6 ways the event industry is changing in 2021
The in-person event industry was brought to a halt by the pandemic, and live events, face-to-face networking and the buzz of an exhibition have been missed from the business schedule for more than a year as a result.
Whilst virtual events have been an effective alternative for both organisers and attendees, according to Event Manager Blog, 72% of live events failed to profitably pivot to a virtual format, and this has inevitably driven the renewed demand for hybrid and live events within the industry as restrictions begin to ease.
There is no denying that the past year has changed the event industry forever, and there is a lot to consider when bringing delegates back to venues, so it is vital that event organisers consider how the pandemic has impacted live events and are willing to adapt their approach in line with emerging trends.
Here, Oliver Rowe, co-founder of VenuIQ, highlights the top 6 developments expected with the return of live events.
1. Hybrid is here to stay
Hybrid events - a combination of in-person content with virtual aspects - are expected to retain their place in the industry long after the pandemic, and it is estimated that 66.5% of events professionals plan to use the format once in-person events resume.
The past year has accelerated the development of events software dramatically, and hybrid content is now more accessible than ever to both event hosts and attendees. The ability to host an event that crosses borders with global access can expand the reach of content and information, increase ticket sales, and create a more popular event overall. For example, an event that hosts a Q&A with in-person delegates and utilises events software to enable hundreds more to attend from their own homes or offices can tap into a much wider audience, making hybrid events vital for those looking to recoup profits lost in the last year.
2. Flexible ticketing
With events transitioning from virtual to hybrid or live, organisers will need to introduce more flexible ticketing options to accommodate any future uncertainty and changing circumstances.
Small COVID-19 outbreaks, attendees needing to isolate, illness and restrictions on event numbers are all scenarios organisers must consider and prepare for. As a result, we will see them offering more flexible ticketing options so they can postpone, reschedule, or move events to virtual whilst reducing the need for refunds and helping them retain delegates.
Flexible ticketing will also provide the ability for customers to choose between live or virtual attendance based upon their location and preference.
Implementing flexible ticketing will be the way forward for organisers wanting to retain attendees, give delegates peace of mind, and allow events to operate fluidly despite restrictions and challenges.
3. Taking an event global
Throughout the pandemic and with the growth of virtual events, organisers have seen the benefits of breaking geographical barriers to access wider audiences. Taking advantage of virtual event hosting software has allowed small events to expand their reach, and this trend is expected to continue beyond the COVID era.
Through use of hybrid events software, speakers and attendees from other countries can be included in an event without the need to pay for flights and accommodation.
Even with the return of in-person attendees, making use of events broadcasting software in tandem with face-to-face talks can continue the growth and reach of events post-COVID.
4. Micro events
Despite restrictions easing, it is likely that many events organisers will choose to continue holding smaller micro events. Hosting an event for only 20 people for example, can often make for a much more enriching and engaging experience for both speakers and guests.
Whilst they are finely balanced in terms of being financially viable and don’t always offer the networking opportunities that larger events do, the ability to gather a more exclusive crowd that can better get to know the speakers, ask questions, and learn more can, in fact, be much more beneficial for delegates.
These events may be favoured throughout the remainder of 2021 to reduce the risk of larger scale outbreaks and offer organisers finer control over COVID-19 safety measures amongst a smaller number of people.
5. On-site rapid testing and temperature checks
Many reports are suggesting that a return to traditional live events is close to being a reality, and health and safety precautions and adjustments are expected to become an industry standard.
On-site testing and temperature checks will become the norm at many events and venues to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks amongst attendees. Whilst they will likely be a requirement for venues, as safety continues to be paramount for event organisers, these precautions also have the potential to become valuable selling points for delegates still unsure about whether they are comfortable with a return to live events.
6. Climate consideration
Recent awareness of climate change, its impact on the environement and how we can make a change has meant businesses and individuals are making concentrated efforts to reduce their carbon footprints.
The hybrid event format provides a climate friendly option for attendees and speakers who would have had to travel a long way to attend in person.
Events utilising virtual platforms and being marketed as ‘travel-free’ will also become popular with attendees less willing to travel to live events due to COVID concerns.
A return to live events has been the goal for organisers since the pandemic struck but, since then, there have been a number of developments and changes to consumer behaviour that have reshaped the industry for good.
By embracing change and tapping into emerging trends and opportunities that have surfaced as a result of the pandemic, event organisers can ensure their live events are a success and enjoy a profitable transition to the ‘new normal’.