Ten years ago, when celebrating the 10th anniversary of my company, Elias Events, I wrote an article about the 10 changes I witnessed over the years. Now at the 20-year mark, I feel the need to write another article. This time around the changes in the special events industry are astounding, and to say advances in technology are a driving force behind special events is an understatement. In the current Silicon Valley–driven environment, the top minds in the world are constantly producing apps and software that not only help with everyday work product flow but also can be used during actual events, thereby allowing you to “Keep Up With the WOW!”

Let’s start with the obvious: Smartphones  and the world of apps did not exist 10 years ago. With the advent of the iPhone and its subsequent many iterations, the world of planning  events  has completely changed. Well, frankly, life in general has! At no other time in history could an event be planned from a device that fits into the palm of your hand. 

Ten years ago, the phrase “There’s an app for that” did not have meaning. Cut to 2019, and the number of  apps  and their ability to help the planning, designing and implementation of events is too many to count. The phone can be used to check people into an event, measure the length of a room, take memorable videos and photos, and remind us when to do it all over again.  

Much to the chagrin of the National Transportation Safety Board, drones are here to stay, and I, for one, am excited. For outdoor events,  they  are a perfect way to capture all aspects. If done correctly and within safety guidelines, they can also be used to transport items, such as drinks. Unbelievable shows like the synchronized lighted drones show at the Olympics and Super Bowl are taking entertainment to a whole new level.

To say that  virtual reality is a big thing at events is another understatement. Transporting guests to alternative realities is an exciting application to enhance events. The wave of the future is the ability to market events, venues and locations without ever having to leave the office.

The use of frozen liquid nitrogen is making a huge splash, and the reaction is spectacular. This product must be handled with great care and by a professional, but its ability to take drinks from boring to extraordinary is always a crowd pleaser

Another huge game-changer in the audiovisual component of events are LED walls/ screens. Using these instead of  a traditional projector and screen is useful for so many reasons, including the ability to not have to rig and the versatility in their use, and frankly, they look so much better. I am obsessed with using them and always glad when a client agrees.

3D printing has become a cool addition to events. The ability to print on-site many items—from sugar desserts to giveaways—is fun, imaginative and, with the advent of more products, becoming cheaper to do. 

A new cool element to add to events are artists who create paintings on-site. They typically will paint a scene such as the ceremony of a wedding or the venue for a birthday party. Guests love to watch the piece unfold, and clients have a visual reminder of the event for years to come.

From speakers to LED lights, Bluetooth products have become a staple in the industry. Their use has allowed for sound and lights in places where this might not have been possible before. These products are activated by remote control and many are accessible from apps on smartphones.

One of my absolute favorite new products is indoor sparklers or fireworks. The dynamic additions to the pyrotechnic arena have made a huge explosion—pardon the pun. The biggest plus is that they can be used indoors, do not require permitting and are safe (they can be touched without any fear of harm).


Deborah Elia, CSEP, CMP, CIS of Elias Events, LLC is an award-winning event planner. She is passionate about all things events related with a focus on event technology and products to wow her clients, guests and colleagues.

Question: What is your one must-have for business travel?

"My Mophie power station so I don’t have to compete for outlets during a flight delay or have that awkward moment of leaning into my neighbor’s lap while trying to find an outlet on the plane."

India Rhodes, CSEP Dallas Partner | Wilkinson Rhodes


What trends are you seeing on your event menus?