It’s been hard times for all of us, and especially so for the events industry. With cancellations of tradeshows, conferences and entire concert tours, the business has suffered undeniably. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Corona does not mean the end of live events. But it does bring changes to the industry. Here are three trends which have been on the rise for a couple of years now, and will be soaring in importance in a post-COVID world.
For the past three months, most of our social life has been online. From bridal showers to stakeholder meetings; literally everything was replaced with virtual alternatives. It’s not the same as the real deal, but we collectively discovered that it does work! Event professionals who have been perhaps still reluctant towards virtual events, were now forced to explore the remote opportunities and learn about the advantages these virtual elements can bring to their business. As we’re going back to ‘normal’, these professionals will take what they’ve learned into their new projects.
Hybrid events, which have both a physical venue and a remote component, will definitely gain ground. The use of digital aspects will complement in-person events. It increases your reach substantially as attendees (and speakers) from all over the world can join your event experience. What’s more, by making your livestream or video presentation available afterwards, your audience can share your content with other parties online and by doing so further extend your brand’s visibility.
And if you’re worried about a decrease in in-person attendees – well, don’t be. According to Digitell, provider of digital services for virtual and hybrid events, 30% of people who attended a live streamed event attended the live physical event the following year.
We’re not virologists nor clairvoyants, but our guess is that mass festivities and huge gatherings are not in our near future. So, you could go virtual, but you could also opt to ‘downscale’ your physical event. As the event industry rebuilds itself in the aftermath of this crisis, smaller and local events will be important to secure the social distancing between attendees as much as feasible. That being said, smaller events have a lot more benefits to bring and were already emerging a few years before the virus outbreak.
Why do people attend events? Not merely to listen what the presenter has to say on a certain topic. They want to interact with industry experts and network with other attendees. In general, most people are more open for dialogue and conversation in smaller groups. Choosing for a more intimate approach enables more talking opportunities and encourages audience engagement. In addition, it allows you to easily create a more personalized event experience with content aimed at the interests and needs of your select audience.
And when the time is ripe, you could also integrate this intimate and customized strategy in larger events by offering, for instance, tailored breakout session paths per attendee persona.
The long-term lockdown measures, although disastrous for the economy, do have some positive effects on our environment. For event organizers, and really any business, this could be the time for introspection. This is what we can achieve when collaborating together globally, this is what collective effort could do to help the planet. So when the restrictions ease, we could either just go back to the traditional ways we were doing things before, or we could use the coronavirus as a tipping point to rethink the importance of sustainability in the industry.
In fact, if you would have asked us at the beginning of this year, before the pandemic struck globally, to predict the top event trends to watch in 2020, sustainability would certainly have been high on that list. Over the last years, the green approach has been growing in importance for both organizers and attendees. In a study conducted in February by Promoleaf, 60 percent of respondents indicated that they prefer to attend conferences hosted in a sustainable fashion. And it’s not just about implementing virtual aspects to lower the air miles. It’s about choosing partners that strive with you to make a difference, using technology with a lower environmental footprint, offering attendees healthy and green alternatives to eat, etc.
Everyone has been talking about the new normal: life after corona. But for live events this new normal might already have been in the works even before the virus. The trends for events in 2020 already listed virtual events, attendee-centric approaches and a heightened focus on sustainability. You could say that the corona outbreak is working as a catalyst for these trends, slightly pushing organizers to explore the potential and embrace the new possibilities these trends can bring to future events.