London-based FreemanXP is the creative agency for the Freeman event management company, which operates a TrendLab division that conducts research on event trends and then uses that insight as an experiential marketing and consulting platform.
The latest TrendLab research is: “The Trends Driving The Future of Brand Experience: The Science Behind Personalized Engagements.” It highlights 39 shifts in meeting design and user experience, ranging from the rise of Content Concierges to the value of Social Serendipity.
The report’s highly conceptual online layout resembles a periodic table with the 39 trends appearing as chemical elements. Based on the concept that all of these meeting elements make up the modern-day event industry universe, planners can select elements individually from the periodic table to plug into their programs a la carte.
Each trend in the TrendLab report also has a clickable link to an actual case study or company that illustrates a specific meeting trend/element. Those live examples are a significant takeaway for the user.
“Different agencies and companies have their annual trend reports, and that’s nice, but they don’t do anything with them,” says Jordan Waid, VP of brand experience for FreemanXP. “So what we want to do is have a point of view and a point of difference, and actually apply the trends to real-life scenarios to help businesses.”
The 39 event trends positioned on the TrendLab platform include the aforementioned Content Concierge. The report reads:
Marketers create a groundswell of great content to go with every new brand experience, and it takes an especially good eye to curate the overwhelming surge of sessions, videos, pop-ups, and product launches into an all-encompassing, artistic package post-event. These content concierges are experts at observing an event from the attendee point of view, cherry-picking the must-have content, and putting it together in an informative, actionable, attractive format.
Designer and illustrator Mike Rohde works with event organizers and corporations like SXSW, GE, JESS3 and more to condense and capture conversations and sessions with his unique “sketchnotes” style, both in real-time or after an event.
One of Waid’s favorite trends is called “On Live,” where the boundaries between virtual and live consumer activities are blurring “as people have come to expect their online and offline experiences with a brand to connect seamlessly.”
For a case study for On Live, FreemanXP points to Tesco’s virtual store in Seoul with digital displays of over 500 popular products. Time-pressed commuters can scan barcodes for groceries to be delivered at home in time for dinner.
Live & Virtual TrendLab UX
At previous meeting industry events, including IMEX America in Las Vegas and Confex in London, Waid and his colleagues designed their booth like a laboratory. Everyone wore white lab costs, and the individual meeting trends were printed on colorful boxes matching the hue and visual components of the report.
During those shows, meeting planners were invited to discuss three meeting design challenges that keep them up at night. “And then we would apply different trends that could help their business succeed in new ways,” explains Waid. “We created a whole story world around it and a bit of theater that transports people into a new environment.”
That FreemanXP brand experience and intel is then expanded upon on the XP blog, and the live experience can be recreated onsite at any company’s office as a TrendLab Workshop.
The biggest takeaways here for event professionals don’t necessarily revolve only around the actual 39 meeting trends, some of which will likely come across as a little obvious for experienced planners.
FreemanXP’s experiential marketing itself provides a valuable lesson.
The company is basically advertising its services as an event company by promoting its meeting trends research, and then it’s implementing those trends into its own live event design to showcase those trends in action.