Events are becoming a powerful tool around the world to create brand loyalty, introduce products, and generate revenue for organizations. Insomniac's wild success with EDC style events around the United States demonstrates how influential events can be. Additionally, 79% of surveyed marketers in the US said they use events to generate increased sales.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the event industry is likely to grow 44% by 2020, which is significant in an economy that is becoming more digital and, consequently, more virtual. Part of the reason is that Millennials on the whole look for authenticity in the brands they select, and events are a great way to create authentic experiences with a brand.

Consumer surveys also identified that 87% of consumers purchase products related to a brand's event after attending, confirming the marketing power of events. Despite this growth, innovation in events has been stagnant, and the industry has only recently begun to engage with new technologies to help meet the demand of a more tech savvy event goer.

A growing number of startups and event organizers are working to upgrade the industry and develop solutions that help marketers more effectively leverage events while improving the overall consumer experience. The following are 3 trends to watch in 2017 that will begin to change the events industry.

Ticketing Receiving Much Needed Upgrades

As the first generation of digital natives becomes a more important consumer group, the need for seamless online ticketing experiences has become critical for venues and event organizers. The trouble is the limited number of options and quality ticketing vendors has made for minimal innovation. Neetu Bhatia is the CEO and founder of Kyazoonga, an online ticketing platform that works with events all around the world. She shares why Kyazoonga is working to simplify and upgrade ticketing. "From the client's/inventory owner's perspective, ticketing is increasingly about establishing a higher touch point with fans. This is enabling deeper engagement and the ability to deliver content offerings based on fan interests. Also, with cloud-based ticketing systems, clients can access and manage the ticketing back-end in a much simpler and easier fashion than the older terminal based systems - now anyone with a mobile smartphone can become a ticketing POS."

Mobile is just one aspect of ticketing that needed an upgrade. Until recently ticketing was a cost center for events that did little more than allow access. New technologies are enabling ticketing providers to be revenue generators instead of expense centers. Companies can leverage ticketing to provide an end-to-end user experience to the fan rather than just a transactional exercise of purchasing a ticket. Some of those experiences include help with taxis and rideshare services.

Tools like these allow for better user experiences. And the opportunity to increase revenue is a value add for the industry. Bhatia explained, "Ticketing services can offer merchandise so people can purchase their team jersey in advance and arrive at the venue prepared to root for their team. They can also integrate things like parking, popcorn and drinks with your purchase so that users can book an entire experience rather than having several different touch points for each of these that increases the friction in the user experience." Locations that effectively deploy these technologies actually create a net revenue positive solution for event organizers.

DIY Events and Meetups Are Growing

Websites like Meetup have created an entire sub-industry for events. While most are small local gatherings that don't generate revenue for any particular brand, some are growing in size and significance. One notable example is an event series called Word Camp that frequently meets all around the United States to bring together WordPress developers to share ideas and solutions for their clients.

More and more websites are popping up to service these DIY events, providing ticketing services and different event planning advice. Even larger brands are factoring in small self-service ticketing platforms to help facilitate this new trend. While the space is still developing and it remains to be seen how much value there is in these events, the widespread adoption of the format indicates there may be significant long-term potential for the industry.

Virtual Reality Experiences Enhance Events

There is a lot of talk, especially in the sporting industry, about the possibility that virtual reality might completely replace event attendance in the future. While this may be a distant possibility, what's more likely is that VR will open up events to consumers who otherwise couldn't afford to attend, and enhance the effectiveness of the event. For example, a person who watches sporting events at home for free because tickets are too expensive might be willing to pay a smaller fee to participate in a VR viewing of the game with courtside seats.

Additionally, VR has the potential to enhance events like trade shows. VR headsets are regularly used at events like CES to demo new products, share visual media, and introduce new ideas to consumers. With the growing popularity of VR headsets like Google Cardboard and the GearVR, it is very likely that the number of VR experiences for events will increase throughout 2017.

As existing brands and event organizers engage with these new technologies, it will be critical to evaluate potential partners based on how easily their tech can be integrated with current systems, and whether or not they have experience in the scale of event that your company is organizing. Keep in mind which companies can help generate revenue rather than create cool but costly add-ons to your event. As the number of innovative startups in the events industry grows there will no doubt be countless providers that will help event organizers increase attendance and develop new revenue streams at events.