failure would be as serious as a power cut during a live performance," warns Pohl.

An indispensable year for the digital infrastructure

2024 is therefore not only the year of the implementation of VR, MR and AI in the event industry, but also the year in which a professional digital infrastructure will go from being a "nice-to-have" to an absolute "must-have". The digital requirements for events continue to increase - and with them the need for a robust infrastructure. "Event organizers urgently need competent partners who can ensure that the technical side runs smoothly. Otherwise, they will be constantly worrying about technical installations or troubleshooting instead of creating unforgettable experiences for their participants," adds the expert. In his experience, customers currently need support with two aspects: The provision of a suitable digital infrastructure and the development of creative concepts.

Looking to the future: Experimentation and a cautious approach

"Organizers should take these steps right now in order to remain competitive," recommends Pohl. For example, it is a good idea to experiment with small applications and initially see them as a helpful gimmick. "This keeps costs in check and makes it possible to try things out." It is important that the experience for users is really good. To achieve this, it has to make sense, be well implemented and run without technical glitches. Whether it's the current interactive immersive exhibition "inside van Gogh", Monet's 360-degree journey through the Impressionist's history and works or the time travel provider Time-Ride, which takes you through 7,000 years of Bavarian history using VR: According to Eventnet, there are many successful VR-supported formats, particularly in the fields of art, culture and tourism, which would have been unthinkable ten years ago and are now bringing in significant amounts of money.

Quieter trends with a lot of meaning

While the big buzzwords dominate the media, there are some trends that have grown in practice - and are therefore perhaps even more significant.

Hybrid events and year-round event cycles with more sustainability: Many companies are switching to a model in which they organize smaller real and virtual events more frequently throughout the year. This practice allows the discussions and engagement of participants to continue online over longer periods of time.

Also the Sustainability will play an increasingly important role and can be effectively supported by digitalization. Sponsor advertising can be displayed digitally, personalized articles can be printed on site as required, and participants can choose to take part in program items remotely.

Personalized participant experienceArtificial intelligence (AI) is also becoming increasingly important in the event industry. Organizers are increasingly using AI and data analytics to create individual experiences for participants. This includes personalized schedules, recommendations tailored to participants' interests and automatically generated summaries of program items or queries from participants. For the first time, the masses can be provided with individualized information.

The trend is towards automating and consolidating various event technologies in an integrated solution in order to offer organizers and participants a seamless event experience. The more naturally and easily the individual digital offerings can be operated, the better the acceptance and user experience. This also applies to the presentation of events on websites or in event apps. "The demands of users will continue to increase in 2024," Pohl is convinced. "The better the information is presented and can be accessed, the more positively the entire event will be perceived." Organizers should work with professionals to create tailor-made event pages that not only reflect the essence of the event, but also allow participants to navigate in a modern and intuitive way.

Conclusion: Sensible integration is the key to success

Digitalization in the event industry in 2024 is not just a trend. It is a necessity in order to create added value - and therefore a prerequisite for success. The targeted integration of VR, mixed reality and AI into event planning and execution can take events to a new level. A powerful and reliable digital infrastructure is the foundation on which these applications are built. Technology must be a means to an end. Experimentation is the basis for competitiveness.

* Maximilian Pohl is Managing Director of Eventnet, a provider of internet solutions for the event industry and digital services for event organization such as video streaming, event apps, cashless payment systems and WiFi marketing. The company specializes in planning and implementing individual solutions for event locations, congresses, festivals and other projects that rely on a stable internet connection or digital visitor management.

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