On Trend

Engagement Trends Emerging in March/April 2024

Engagement Trends Emerging in March/April 2024

Explore how trends in slowing down, hobby culture, humanity > AI, and wellness pursuits are transforming how attendees participate in our events.
The newest edition of Opus Agency’s Talent Spotlight report is here.

Explore the top four engagement trends emerging in March/April below, then head over to the full report for more cultural moments, speaker recommendations, entertainment trends, and talent recommendations. 

Slowing Down 

In a fast-paced world where many people feel disconnected, there is a massive shift toward slower living. 73% of people wish they could slow down the pace of their lives, and this desire has led to consumers seeking out slower hobbies and mindfulness.

Here are some ways planners can provide opportunities for attendees to slow down during the hustle and bustle. 

  • Build Your Own Conference Agenda: Allow attendees to chart their own paths with a build-your-own agenda. This approach puts the power in the hands of the attendees, and they can choose where and when they take a break.
  • Leisurely Incentives: During your incentive programs, include plenty of free time for your attendees and their plus ones to simply enjoy. Make recommendations for daily activities, and in the evenings, convene as a group to hear from leadership and celebrate accomplishments together. 
  • Quiet Rooms: Quiet spaces and meditation rooms are a leading trend in B2B events. These spaces support mental health needs, provide attendees with solace, and often include cozy seating, sensory lighting, and fidget toys. 
  • In-Home Aesthetic: Consider opting for something cozier with in-home aesthetics instead of big, bold productions. When it comes to staging, there is a trend towards eliminating the minimal, open floor concept and building out in-home aesthetic environments that are more inviting—like sitting in someone’s living room. This trend can apply to keynotes, panel sessions, expo floors, and booth activations as brands create a cozy space for connecting with their audience.
Credit: Wall Street Journal, 'The Future of Everything'

Hobbyists Unite

Among the haste of life and the social pressures, there has been a noticeable push to unplug and pursue joy. This trend has led to people adopting hobbies to use their time and develop a new skill purely for enjoyment. With an uptick in hobbyist creators and a rise in tactile hobbies and hobby-focused resolutions, there is a clear desire for more tactical, unplugged activities to fill our days this year. In our events, we can provide opportunities for attendees to try out new hobbies and tap into some of their favorites:

  • Cooking Classes: Organize small-group cooking classes for your culinarily curious attendees. Incorporate local products and flavors to make the experience even more memorable.
  • Participative Imprinting: Drive connective action with participative imprinting. Invite attendees to leave their mark and connect through various interactive activations and cultural initiatives like collaborative art installations or mood boards. 
  • DIY and Craft Stations: Set up stations for attendees to engage in crafts like friendship bracelets, watercolors, or keychains. This therapeutic experience is sure to spark networking among participants. 
  • Community Gardening: Organize time for attendees to build a community garden to benefit a local non-profit organization. You can also get creative with gardening activations like Nature Fresh Farms’ mobile greenhouse to bring this hands-on hobby onsite.

Humanity > AI

The more AI permeates our technology, the more crucial human connection becomes to consumers. In a study by VML, respondents expressed a significant preference for humans over AI-produced media, from TV and music to branded communication. 

Humans thrive on authentic human connection, and in a new era of AI-generated deepfakes, in-person experiences will be key to establishing trust with consumers. In our events, we should strive for purposeful AI integration rather than implementing it just for the sake of it. At our events, we should balance experiential AI and genuine human interaction to ensure a fulfilling experience for attendees. Some ways to do this include:

  • Live Music and Art: Go analog with your entertainment by booking live musical artists and bands. Similarly, opt for live mural artists or showcase AI artists rather than relying solely on AI-generated art.
  • Strategic (AI)ntegration: Integrating AI into your event can be a powerful tool, and brands and attendees alike want to explore its potential. However, it’s important to use AI strategically to ensure it enhances rather than detracts from your event goals. 
  • Authentic Content: In the era of AI-written everything, maintain authenticity by avoiding AI-generated content. Instead, consider engaging content formats that resonate, steering away from traditional keynotes to keep the authenticity factor high. These formats may include crowd-sourced interviews for speaker sessions and live Q&A panels.

Investment Wellness

Facing a future of uncertainty, Gen Z is investing in a better quality of life. They are filling their lives with more joy—luxury gyms, concert tickets, nice dinners, whatever makes them happy—as a way to seize the moment. More than other generations, Gen Z prioritizes constant personal growth and feels more fulfilled by investing in wellness practices rather than saving for an unknown future. To apply this trend to events, consider the following strategies:

  • Value-First Marketing: Young professionals want to invest in experiences, which makes our jobs easier as event marketers. Indicate the value of attending in your marketing, and the registration will follow. 
  • Diversified Wellness Experiences: Go beyond typical wellness activities like yoga sessions and meditation workshops to bring diverse and personalized wellness experiences to your audience. This starts with gaining a clear understanding of what makes your attendees feel the most fulfilled and curating experiences that resonate most. Would your audience prefer a library with a book exchange? A quiet room? A cooking class? Gaming room? Wellness looks different for everyone.
  • Personal Growth: Curate unique experiences within your event to cater to personal growth and development. These experiences may include workshops on financial wellness, self-improvement, goal-setting, or skill-building. 
  • Certifications and Learning: Offer special courses for attendees to earn credentials and certifications during your event. This personal development option will appeal to young professionals and may be the deciding factor for their boss to sponsor their attendance.

Credit: Getty Images for Spotify

Want More?

Head over to the full report to explore more engagement and entertainment trends and listen and learn about emerging talent.

More Like This, Delivered to You

As our agency continues to explore the future of experiences, you can join us and leaders from Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, and many more of our clients to stay ahead of what’s next by subscribing to XO. Each month, you’ll receive our latest insights and perspectives, plus carefully curated links worthy of your next new tab.

Explore More

Insights in
the Inbox

XO is a newsletter with a mission to be loved by marketing executives and event professionals.

Through careful curation and purposeful prose, XO serves thousands of leaders who want to stay on top of what’s new and what’s next in the world of experiences.

To join in, see past issues or subscribe below.