Here goes my view on the current conference trends I see in the market: its all about community building, offering a unique live experience, the use of data to increase the effectiveness of your coference and its about using technology.
People attend live events to meet peers as much as to learn from the speakers on stage. Conferences should therefore be used as a 'milestone' in a community building strategy that starts long before and continues after the live event.
Start with feeding your event subscribers with pieces of content that make them curious and eager to attend and to connect with other delegates (Conference "MatchMaking"!).
Community building efforts will increase delegate engagement, increase the Return on Event and it will benefit your (social) objective.
Offering Unique Live Experiences
Its not only about the speaker on stage, its also about the social dinner at a unique location, its about the group picture that can be shared on Twitter, its about experiencing innovations during the exhibition, its about an interactive workshop that sends your delegates back home with fresh ideas. And yes, its also about speeddating with peers (Conference "MatchMaking"!)
Its all about live experiences that make a live event different than an internet live stream experience.
The Use of Data
What item of your online program has been visited most? Which speaker received most replies on his/her live voting question? Which exhibitor received the most visits? Which session was well attended? Which attendee received the most meeting requests (Conference "MatchMaking"!)?
Data enables you to better organise and run the event and to learn for future editions.
Use of Technology (apps, live stream, interactive voting, …)
An increase number of participants use their smartphone to consult the program, speaker bio's, even watch the live stream from their hotel room. All these uses are pretty passive ...
The next step of digitalisation lies in increasing active delegate engagement via live voting during a lecture, networking facilitation (here we go: Conference "MatchMaking" is magic), lead scanning during an exhibition, ...
Organisers should use technology to shift delegates from passive conference visitors ("info downloaders") to active participants ("info contributors").