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2020 - Vision Into The Year Ahead

With calendars once again turning the page to a New Year and New Decade Now, Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine looks to the future by asking hospitality industry experts to predict which trends will be worth watching in the year 2020 - and beyond.

Providing insight from a variety of perspectives, each of these hospitality representatives, meeting planning professionals or service providers draws on the unique experiences that have helped shape his or her view of where the industry currently stands, as well as where it could be headed next.

Brian Shields, Director of Sales, Peddler's Village - Lahaska, PA

Hot trends for 2020: Audio-visual equipment will keep developing, such as wireless chargers and high definition LCD projectors; and wedding arches will be making a comeback for ceremonies in 2020!

On Shields’ wish list for the New Year: A strong economy that allows groups to continue to meet and stay at Peddler’s Village.

Abby Homol, Account Manager, Roberts Event Group, a Hosts Global Member, Philadelphia, PA

Anticipated trends for 2020: Conscious take on sustainability; new ways to incorporate branding into the event; less focus on décor and more focus on interactive experiences at events.

Homol’s wish list for 2020 and beyond includes: More décor and elevated themes for events, as well as less formality as part of off-site events. In addition, no more seated dinners with programs, just reception-style to provide more opportunities for guests to network.

Lou Marrocco, President, Brandywine Events, Media, PA

Anticipated top trends for 2020: More clients asking for sustainability, wellness and emergency contingency plans heading into the RFP process and then implemented on the program; and being mindful of the food and beverage needs of attendees pertaining to sustainability, wellness and emergency contingency; also an increase in “food rescue” becoming a decision when it comes to event “leftovers.”

Marrocco’s wish list for the industry in 2020 and beyond: An increased awareness of the industry to be involved in providing opportunities for additional training at all levels of service - community responsibility, increase of pay rates and benefits to line employees; and more cooperation between the “big box” chains together with the small planning companies to accommodate clients’ needs.

Laurie Taylor, Director of Marketing, Cape May Convention Hall, Cape May, NJ

Anticipated top trends for 2020: An increase in “technology centric” meetings that include virtual attendees at remote locations as well as speakers; projector and screen presentations will take a back seat to new innovations - presenters will be able to deliver messages and connect with participants through new devices and software and get real time feedback and interaction.

Taylor’s wish list for the industry in 2020 and beyond: To see the concept of “voluntourism” expand to the meetings and convention industry. Meeting planners could develop “conferences with a cause,” where attendees could connect to the host destination on a more emotional level and give the gift of time or resources to local charities during their stay. With limited funding and resources available for most local charities, this would be a win/win for both the conference organization and the meeting destination.

Meg Jamison, CMP, Manager, Corporate Events, Ricoh USA, Inc., Malvern, PA

Anticipated top trends for 2020: Strict evaluation of return on investment (ROI) regarding meetings, events and trade shows by tracking and proving results. No longer will events/shows be budgeted for the following year without proving the ROI just because they have always held or participated in the event/show in the past. Budgets across the board are lower.

Jamison’s wish list for the industry in 2020 and beyond: That management realizes that face-to-face meetings and participation in trade shows (networking, education, training, reward trips, brand awareness) are invaluable to attendees and that these events shouldn’t be based strictly on the ROI (dollar).

Terri Hegyi, Director of Meeting Event Management, ONE-CALL Concierge Specialist, Ewing, NJ

Anticipated top trends for 2020: Continue to have a big impact with digitalization technology. Event apps for meeting and event planners will be a major platform for sourcing destinations. Using new technology, virtual and social media will allow attendees remote access in order to immerse more attendees as a way to experience destinations. (Although, personally, I prefer the direct one-on-one in-person meets and on-site visits before making decisions on host locations.)

Hegyi’s wish list for the industry in 2020 and beyond: Being able to have one contact to access all of one’s meeting planning processes when sourcing versus having to meet with individual heads of departments as a way to streamline. Also, the hotel industry needs to offer and involve CVB services more often to planners, no matter the size meeting that is being planned. Having such a partnership would benefit all involved in executing a more collaborative experience.

Rob Carachilo, Principal and Event Producer, Roberts Event Group, Philadelphia, PA

Anticipated top trends for 2020: The continuation of festive lights, outdoor looks, vibrant colors, along with “wow moments” as part of an event.

Carachilo’s wish list for the industry in 2020 and beyond: Extended stays for travelers to experience more leisure activities within the region.

Glynis Keith, Senior Sales and Event Manager, Catering By Seasons, College Park, MD

Anticipated top trends for 2020: Planners will approach catering with a more focused eye toward mindfulness - for the planet, the local community and attendees; looking for vendors who share values as well as vision - a catering partner to help create menus that incorporate ingredients that can be locally sourced, reducing waste and taking into account the dietary needs of those in attendance.

