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March 7, 2024

Eventex events industry trends: Intimate gatherings

With Jeremy Driesen, President, Ray Bloch Productions

With the pandemic long behind us, live events have returned in full force and continue to dominate the industry agenda. That said, they have come back with a twist, with an emphasis on quality over quantity, as evidenced in The Eventex Events Industry Trends Report. While scale still matters, intimacy, personalization, and engagement will make an event memorable and by implication — successful. That’s why we’ll take a closer look into intimate gatherings and how to organize them.

The ins and outs of intimate gatherings 

Intimate gatherings underscore people’s need for meaningful experiences, and it is up to the events industry to deliver them. Note that intimate gatherings don’t necessarily need to involve a limited number of people, but rather, need to provide the feeling of intimacy through their components. Let’s see how it works. 

Make each attendee feel they’re not just another face in the crowd 

While events are about togetherness, that doesn’t mean that attendees want to feel just like another face in the crowd. The first tip to intimate gatherings is to make each individual member of the audience feel like a specific aspect of the event was created just for them. This starts with identifying your target audience and taking it into account when planning your event. 

An event does not have to be intimate to feel intimate

While logically it seems that an intimate event should have a limited number of people, this is not necessarily true – you can still infuse a larger-scale event with the feeling of intimacy. Here’s how to do that: 

  • Have a friendly face at the registration desk — this will help you set a welcoming tone and influence your attendees’ perception of your event from the get-go. 
  • Bet on welcoming decor — this will impact the overall feeling of your event.
  • Consider your swag bags carefully — bet on more personalized items based on your target audience, rather than going for generic, across-the-board swag.

Create opportunities for meaningful conversations  

This is another tip that not only applies to larger gatherings as well but is in fact quite essential to help create a feeling of intimacy. You can: 

  • Allocate time for 1:1 meetings in your event agenda.
  • Create networking opportunities for your attendees. 
  • Leverage your venue layout to incorporate lounge and networking zones. 

Facilitate gatherings for smaller audience subsets 

For bigger events (both in terms of attendance and duration), you can consider organizing activities for smaller subsets of people that will not only increase the feeling of intimacy but will also boost engagement. You can do that by incorporating smaller gatherings at satellite locations into your agenda such as: 

  • Bespoke dinners
  • Golf outings 
  • Sunrise yoga 

This will give your attendees the chance to make those meaningful connections that they came for. 

Plan for fun time and leisure activities 

If you are organizing a conference, don’t fill your agenda to the brim with lectures, seminars, workshops, etc., but allocate time for fun and leisure activities. This approach will make your event feel more like a getaway rather than a business trip and will allow for more natural networking. 

Get creative if you are working on a tight budget 

While some of the above tips (such as organizing special activities for smaller subsets of people) necessitate larger budgets, there are lower-cost options as well. You can opt to do something unexpected for your audience that would generate buzz and promote the creation of connections. Take a look at a couple of ideas:

  • Set up a game during lunch hour.
  • Organize a cocktail scavenger hunt. 

Unexpected shared experiences like these will help foster genuine connections among your attendees. 

Think beyond the event 

Your work on an intimate gathering doesn’t end with the event itself. A truly intimate gathering will help form connections and you can walk the extra mile to help sustain them, encouraging post-event engagement from attendees. Consider sending out a post-event thank you email, a survey, sharing relevant content, or following up with an invitation to another event — there are multiple possibilities to keep the momentum going. 

Making connections 

Events are about togetherness and making a connection, and creating the feeling of intimacy at your gatherings will help achieve both, regardless of the event scale. 

And if you are looking for an event to help you form a meaningful partnership, Eventex B2B Match is coming up on April 17-18, 2024.  

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