The industries that have been affected the most by the onslaught of the pandemic are those that thrived on close human interactions: retail, entertainment, and event planning, for example. While many businesses employed safety precautions to host events during the pandemic, most of them shifted to virtual conferences.
So, with this in mind, what are the chances of things returning to normal?
All over the world, we are seeing governments setting up timelines and protocols for Covid19 vaccine administration. As it becomes more common, the remaining travel restrictions will lift, social distancing protocols will ease down, and event planners will have to come up with ideas to create engaging, safe, and entertaining affairs.
So, going forward, what are the trends that we can count on to deliver success? Let’s find out.
1. The Future is Hybrid
People are getting fatigued by Zoom meetings but in-person (for most of us) is also out of the question, at least for the next few months. So, what’s the answer?
- 97% of event marketers expect to see more hybrid events happening in 2021 and beyond.
- 82% of respondents will wait beyond 2021 before resuming complete in-person events.
- 76% of event planners have never hosted a hybrid event before.
If you are one of that 76%, it can seem daunting to learn the ins and outs of a hybrid conference. But here’s a helpful guide to get you started. A quick example of a hybrid event is an online conference being hosted in LA that’s attended by a select few in-person guests while the rest of them join in online.
There are many reasons why hybrid events are such a rage right now. They improve the event’s reach and engagement, allow people to join in without worrying about their health and safety, allow audio-only options to avoid video-fatigue, reduce travel and environmental costs, and provide improved ROI.
2. Emergence of Event-Tech
With digitization such a huge component of the event industry right now, it is only natural that we are seeing a fresh surge of event-tech in the market.
And when we say event-tech, we mean a combination of technology that’s event-specific (event management software, for example) and technology that’s helpful for business in general. The tech that’s especially making the event professionals particularly happy includes:
- Artificial intelligence
- VR and AR
- Facial recognition
- Voice translations, and more.
And event planners are becoming and more familiar and comfortable with using these technologies to enhance their event experiences and data science capabilities. Their data gathering is becoming more sophisticated, session breakouts more focused, and predictive analysis more accurate.
For more insight on the topic, see these numbers on how tech is helping the event industry.
3. Sustainability and Mindfulness
Sustainability is a multibillion-dollar industry. People are becoming increasingly mindful of how they interact with their environment and what impact it leaves on the larger ecosystem. Business practices, patterns, and behaviors that harm people’s mental health, psychological wellbeing, or harm the environment are being called out and rejected. Almost half of U.S. consumers are giving up consumption habits that are damaging to the environment.
As an event planning company, your survival depends on taking part in this conversation and taking environmental and human sustainability seriously.
Invest in biodegradable materials, buy local, and opt for fair-trade food. Registration bags or badges that are made from recyclable materials, preferring digital documents over unnecessary use of paper, donating leftover food to local shelters, and engaging in HR practices that prioritize your human capital are the few ways to start this journey.
Your attendees and sponsors will appreciate your environmental-conscious attitude and will reward you when it comes to brand recognition and repeated visits.
4. An Authentic Brand
To ensure that your inclination towards social causes is rooted in your brand values and not just a time-induced trend, work on creating an authentic brand identity for yourself. Nearly 90% of all consumers respond positively to brand authenticity and want to see more of it from their brands.
To promote yourself as an authentic brand, a unique visual identity such as a logo design is only the beginning. Work on actually getting to know what your audience is expecting from your next event. Polls, surveys, and other methods of user-generated content can help you establish as a brand that’s serious in delivering content of value. Repeatedly taking audience feedback, delivering event features that take into account a diverse range of audience (audio-only features for guests who may not want to join the video, for example) and offering interactive session features can help you establish brand authenticity.
5. Diversity and Inclusion
Another event trend that we see driven by shifting societal values is the openness and a desire to hear the other side of the story.
Ideas and beliefs that are challenging to our own, perspectives that we had never considered before, or controversial opinions on popular topics are the things we want to consume. For the longest time, the focus has been on a limited demographic to share its thoughts. But for the modern audience, there’s no point in being part of an event that does not offer any opportunity to learn or see things from a different lens.
Therefore, event planning that hosts a diverse range of speakers and includes seating arrangements, menu items, language options, and other inclusive features may see a rise in its attendee engagement.
6. Unique Locations for In-person Events
When, eventually, things return to some semblance of normal, a larger focus will be on in-person events that offer one-of-a-kind experiences. 53% of event planners cite unique locations as a major event marketing trend.
Cooped up in close quarters for most of 2020, people are getting anxious to venture out and experience the world with more appreciation. As an event planner, you might want to capitalize on that and offer immersive experiences that are not being held at hotel ballrooms.
Collaborative tech events in industrial lofts, corporate getaways to farms and other natural settings, and art conferences in museums, etc. are some of the basic ideas you can try out as your unique offerings. But make sure that moving away from a tech-laden atmosphere does not come at a cost. Invest in strong WiFi, multiple electricity backup options, and strong staging.
While this list is not exhaustive, it does single out technology and a heightened appreciation for human contact as the main drivers fueling the evolution of the event planning market. As an event startup, bank on these trends to keep pace with the changing consumer demands.