The Future of Events is Small and Intimate


What is the future of events?

The answer: small, intimate and authentic.

In an article from Bizbash, designers and event planners predicted what the future of events looks like, and one key prediction is small and intimate. Jes Gordon, the creative director and owner of Proper Fun, said it well: “The party you usually want to have is the after-party. It’s the 50 people who, if you were stranded on a deserted island, you’d want to be with.”

Large events just don’t cut it anymore. And if I’ve heard anything consistently over the years, it’s that campus rec leaders want a space to connect with their peers – as in directors meeting with directors.

A great opportunity to do just that includes industry-specific intimate events, which typically max out at 75 people.

Unlike trade shows, which are large in scale and are often hard to find your peers at, intimate events allow you to network and connect one-on-one with the people you want to connect with. You can problem solve with one another, experience fun activities, chat with vendors on a personal level and more. Once the event wraps up, the relationships you built at an intimate event will last a lifetime.

For Andrew Chadick, the senior associate director of programs and assessment at the University of Texas at San Antonio, enjoyed the limited number of attendees at the Campus Rec Leadership Summit, an intimate event that occurs annually in early summer. “Being able to discuss the current and future trends and challenges of our industry with leaders from around the country was invaluable,” he said. “The small group setting creates an intimate atmosphere where real dialogue can be held, and Peake Media does a great job hosting the event. I can’t wait to go back.”

On top of getting to know attendees, intimate events are also a great opportunity to get to know a small selection of sponsors. You’ll have a sponsor’s undivided attention, meaning they can provide a solution truly tailored to your campus recreation facility, versus a mass-market pitch. At a trade show, it’s impossible to meet with the hundreds of vendors in attendance; at an intimate event, you can build a relationship with every sponsor there.

John Sweeney, the director of recreational sports at Marquette University, enjoyed connecting with sponsors and attendees alike. “The Campus Rec Summit is an amazing experience and without a doubt one of the best conferences I have attended in my 40 years in the profession,” he said. “The opportunity to spend a few days with a select group of campus rec leaders, along with the vendors, is a very worthwhile and enjoyable experience. We are treated like kings and queens, starting with the five-star resort facilities, high-level customer service, food and beverage offerings, not to mention the fun factor.”

As you plan your 2020 calendar, consider adding an intimate event to your schedule as an opportunity to network and find solutions to issues plaguing the industry. I promise you won’t regret it.

Interested in attending an intimate event? Consider the 2020 Campus Rec Leadership Summit, June 17-19 at the Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage in Rancho Mirage, California. The event brings together 40 campus recreation executives for two days of roundtable discussions, networking and fun. Take away tangible ideas and invaluable connections. Limited spots remain. Email while spots last and visit for additional details.

Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at

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