As hard as it is to believe, 2019 is now halfway over! In the last six months, Red Velvet Events has launched a lot of exciting and successful event experiences, and our next six months promise to be bigger and more fun than ever.

Now that we’re taking a moment to look back, we can see some clear trends in events of all kinds. These common themes aren’t just happening in Austin – they’re going on nationally and, in many cases, internationally.

So what’s hot right now? What did we see coming, and what’s taken us by surprise? Kristen Lowe and Catherine Roepke have some great takes on the trends they’re seeing today, and some predictions on what they think we’ll be seeing tomorrow.

Now that 2019 is halfway over, I’m curious about the event and design trends you’ve been seeing over the last six months. What trends have been developing in Austin, around the country, or internationally?

Kristen: 1) Everything has to be instagrammable. This isn’t necessarily a new thing, but photo booths are no longer just pretty backdrops. With the popularity of social media, photo ops at events are interactive, tell a story and incorporate fun props more than ever. This extends beyond the traditional photo booth as well — we find that guests take photos with everything, from chalkboards to branded items to food displays!

2) Sustainability. Companies are becoming more conscious and striving to leave the smallest footprint possible. Whether they accomplish that through reducing waste, utilizing recycled materials, printing with plant-based inks, cutting down on plastic, implementing recycling systems, or even selecting more sustainable meal options, the focus on sustainability at events is steadily growing.

3) Monochromatic design. One trend I have seen a lot is the limited use of color. It can be incredibly impactful to add dimension through various objects and textures of the same color.

4) Playful engagement. Everyone is getting in touch with their playful side! From fun customized ball pits to massive coloring walls to adult slides, attendees are encouraging attendees to play and rekindle their childlike wonder.

5) Balloons. Balloons are everywhere: in entrances, archways, and ceilings. They are the perfect way to call attention, add dimension, and incorporate pops of color to almost any space.

6) Technology. All over the world, planners are experimenting with how technology can play a bigger part in their events and guest experiences, whether they accomplish this by adding an interactive or gamified component or by seamlessly utilizing apps for registration to gather better statistics on a company’s ROI. The desire to incorporate technology into events is here to stay and will only increase in the future.

Catherine: 1) Instagrammable moments. The phrase “If you didn’t Instagram it, did it really happen?” is so real for our attendees. They want to be able to share the experiences they are having! So in addition to having a dedicated photo opportunity, I like to think of ways to make each event element something worthy being Instagrammed.

2) Sustainability. It’s becoming more important on the world stage, so naturally it makes sense that sustainability is becoming more of a factor in our industry as well. Going paperless, using biodegradable or compostable dinnerware instead of plastic disposables, and donating leftover foods are just a few ways that event professionals are being more mindful of the footprint their events are leaving.

3) Creative branding. Branding goes beyond just putting a company’s name and logo everywhere. It’s all about the overall look and feel of the event. For example: For the Red Velvet Events Open House, you would have easily known you were in the right place without even seeing an office sign. Everything was red, from the red carpets welcoming guests outside to the signature red “R” that was repeated throughout the event (even on the ice cubes!) to the red ombre buffet.

What’s been the most surprising, unanticipated, or out-of-nowhere event/design trend(s) you’ve see over the past six months?

Kristen: It blows my mind that facial recognition is now a part of the events world. In a world fueled by technology, it was only a matter of time; but I still can’t believe how fast technology is advancing.

Catherine: For me personally, it’s been the comeback of balloons! Recently, I think we’ve seen some really creative teams breathe life back into what was considered a more traditional design element. I have loved seeing the creative ways that people have been incorporating balloons into their events, whether that be as a statement wall (like the Balloon Collective did at the ILEA Austin Awards recently – so cool!), a balloon garland as an accent, or giant balloon letters. In a lot of ways, we’re seeing that balloons are no longer just an accent to the overall design. They’ve become the focal piece!

How do you stay on top of what’s new and trendy in events/design?

Kristen: I really find that it’s important to get inspiration from everywhere, not just the events industry. It’s so important to consider current events and pop culture to know what’s fresh on peoples’ minds and what’s influencing their perceptions. I also think it is important to subscribe to frequent recaps of events around the world, so you can be familiar with what is trending and either take it a step further in your own events or avoid the fads completely. I like to think that we tend to pitch things that aren’t trendy…at least, they haven’t become trendy yet!

Catherine: I love hopping onto Instagram and sites like BizBash to see what is going on in the world of events! I like to follow a wide variety of companies and event professionals of different types and in different markets to keep up with what’s trending for corporate events, social events, weddings, etcetera. Seeing the variety keeps me inspired and also inspires me to think outside the box on how something that is trending in weddings could be transformed or taken a step further and work for one of my corporate clients.

What event or design trend(s) do you really hope will rise in popularity before the end of 2019?

Kristen: I would LOVE to see more events catering to the various personality types of attendees. For example, we have planned conferences that offer special colored lanyards for attendees to provide consent as to whether or not they want to be photographed or recorded. A majority of folks may not think twice about being photographed, but for some, having this option can provide the security and comfort they need to feel empowered to share their ideas more openly.

Catherine: I would love to see events continue to be more experiential! Attendees don’t just want to show up and see the event – they want to be a part of it. For example, at the recent grand re-opening of the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, one of our biggest inspirations was their motto of bringing the outside in. Naturally, we had a lot of beautiful floral and greenery in the plans; but we took it a step further by having living floral statues. Floral designs are always beautiful, but incorporating them into living, breathing performers that our guests could interact with took it to the next level!