Greater eco-centricity is another anticipated trend. Catering by Seasons’ trademarked Seeds to Celebrations program gives the opportunity to work with the caterer side-by-side to plan, plant, nurture and harvest many of the items that will be served to guests. Also, reducing food waste and looking for creative and delicious menus that take into account various dietary needs of guests (gluten free, nut-free, vegetarian or vegan).

Keith’s wish list for the industry in 2020 and beyond: Industry associations taking the lead in providing eco-friendly education and/or alternatives to their members… a high-level shift so that the caterers, florists, stationers, et al have the tools and resources to share with clients. And, then - rather than respond to a trend - forge the path to make all events greener.

Kathryn Lezynski, Program and Event Coordinator, Roberts Event Group, Philadelphia, PA

Anticipated top trends for 2020: More money put into interactive experiences and activities to create “wow” moments for guests, and less money spent on “nicer” hotel rooms, upscale meeting spaces, etc.; also less focus on human interaction in venues, hotels, etc. with more of a focus on technology to assist with guest experiences, completing tasks, etc.

Lezynski’s wish list for the industry in 2020: Sustainability measures to assist with the creation of less event waste, and finding creative ways to incorporate sustainable aspects to every event.

Cindy E. Rossi, Senior Director, Programs and Special Events, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Anticipated top trends for 2020: Serving wine on tap as it is eco-friendly, offers consistent quality and taste, plus provides cost savings and ease of operation; and donating florals where they can be redesigned and delivered to hospitals, shelters and other care facilities (through resources such as

Rossi’s wish list for the industry in 2020 and beyond: More mentorship from experienced planners to junior planners - and cross training with various types of events; greater work life/family life balance for planners who work long hours and who have to travel (it’s a priority for me as a supervisor).

Kavin Schieferdecker, Senior Vice President, Convention Division, Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, Philadelphia, PA

Anticipated top trends for 2020: Philadelphia will continue to attract positive media coverage - similar to the recent Nat Geo list - relating to the greatness of the city as a destination.

Schieferdecker’s wish list for the industry in 2020 and beyond: To give everyone that is considering Philadelphia for a meeting or convention a complimentary flight and hotel room to visit the city and walk the streets, see the vibrancy and experience the restaurants, attractions and the city’s authenticity.

Rachele Canazaro, Program and Event Coordinator, Roberts Event Group, Philadelphia, PA

Anticipated top trends for 2020: I believe that 2020 will be a fresh start for corporate and social events. One top trend that I hope to see continuing to progress and move forward is sustainability. This has always been a trend, but has always struggled with trying to come and be the front runner. I hope to see this become the number one trend. As event planners, we are responsible for events and the impact that they can create on the planet. Without us pushing to make a change, who else will?

Another top trend I see taking 2020 by storm is planning events virtually. We need to take advantage of this and push to do more planning on the big screen. Planning all events virtually - including site visits, video meetings, floor plans and more - can cut down on waste and make it easier for your client and for you! Not all clients may want this, but it might be something different they would like to have as an option available to them.

Canazaro’s wish list for the industry in 2020 and beyond: To continue to see the hospitality and event industry grow into more corporate and social events. Also, hope to see the following improve and/or grow over the next year: improving event Wi-Fi; security on-site at events; data decision-making to improve as part of future events; and unique and different venue experiences.

Jim Cohn, Publisher and Editor, Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine, Huntingdon Valley, PA

Anticipated top trends for 2020: More culinary experiences at properties and destinations, such as interactive cooking events.

Greeters at registration or venue entranceways (even in parking lots) as this is the first welcome point to an event.

Relationships will remain very strong within the hospitality and event industries. The relationships that have been forged help special events to be created and produced smoothly and creatively when industry partners are called upon to work together.

Finally, name that attendee! Lanyards being produced two-sided with the attendees’ names printed on both sides will happen more frequently - this isn’t something new or technologically progressive, it’s just practical. Many badges tend to flip over to show the event schedule or a logo during a convention or trade show.

Steve Wildemann, President, Advanced Staging Productions

Anticipated top trends for 2020: The use of LED will continue to evolve, offering event producers more creative choices as prices begin to come down and make LED more attainable. The wide variety of options - from hi-res screens for indoor content to flexible panels that can create a myriad of scenic looks to new lighting fixtures that provide ultimate programmability and a reduced power draw - the options for LED are endless.

Wildemann's wish list for the industry in 2020 and beyond: I would like to see the recognition that planners have freedom of choice when it comes to using external vendors in supposed "exclusive venues." There are many instances when using a vetted, high quality, internal resource makes sense, but planners need to be savvy and protect their right to do what is best for their clients. An internal resource should be able to stand on its own merits and not have to resort to tied selling around Internet, power and rigging services to win business. Planners have leverage early in the process and need to protect their clients’ rights before signing a venue contract.

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