New year, new trends: The evolution of event management never ceases, and neither does the ever-changing landscape of event trends. But it can be hard to single-handedly predict exciting future trends in event planning and management — which is why we’ve compiled a list of 10 event trends for 2020 sure to make an impression on your meeting or conference’s guests.

We’ve sorted our 2020 event trends into 5 categories:

Event Planning Trends

This year, it’s all about fun venues and more face-time with fewer attendees! Event planning market trends indicate that as 2020 progresses, event planners will be seeking out unique venues capable of hosting more intimate events. We’ll see event planning trends move away from massive, ballroom-filling conferences, honing in instead on groups of 100 or less.

Event Planning Trend #1: Smaller, More Intimate Events

Sometimes, bigger isn’t better. According to Marketing Insider Group, consumers are “increasingly demanding authenticity from brands and are distrustful of big business.” That means the way forward must include more quality face-to-face interactions with event attendees — and less attendees in general. 2019’s event planning trends telegraphed this move toward smaller events: The average event group size last year was less than 100 in the U.S. and Asia, and less than 50 in Europe!

Key Takeaway: Think of your event as a way to build relationships and trust with your guests. Small groups naturally evoke feelings of kinship and camaraderie, which will translate to warmer business relationships post-event.

Event Planning Trend #2: Non-Traditional Venues

According to a recent survey by Endless Events, 53% of event planners said moving away from hotel venues to more unique venues would be the biggest location trend of 2020. A non-traditional venue, like an outdoor space, barn, or library, can make your event memorable and encourage creativity.

Key Takeaway: Be sure to look beyond hotels and huge conference centers as you plan your 2020 events — and start looking early, as many unique venues will likely be snatched up quick!

Event Design Trends

It’s the dawn of a new decade, and event theme trends will evoke feelings of a fresh start. As worries regarding the future of the planet become unavoidable and folks grow tired of the high-drama, more-more-more news cycle, event planners would be wise to recycle maximalist ideals, transforming them instead to simplified, sustainable event aesthetics.

Event Design Trend #1: Sustainability

Yes, the National Association for Catering & Events says shades of green will be the “it” color this year, but in 2020, events are going green in more ways than one. The climate change conversation and environmental concerns dominated much of 2019 in the media and beyond, and sustainability is primed to be at the center of many 2020 events. According to a 2017 study, 86% of consumers expect companies to act on social and environmental issues, and that number is only expected to grow — so make sure your event shows you talk the talk and walk the walk.

Key Takeaway: Cut down on your event’s carbon footprint and make guests feel good: Offer sustainable menus like vegan, plant-based or locally-sourced meals, eliminate single-use plastics from your event, and include planet-friendly swag in recycled-material gift bags.

Carbon footprint of an event pie chart from Green Meeting NinjasImage source:

Event Design Trend #2: Minimalist Design

Corporate events will take a cue from the bridal industry in 2020. Since 2018 or so, weddings have been leaning toward a clean, minimalist aesthetic over gilded ballrooms and over-the-top decor, and in 2020, event design trends will follow suit. Event planners will increasingly look to venues with sprawling open space and striking industrial features as blank slates for their event designs. But that doesn’t mean your event is constrained to bland colors and bare-bones features: A minimalist theme is a perfect backdrop for a bold pop of color in your company’s palette or neon signage to make a memorable splash.

Key Takeaway: Remember, less is more! A stripped-down venue can allow your decor choices to pack a more meaningful punch, and will sear your unique event into the minds of your guests.

Event Entertainment Trends

Event entertainment trends in 2020 are all about interaction and immersion: Attendees want to lose themselves in an experience they share with others. It’s time to get creative with your entertainment ideas, bringing in live entertainment elements as well as cutting-edge digital reality tech to keep your guests engaged and excited.

Event Entertainment Trend #1: Live Interactive Entertainment

Yes, guests are craving face-time beyond schmoozing with the event hosts and fellow attendees! In the same Endless Events survey, more than 78% of event planners said immersive experiences will take the top spot above all other entertainment options in 2020. Think escape rooms, puppy playpens and hybrid entertainment that blends artistic elements like live music or theater with digital elements like interactive screens or filmed footage.

Key Takeaway: Everyone is seeking connection, even in their corporate events: The more live elements you can incorporate into your event entertainment in 2020, the better!

Event Entertainment Trend #2: Virtual & Augmented Reality

Speaking of “immersive”: Virtual and augmented reality will take center stage at conferences in 2020, both as event entertainment and as components of presentations and displays. Virtual reality headsets can be used for games and virtual tours, while augmented reality applications can bring virtual elements into your IRL event space, often more affordably and accessibly than its VR counterparts, according to Marketing Insider Group.

Key Takeaway: Make the digital landscape work for you — literally. Use VR or AR technology to create interactive product demonstrations and venue maps, help attendees connect and network, and provide entertainment and engagement opportunities.

Catering Trends

Catering will trend toward healthy options in 2020, with more requests for menus that benefit the body, mind and planet. Think non-alcoholic beverages that go beyond soda and plant-based meals so divine, no one will be asking “Where’s the meat?”

Catering Trend #1: Beverages Go Zero-Proof & Local

“Wellness” is 2020’s buzzword, and what could be more wholesome than a zero-proof bevvie, the artist formerly known as a “mocktail?” Guests are opting for non-alcoholic cocktails, especially at work events, for a variety of health and wellness reasons, according to Forbes. For those who do imbibe, locally-sourced craft beer, wine, liquor and ingredients are the popular pours for 2020, particularly because of the added element of novelty for guests who traveled to attend your event.

Key Takeaway: Make sure your non-alcoholic beverage options are just as exciting as your cocktail list by using locally-made components like shrubs and syrups. On the other side of the bar, guests from out of town will delight in trying local spirits, beers and wine.

Catering Trend #2: Plant-Based Plates

The wellness trend continues onto the dinner table, where attendees aren’t just seeking out plant-based options; they’re expecting them. Modern Restaurant Management predicts that in 2020, caterers will see more requests for plant-based menus than ever, swapping out meat for jackfruit and dairy for oat milk.

Key Takeaway: Plant-based menus show guests you genuinely care about the environment and their own dietary requirements. Take a page out of the 2020 Golden Globes’ book and plan plant-based menus that are dietary-restriction-friendly as well as friendly to our planet.

Bar graph of U.S. Consumers who identify as flexitarian, vegetarian, or vegan in 2018, by generation
Image source:

Conference Trends

Trends in the conference industry in 2020 will balance business with pleasure — and personalization — in a major way. Break-out sessions will get a bespoke makeover, allowing conference attendees to get the most out of their experience, while corporate event planners will accommodate the “bleisure” trend by showcasing the fun and relaxation to be had at their venue and beyond.

Conference Trend #1: Personalized Break-Out Session Paths

You can never go wrong with personalization, but in 2020 corporate events will see the tailored-to-you trend will branch out even further. 47% of event planners surveyed by Endless Events said tailored break-out session paths would be the biggest conference personalization trend of 2020. These days, attendees would much rather experience your conference like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach to enrichment.

Key Takeaway: Give conference guests the opportunity to select break-out session paths from a variety of options for a more satisfying, personalized experience.

Conference Trend #2: “Bleisure”-Aware Events

“Bleisure” — yep, that’s the trend of blending “business” with “leisure” while traveling — is more popular than ever, especially with Millennials, according to Travel Agent Central. Conferences will find a recipe for success by capitalizing on a venue within a scenic, explorable locale, partnering with hotels that offer lush amenities like spas, golf courses and bicycle rentals, and even fitting guided tours, yoga classes and fun outings into the event schedule itself!

Key Takeaway: Remember: Especially if conference guests travelled to attend, they’d probably like to actually experience their destination! Factor available leisure activities and amenities into both your conference itinerary and your event marketing strategy.

"Blesiure is Booming" bar chart from ExpediaImage source:, “Unpacking Bleisure Traveler Trends”

Ready to Tackle These Trends?

The latest trends in event management make it an exciting time to be planning a meeting or conference. When it comes to finding the perfect venue for 2020’s hottest corporate event, we hope you’ll consider Earle Brown. Our event planners are experts in what’s trending, and can help you bring your vision to life. Contact us today to get started on harnessing 2020’s most innovative trends for your next extraordinary event.