Here’s some great news; according to the 2019 Meetings & Events Future Trends demand for meetings will grow five to ten percent in 2019. The small meetings planning cycle will be more than one month and for large groups the average planning time is expected to be 75+ days. Group sizes should increase by fourteen percent.

However, it’s the implementation of new and not-so-new technology initiatives that are going to make the difference for 2019 events. These include uses of AI, VR, AR, social media and innovative sponsorship packages. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Artificial Intelligence

There are many programs on this front, but here are the four that are front and center for the meetings industry.

  • Facial Recognition – already implemented with smartphones and tablets, look for events to utilize this technology more this year. While it does require some setup, the overall benefits include faster check-in time, greater safety and improved digital reach.
  • Digital Assistants — ComScore estimates that more than 50 percent of searches will be voice-based by 2020. Digital Assistants can answer attendee questions such as, “Where is my next session?” or “What is the booth number for ABC company?” Look for digital assistants to be located throughout the event space.
  • Chatbot – This is the little screen on a website that allows a user to ask questions or provides guidance through a process or help topic. While some programming is required, these bots can be very useful to attendees and reduce support staffing needs.
  • Real-time translations — Google Translate, Naver Papago and Microsoft Translator are all neural, voice activated apps that can save organizations thousands of dollars on human capital. These apps can help cross over language barriers typically present at international conferences.

Virtual & Augmented Reality

VR allows live and remote attendees to experience the same thing. After your event, you can upload your 360 videos to the YouTube Virtual Reality Channel that will allow individuals to view the content at any time as long as they have a VR headset. Unsure about VR? Try Kalahari’s The Arena out at one of our resort properties!

AR can reside on a smartphone (think Pokémon Go) or be accessed on a headset. Used primarily with gamification, it allows static objects to come to life by adding characters and objects that are only viewable within the app or headset.

Social Media

While brands have hired celebrity influencers for years, you don’t have go this route. Incentivize sponsors, exhibitors and/or attendees to promote your conference. Ask a select group of individuals who have a large following on certain channels (Instagram, Twitter or Facebook) to write content before and during your conference. Confirm they will use your event’s hashtag for each posting.

VIP Treatment

According to Shawna Suckow, attendees, vendors, sponsors and exhibitors are seeking VIP management when they come to a conference. Offer exclusive experiences such as behind the scenes tours, a one-on-one meeting with your company’s CEO or exclusive leisure activities based on their interests.


Now more than ever, organizations require time to plan their sponsorship dollars. Because these commitments can be lost within the event noise, potential promoters are always on the lookout for innovative ways to help spread the word about their brands. Here are four ways to do so:

  • SmartExhibit is a large, smart mat that collects critical data from the event or trade show floor. Companies can place their logos on the mat and know on a real-time basis how many people were on it and how long they stayed there.
  • According to Suckow, sponsors no longer want logo soup. What is that? She gave an example of fifty brands on the back of a tee-shirt. No one is differentiated, and the logos are so small they are hard to see. She suggests creating sponsorships relative to our five senses – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. These types of sponsors won’t cost your supporters an arm and a leg but can really set each one apart from the other.
  • If the organization is technology based, branded filters on AR apps, Snapchat or Facebook, are very popular.
  • Sponsors like to be tied to a Corporate Sustainability Responsibility initiative. If your organization is raising money for a cause, sponsors may match the money raised at your event. They may provide the goods (books, computers or canned items) or donate more to the cause. Kalahari has several CSR activities they participate in throughout the year.

Kalahari in 2019

Kalahari Resorts & Conventions is fully prepared to help event planners with these meeting and sponsorship initiatives.  Give our group sales professionals a call at 855.411.4605 or fill out our contact form to schedule a site visit today!