The Changing Landscape of Association Events: Which Trends Will Your Organization Embrace?

The Changing Landscape of Association Events: Which Trends Will Your Organization Embrace?

Events like conferences and annual meetings have long been a staple of association calendars as an income source and major social connector. But the event changes that began in 2021 have continued into 2022 and are expected to precipitate even bigger transformations in 2023. Here are six event trends expected to explode in the coming year. How will your association respond?

Hybrid and Online-Only Events Grow in Popularity

With many people still cautious about large gatherings due to health concerns and budget constraints, virtual events and hybrid options for in-person events are becoming ever more popular. One upside to online events is that associations have fewer expenses and disruptions to day-to-day operation, making profit margins potentially larger.


Another advantage is that you can attract attendees and speakers from anywhere in the world, including people who don’t typically travel to meetings because of busy schedules, family responsibilities, financial limitations, and accessibility issues (hint: be sure to market to these folks).

Micro-Events Are Another Option

Along with the increase in virtual events, micro-events are gaining ground. There are multiple ways to envision micro-events to work for your unique organization:


  • Physical meetings of small subgroups of your larger association, which allows participants to address all kinds of regional concerns from weather to local illness spikes
  • Online events that resemble break-out sessions from traditional conferences, letting attendees focus on what’s truly important to them
  • In-person or virtual events in a series over the course of a year, which don’t require one intense time commitment and can possibly be offered on an à la carte basis

In-Person Events Must Be Spectacular

If your association decides an in-person event is the way to go, it better be pretty fantastic to justify the expense, travel, and time involved – a total experience, not just a meeting. First, a top-flight destination at the right time of year is a must, so no Orlando in August or Minneapolis in January, and no run-down hotels out by the airport.


Also, attendees will expect a few headline items on the schedule, whether it’s a concert with a Grammy winner, a Broadway show, playoff tickets, or meet-and-greets with a household name keynote speaker. If throwing this kind of event is out of the budget or wheelhouse of your group, can you join forces with one or two other like-minded but noncompetitive organizations to make it happen?

Extras Can Drive Revenue

No matter what type of meeting you’re hosting, there are ways to increase the funds it brings in that benefit both you and your attendees. Consider these extras when planning your next event:


  • VIP experiences and other upsells (higher level access, merchandise, etc.)
  • Ultra personalized everything from the first piece of marketing
  • Expedited entry
  • Facial recognition check in
  • Cashless transactions
  • Self-serve kiosks
  • Meeting concierge services
  • Linking registration to voice assistants (Google, Alexa, etc.)
  • Gamification of attendance
  • NFTs as admission tokens, keepsakes, or credential badges

Technology Infuses Everything

If you wish to implement most of the list above, you’ll be joining the ranks of associations that have embraced the latest in technology, which is a smart move. Closed captioning and sign language interpretation are two increasingly common features of all video content and live talks lately, along with audio-only streams of events for those with “Zoom fatigue.”


Another new addition to the tech sphere is the Metaverse, a term that encompasses technology that allows users to immerse themselves in a digital space, such as virtual reality and simulators. Businesses of all kinds are incorporating the Metaverse into their marketing and actual event experiences, including big names like Gucci. The Metaverse can help associations attract younger event participants, plus it makes many events more accessible to people with disabilities. Another benefit is that, like all virtual events, Metaverse events leave a minimal carbon footprint.

Crisis Management Is a New Concern

Unfortunately, not all developments in association event trends are positive ones, but it’s best to be aware of all sides of event planning and hosting. In addition to covid and seasonal respiratory illnesses, there are other serious worries linked to group assembly these days. Power outages, protests, strikes, armed violence, and cybercrimes are all at the top of the list of problems for which associations should have a contingency plan. Think about the most likely concerns for your group, and you can enjoy your event knowing you’ve done everything possible to make it safe.


If you need assistance planning an event, Jaffe Management is here to help. We specialize in aiding associations with all aspects of operation, including meeting and event services, membership administration, and financial services. Call us today at 212-496-3155 to learn more, or reach out online at: