Let’s exchange the experience: how events have shifted focus

Sarah Tennant, MD of representation agency Star Your World, on how the last few years have increasingly seen experience placed at the heart of events…

Once upon a time, events were all about going to the best place and staying in the top hotels.

But over time that obsession with luxury has shifted slightly, in favour of offering something ‘different’.

Maximising the experience for groups has been a key focus for event planners for several years, but now the trend is becoming even more visible. Planners are looking for more creative and innovative experiences than ever before, and the goal is always to top the last event.

On a recent trip in Ibiza, we had a saxophone player perform on a water jets flyboard overlooking a catamaran cruise as part of the entertainment package. Planners have always sought out exciting experiences, but now it needs to go one step further and be something completely unique.

For many people, the focus has been on ‘money can’t buy’ experiences, where events combine incredible locations with a unique energy. While anyone with enough money can book themselves a luxury safari, it won’t necessarily feel special, unique or tailored to you personally.

With the right imagination and flair, event planners are now able to develop emotional connections for employees at events and incentives through intimate and personalised experiences. Just like customers are looking to connect with the brands they shop with, employees want to feel like they are part of a family when they work for an organisation.

Of course, destination is still important for most companies, though often this is now the catalyst for an amazing theme or event, rather than the whole package. Interest in up and coming destinations is also on the rise, but European cities remain popular thanks to the convenient flight options.

We’re seeing a greater demand for mixed events, with a combination of relaxed and high-end activities included. People are looking for more diversity in events, and our offering reflects this. From street food to luxury gala dinners, you can no longer predict what certain brands will go for. Everything needs to be tailored and personalised to the individual client and brief if it’s going to be successful.