The live events industry is booming. According to a study by Forrester Research, business-to-business (B2B) events account for $512 billion in annual spending. On to top of that, the average B2B chief marketing officer spends 24 percent of their total annual budget on event marketing.

This growth in live events is not without reason. Much of today’s communication takes place over the internet. While email, social media, chat, video calls and more all offer individuals an unprecedented amount of access to one another, these channels lack the power of face-to-face contact and personal touch.

As more and more brands turn to in-person events as a powerful channel for interacting with prospects, customers and partners, the events market will become increasingly competitive. To stand out, brands will need to focus on what attendees are really looking for at their events.

Networking as experience

According to a study by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, 75 percent of attendees consider networking to be a primary factor for attending events. Your attendees want to have an amazing networking experience.

“As more and more brands turn to in-person events as a powerful channel for interacting with prospects, customers and partners, the events market will become increasingly competitive.”

Social Media Marketing World (SMMW) understands this and puts networking front-and-center at their events. They provide attendees with customizable name badges that can be modified with stickers to provide new acquaintances with a wealth of information at a glance. At the venue, SMMW offers a “Networking Embassy” to provide attendees with personalized assistants for networking. At after parties, attendees can play “Networking Bingo,” which is won by meeting people from various backgrounds and professions. Throughout the whole event, SMMW adopts an event technology platform that makes it easy for attendees to discover and connect with the right people.

Destination as experience

An increasing amount of event attendees are looking at in-person events as an opportunity to travel. This trend has been coined with the cringe-worthy portmanteau bleisure (business + leisure). While it would be nice for all events to be hosted in the Bahamas, there are other ways of providing a novel event experience without forcing attendees to break the piggy bank.

For Airbnb Open, Airbnb’s annual user conference, the brand hosted an event that spread out across the city of Los Angeles. Rather than concentrate the event in one convention center, Airbnb staged their event throughout the city. While the majority of the proceedings were decentralized, attendees could meet at an informal outdoor gathering spot called the Oasis.

Engagement as experience

At the end of the day, it’s content that will fill up the majority of an attendee’s time at an event. Make sure that your speakers and sponsors resonate with your attendees.

One of the best ways to gauge this is by providing an event app that tracks attendee engagement. South Summit uses Bizzabo, an event success platform, to track engagement with speakers and sponsors. Based on this data, they’ve consistently streamlined and improved their events. This data has also helped them demonstrate ROI to key stakeholders.

Turn your events into one-of-a-kind experiences by giving attendees what they want. Keep your ears open, find an event technology platform that allows you to track meaningful data and listen.