2019 Event Trends: Canadian Festival and Event Experts Weigh In

February 1, 2019

It can be tough to keep up with changing event trends. The event industry is constantly shifting as the preferences and needs of event-goers evolve every year. Advances in technology, economic conditions, and social trends all have an impact on event attendees and organizers alike. Of course, the fast pace and inherent creativity that shape Canadian events are exactly what make this such an exciting industry.

We asked some of our favourite events customers and partners to share their predictions for which trends we’ll be seeing in 2019. We saw some definite themes emerge in their responses. Creating interactive, social-media worthy experiences seems to be top-of-mind this year, and reducing your environmental footprint should also be a goal in 2019. Finally, RFID appears to be on everybody’s radar.

Ready to see which event trends will be big in 2019? See all of our expert predictions in the SlideShare below, or keep reading for the text-only version!

“Witnessing the landscape firsthand through a narrow lens, my exposure to festival happenings is limited to what I research, whom I collaborate with, and what is posted in my social networks. Regardless, trends are all around us, and the one that most excites me is what organizers are planning for the very prevalent millennials, who are already planning the year with their friends and family in terms of interactive festival experiences they can attend and share with the rest of the world.

Have you been to a festival lately where you do not almost hit someone head on snapping a picture or recording a video? The reality is that as soon as visitors step foot onto your site, they are thirsty to capture that candid moment that astounded them so they can share it across their social media. We as planners have the ability to reap the rewards of this viral smorgasbord, as it lets us inadvertently tap into a new audience as a result of our visitors taking that split-second to share their experience with anyone that follows them. I would argue that our visitors serve as our human beacons in a sense, driving festival awareness to the outside world instantaneously.

It is trends like these that push organizers to spend less time programming in a traditional way and more time working with their teams to make their festival as interactive as they can. Stop lining your prime real estate with self-serving solicitors, but instead focus on program planning that your visitors can try, test, feel, touch, smell, and inevitably become emotional with – so that they remember “it” far after leaving your festival.

Do not stop here, though! If you know anything about the millennial demographic, you will agree that they are constantly searching for more. You better keep pushing the experience envelope and trying different interactive things each year if you want them coming back for more.”

– DAN DI RUSCIO, Events Coordinator – Town of Richmond Hill

“I think that there has always been a small effort put forth on sustainability for events, but 2018 saw a large increase in awareness and 2019 is shaping up to exceed that. Eco-savvy event professionals and festival organizers are looking more closely at how they can reduce their carbon footprint and work on offsetting their event pollution by putting on a “greener” event. This will not only attract a younger demographic, but it will ensure that your event will report a lower carbon footprint. Small steps such as reducing single use items, having water stations instead of allowing the purchase of plastic water bottles, providing branded reusable water bottles, offering event shuttles to minimize multiple vehicle transportation, and using recycle cans and compost containers  can all make a huge impact. Some events are even collecting waste to compost biodegradable items, which then is turned into fertilizer for nearby farming communities and organizations – so cool!”

– MICHELLE NICOL, CERP, Festival Specialist – Higgins Event Rentals

“In our opinion, the biggest trend in festivals and events this year is upgrading the visitor experience by offering more unique experiences for the audience.  As a multicultural festival, we offer visitors the opportunity to explore and learn about various cultures through entertainment, food and cultural learning.  Offering a diverse array of activities is key. Engaging the audience with interactive formats like cooking demonstrations, dance lessons and arts and crafts gives them a feeling of involvement. This is what creates a memorable experience.”

– LISA BALESTRA, Community Outreach and Program Coordinator – Carassauga Festival Inc.

“The biggest trend in festivals we’ve seen over the last year is the increase in customer enhancement. Everyone is trying to ensure that they are offering the best visitor experience possible. Whether it be integrating RFID cashless wristbands, or increasing vendors and decreasing wait times, or adding ferris wheels and photo booths, people attending any event or festival want to be able to share on all social media platforms the good times they are having. By listening to the needs and wants of our consumers and adapting to their trends, we are able to create experiences people can enjoy to ensure they are repeat customers year after year.”

– MYRIAH KAY, Marketing Director – Jones Entertainment Group

RFID (radio-frequency identification) wristbands aren’t just for music festivals. RFID can enhance your beer or wine event, your comic convention, or even your film festival in a whole variety of ways, like shortening lines — both at entry and for vendors within the event.

Events which use RFID do truly stand apart. In a survey spanning 5,000 people who regularly attend festivals, 17% said they’re accustomed to using an RFID wristband to enter festivals and make cashless purchases. And nearly a third would like the option to do so.

Some ideas for using RFID at your event:

  • Seamlessly handle re-entry for multi-day events
  • Provide easy, personalized access to multiple zones within an event
  • Allow attendees to link their RFID bracelets with their credit card to quickly pay onsite

– EUGENIA GORKOWA, Founder/Owner – EG Event Productions

“Certainly one trend that is near and dear to my heart is proper waste-resource management.  With all of the concerns about plastic waste harming our planet, the biggest trend for event management is in ensuring proper waste management with organics and recycling diversion and litter control.  Leading this approach will be in eliminating single use plastics that are highly littered (i.e. plastic straws and cutlery) and are difficult, if not impossible, to recycle.

I’m looking forward to seeing a move towards lowering our overall environmental footprint in the consumption of food and other goods at festivals and events.  Festivals and events are wonderful means of bringing communities together and having residents enjoy their lives.  It’s just that in the consumption of goods and services, we need to tread more lightly on our planet so that we can continue to enjoy ourselves for years to come.”

– BARRY FRIESEN, Director of Waste-Resource Management – Toronto Ribfest

We’ll be sharing more great predictions from Eugenia Gorkowa of EG Event Productions in the coming weeks, so check back!

Author: Joanna Bieda

Joanna Bieda is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Modu-Loc Fence Rentals, and has been with the company since 2014. She loves writing and is a self-professed data nerd. She thoroughly enjoys teaching customers about all things fence via Modu-Loc's blog.

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