Event professionals and marketers have a wealth of tools, technologies, and platforms at their fingertips—all promising to make event organization more productive and meaningful.

At the same time, attendees have come to expect more than ever from their time and investment in meetings and events, and those expectations seem to be growing still.

Various trends are paving the way for event professionals to successfully apply event management technology and engagement-oriented strategies to address those challenges and opportunities.

At our firm, we have identified the following five big trends expected to shape event management success in the year ahead.

1. Personalizing the Event Experience

It's all about me!

Event participants are looking to experience events in ways that are highly relevant to their unique needs and expectations. Attendees strive for inclusion, convenience, and value, and they will therefore be drawn to events that allow them to tailor an agenda, access meaningful content, and engage with others who share similar interests.

Accordingly, a personalized event experience is the new requirement. "It's not any agenda, it's my agenda." This is the new mantra of attendees.

Tip: Today's marketing automation and event management technology allow you to build rich attendee profiles and deliver highly relevant content, personalized agendas, appointment matching, and more.

2. Making Space for User-Generated Content

I'm here to tell you...

In today's Web-based, social media-driven world, everyone has the ability to discover, spin up, and share content. Attendees have gone beyond simply consuming the content that organizers dish out; they're creating their own content in real time and in their own voice. Event owners must strive to incorporate two-way engagement channels— tweeting, social, mobile, virtual, real-time pulse, and others—to give attendees the feelings of inclusion and control.

"We hear you. We respect you. You decide." That is the mindset that event owners must embrace as they bring attendees' voices and ideas to life.

Tip: Event owners can proactively put attendees at the center of the event universe by giving them the tools, information, and support to create their own content. Employ the power of user-generated content at events by soliciting ideas, facilitating social conversations, and rewarding remarkable contributed content.

3. Matching Up

It's really all about us!

Selling products, services, or ideas is often the first objective on the minds of marketers and event professionals. In the end, however, the success of any event comes down to attendees and their expectations of value having been met. That value is often defined by how effectively an event can bring sellers and buyers together, face to face.

According to a recent MPI whitepaper titled Meetings Deliver, "Organizations are now beginning to recognize the irreplaceable role of face-to-face meetings in solidifying relationships, closing business deals, consulting stakeholders, and deciding major policies or strategies."

Today's attendees are ready to get work done—here and now—and there's no reason in their minds to wait.

Tip: Use intelligence-based appointment matching tools to create performance-driven events by automatically connecting attendees who share common business, professional, and social interests.

4. Aligning Event Planning and Marketing Automation

One + one = three

Event professionals are driving a significant transformation in their role as business enablers. Shifting focus away from a traditional emphasis on operational excellence, logistics, and expense management, organizers are making the leap and becoming true contributors of value in the sales and marketing process.

Integrated event planning and marketing automation technology—with event professionals playing a power user role—will translate event intelligence and rich attendee profiles directly into a closed-loop revenue cycle to enhance the role of events in generating leads and sales.

Tip: Look for an event marketing platform that integrates with your marketing automation and CRM systems. This integration will allow you to build rich attendee profiles and deliver better customer and prospect intelligence into your organization's sales cycle.

5. Lighting Up the CMO Dashboard

Count me in.

No doubt about it, events generate a lot of data. From the registration process alone significant data can be captured and translated to useful intelligence. Furthermore, data collected through social media, mobile, website interactions, and more, adds to the wealth.

As the integration between marketing automation and event management deepens, analysis of data related to attendee behavior, brand awareness, lead generation, and advanced sales cycles will light up the CMO dashboard with clear evidence of how events deliver ROI.

Tip: Enterprise-level event management platforms can synthesize data to deliver the intelligence you need to create personalized events, accelerate revenue, and prove the results.

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How will your organization respond to these event management trends? What solutions will you call upon to help you? As your organization seeks to make event organization more productive and meaningful in the year ahead, how will these trends impact your approach? The challenges are great, but the opportunities are endless.

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image of Betsy Zikakis

Betsy Zikakis is vice-president of marketing, responsible for global marketing strategy and execution, at Certain Inc., a provider of event management technology for the global meetings and events industry.

LinkedIn: Betsy Zikakis

Twitter: @BetsyZikakis