Hard times have pushed every industry to come up with creative solutions to sustain their businesses. Event industry experts started amending their line-ups and came up with an innovative solution - virtual events. Virtual events exploded in demand during the pandemic, and have proved to be a high-value opportunity despite the prevailing restrictions on live events. Globally, the virtual events industry was worth nearly $78 billion in 2019. This space is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 23.2% from 2020 to 2027 (Forbes, 2021). A majority of the predictions of event industry trends were propelled down the drain in 2020. Although we are simultaneously eager to return back to the pre-covid times, one thing is for sure– things will never be the same. Even when physical events resume, the reality is likely to be that for a significant amount of time, attendees will be split between those willing and able to attend physically and those who will not.
The event industry is entering a new stage of its recovery after the catastrophe brought on by the pandemic. The aftermath of the spread of COVID-19 led to a prompt switch from on-ground events to hybrid or virtual events.
Here are some of the event trends that’ll influence the industry in 2021 you should be mindful of :
1) Virtual Is Here To Continue
In 2020, the event industry witnessed a seismic shift of the entire industry to the virtual space, even though vigorously. Virtual events are likely here to stay as a powerful way to engage with attendees everywhere. 57% of attendees believe that they can conduct the majority of their event objectives online. (Reed Exhibitions, 2020). Rather than spending money on the venue, travel, and equipment, companies can maximize their budget by investing in secure digital technology, and promoting their event online. By eliminating the hefty travel charges and location barriers, companies that embrace virtual events find their attendance rates improve as more people can join in from all over the world. Also, The benefits of using virtual technology are that it has become easier than ever to have data recorded on the fly, which can be stored and accessed as needed.
2) Hybrid Will Be The King
Hybrid events are being seen as the future of events, consisting of an element of in-person networking experiences along with digital content broadcast to a much wider audience. Not bound to distinct geography, hybrid events bring exciting potentiality to the table by balancing the experience of real-world events with the ease and safety of the digital world. Hybrid events bridge the gap between in-person and virtual events, adding more value to the event. One can attract a much large-scale audience than before and expand their reach through online mediums. As there seems to be a definite value in hybrid events, one must be well aware of how to create a notable experience for those who attend a virtual event. Hybrid events will allow brands to create safe live engagements that follow health and safety protocols and at the same time also have the scale to reach a larger number of people
3) In-person Events Won’t Go On The Backburner
The value of in-person events is undeniable. Some companies are prepping for in-person events lined up for the second half of 2021. The industry is hoping to meet face-to-face as COVID-19 vaccines are being handed out across the globe. Personal contact has always been an essential part of any event. This kind of connection adds a different element to a professional relationship and can definitely be more notable. Also, in-person events have major financial benefits for individual businesses and local economies. In-person events create and maintain jobs for people around the world. The IAEE notes that over six million jobs rely on live events across the world. As the restrictions on large gatherings continue and mass vaccination is still months away, small, socially-distanced, in-person gatherings are the safe option for some time to come. This year, in-person events will focus more on creating genuine connections than extensive marketing. It seems easier to run activities such as team building or events that whirl around face-to-face.
The way events were typically consumed has changed. The time has come to unlearn what you have learnt. As the uncertainty will prevail for the most part of 2021, brands that will truly stand out are those that are willing to be flexible and can make their event translate by keeping their stakeholders at the core of their event design.
Use 2021 as an opportunity to reset, rethink, reimagine and redesign your event so that it stays resilient and viable.