In 2005, Facebook was a newborn. (In fact, it was still called “The Facebook“.) The first video was shared on YouTube. A tweet was the noise a bird made. A hash tag was the symbol for “number.”

In 2005, the United States was shook by the disastrous Hurricane Katrina. The President was George W. Bush. Benedict XVI was elected Pope at age 78.

Popular music came from artists such as Green Day, Mariah Carey and The Black Eyed Peas. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Batman Begins hit the silver screen.

A lot has changed since 2005. From education to travel, our means of expression to our basic human interactions, changes have seeped into every aspect of our society.

In event planning, ten years has changed the face of the industry.

“Event planning is a billion-dollar industry that isn’t going away. As an event planner, you have to be ever ready to change and meet the needs of the newest trends if you want to survive and be a success,” said Caitlin Webster, Events and Conferences Manager at St. Bonaventure University.


Events are different: how we organize them; how we get to them; where we go; what we drink; how we save resources; how we interact during them; and how we record them.

How we organize

Event planning has become a community. Communities form long before the start of the event and continue long after it has occurred. Technology has helped event communities have a longer life-cycle. People can stay more connected to what is going on with the event without having to meet face-to-face.

“We used to be so bogged down with piles of paperwork, paper files, binders, mailings and non-smart phones,” explains Webster. “Now we can be interacting with our clients in real time, as our phones or iPads are always with us and we are constantly available by email, text or video chat at any time of the day or night.”

Technology does more than help event planners organize their event, it gives them more options in raising funds for their events as well.

A recent trend that has gained popularity for raising money is crowdfunding (think Kickstarter). In the past, events relied on sponsors for revenue. Now, with the ability to crowdfund events, planners can raise money online from infinite donors.

Crowdfunding itself has become an event.

Give Local America set a record for the largest charitable crowdfunding event ever when it raised $53,170,493 in a 24-hour campaign to support local nonprofits in 2014, according the Huffington Post. Social media played a major role in the event’s success.

How we get there

The rising cost of transportation has significant implications for who will attend your event and how far they are willing to travel for it. The last ten years has seen a dramatic increase in low-fare bus travel, increased outsourcing from mainline airlines to regional carriers, and an upsurge in cruising.

People are finding new, more budget-friendly ways to travel. For starters, people have traded in their gas-guzzling Hummers for more energy-efficient Prius’.

Substitutes to traditional taxi services have popped up in major cities. Uber, Lyft, Curb and Sidecar are cheaper car services that pick up users via a mobile app.

Interstate tolls have also been simplified. States have adopted options such as E-ZPass, which make it possible for drivers to pay tolls without stopping. These passes now work from state-to-state.

It is important to note that most transportation now uses a la carte pricing, meaning that customers pay extra for additional options such as meals and additional leg space. This means that people can pay for basic travel and add on other options if they want it. While airline pricing has gone up, there are alternative discount airlines such as Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air that promise cheap ticket rates to limited destinations.

Because security has been tightened, it can be more difficult to travel than it used to be. It takes longer to get through security checkpoints and there are more limitations on what you are allowed to take with you. Additionally, most large venues and public spaces have multiple security cameras. This forces a trade-off between security and privacy.

Where we go

Along with the rise in transportation costs, the costs of venues have also risen. This has forced event planners to use alternate spaces for events such as college campuses, empty warehouses, rooftops, parking garages, museums, barns, zoos, parks, and firehouses.

Clever event planners use the features of their space as part of the decor. The creative use of location adds to the event’s authenticity.

The Red Rock Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado is a stadium carved into the Colorado countryside. Thousands of concert goers are surrounded by giant red rocks that rise up over the stands.


Bands like U2, Fleetwood Mac, and The Dave Mathew’s Band play at the Amphitheatre. via tickpick.com

Spaces like The Red Rock Amphitheatre make events one-of-a-kind. We will continue to see events take place in more surprising places rather than the traditional reception halls and hotels.

“We have more clients contacting us looking to use our atrium spaces and outdoor areas for events,”  Webster shares. “We’ve held some beautiful non-traditional events in unique campus areas.”

What we drink

Bar-side also looks different than it did in 2005. Changing technology and evolving methods have contributed to the emergence of more affordable and accessible wines. Rosé, in particular, has seen double-digit percent growth every year. Because rosé is not made from a specific grape from any specific region, it can be produced wherever red grapes can grow, according to Whitehall Lane Winery & Vineyards.

The sales increase is, in part, because millennials, who are between the ages of 19 and 34, demand the trendy drink.

What is the most popular type of drink you will see more and more of at events?

Craft beer.

The past few years have made the Craft Beer industry one of the fastest growing and most popular alcoholic beverage segments in the United States. In the ten years since 2005, industry revenue has grown 400 percent, according to IBIS World.

How we save resources

Planners now try to use local food products for their events. The farm-to-table trend has grown because consumers have started to seek more environmentally-friendly alternatives to processed foods.

Locally sourced, seasonal foods are usually more expensive and of limited availability, but that is starting to change. Because the total distance that a product is transported is less, the food tastes better and is healthier. The shorter distances also reduce the transportation impact on the environment, reducing CO2 emissions and saving fuel. Event planners are seeing this trend as an advantage to make their event stand out and to support local businesses.

One of the most, significant ways events are going “green” is that they are making all materials electronic. Guests use tablets or smartphones to access event materials. This makes it so that there is less paper being used. Planners also have the option of telling their guests to “BYOD” or “bring your own device.”

How we interact

In the United States, people expect Wi-Fi connection in all public areas. When it comes to events, guests want to have access to the Internet in every area throughout the course of the event.

Event planners are aware that people are using their phones at events so they have created apps specifically tailored for the event. Last year, San Diego Comic-Con International, the comic book and pop arts event of the year, teamed up with NBC Entertainment to create an official Comic-Con App. The app lets users access the latest event schedules, maps, exhibitors, special guests, exclusive items and news.

Electronic communication has changed how planners promote events and how guests interact at them. In fact, online platforms have made it so people can take part in events without even having to be there.

“It’s commonplace now to have guest speakers or attendees Skype in from all over the world or ‘attend’ the conference as they sit at home,” said Webster.

Through Ted Talks people can connect to global conferences or watch recordings of them after. The nonprofit encourages “Ideas Worth Spreading.” The ideas do indeed spread, some videos receiving millions of views.

How we record

Event planners used to rely heavily on hired photographers to capture the event. They were limited to what photos their photographer took. Now, because many people have smartphones or at least phones with cameras on them, events are recorded from multiple people’s perspectives. The 2014 Oscars was notable for it’s celebrity-filled selfie, a photo that went viral instantaneously.

Guests are involved in the recording of events. This changes the guest experience. There is now a device between the guest and what is going on. Are they truly in the moment or merely trying to capture it?

Guests have the opportunity to post on social media before, during and after the event. This gives a more in-depth review of how the event is going and also gives the guests more power to be involved in it. Live tweeting events is a way of giving outsiders a play-by-play of what is going on.

Social media also has the effect, in some cases, of making local events go viral. When people post about events on social media they are broadcasting it to the world. This can make an event accessible to a much larger audience than those actually in attendance.


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