020 saw a sea of changes around us. While COVID-19 could have been the trigger, some of these changes are now viewed as change for the better. With specific reference to event hosting, in 2020, we saw the shift from physical events to virtual events. Towards the end of the year, we saw the emergence of hybrid events.
The events industry adapted to the change. But as we have moved into 2021, everyone wondered about where the event trends were heading? What is the future of the event hosting industry? Is it the end of in-person events?
Based on the pulse of the market, we believe that:
- In-person events will re-emerge.
- Virtual events will continue to be a part of our lives.
- Hybrid events will gain popularity this year.
Let us deep dive and understand these trends better.
The global pandemic brought the entire world to a standstill. In-person events were cancelled altogether. The situation is improving slowly. In India, permissions have been granted to hold small events with very few attendees. But, with newer strains of the virus being detected and with the rollout of vaccines just having started, holding an in-person event would be few and far.
Yet, if you feel an in-person event is required, you could hold an event with restricted numbers and all social protocols in place. As an added measure, you could offer PPE suits/ face shields to all attendees. You could also make your event touch-free. From registration, booths to rest-rooms make arrangements for a no-touch event.
These arrangements may be a little costlier, but if this cost will aid in protecting oneself from the virus, participants may be willing to pay this cost.
Final view: In the first half of 2021, in-person events will be hosted with very few attendees. But if the reach of vaccination improves, the number of in-person events will increase in the second half of the year.
Virtual events practically saved all event managers in 2020. These events were always present in the background, but COVID-19 pushed them to the forefront. We saw an array of virtual events hosted in 2020. Webinars, product launches, job fairs, college admissions, workshops, we saw all of these being hosted via virtual platforms.
Live streaming, an integral part of virtual events, has caught viewers’ imagination across the world. People prefer a live-stream video over a blog post or social media post. These videos attract more viewership, likes and comments. Keeping up with the demand, event organisers have now started live streaming their events using different platforms.
Given that the situation globally is improving, we see in-person events making a cautious comeback. Yet, there are several attendees and organisers who prefer virtual events over anything else. Why? These events can be attended from the comfort and safety of our homes, they are cost-effective, there is no barrier of time and place, and lastly, virtual events are viewed as green events. The biggest advantage of virtual events that makes it a big hit is global reach and attendance.
Final view: Given all the reasons mentioned above, virtual events will always be there, and their popularity will not decrease even if our lives go back to the pre-pandemic era.
The youngest entrant in the world of events, hybrid events offer us a mix of in-person and virtual events. While some attendees want to attend in-person events and meet people, others prioritise comfort and safety and prefer to attend virtual events. Hybrid events strike this balance and hence are becoming a popular choice among organisers and attendees alike.
Some of the other advantages of hybrid events include better reach, ideal for any budget; attendees can re-watch and share the sessions, better sponsorship and engagement opportunities, and flexibility.
Given the plethora of reasons, it is no wonder that hybrid events are gaining popularity. Lastly, both attendees and organisers feel that hybrid events are sustainable and a better choice from the health perspective.
Final view: Hybrid events will reign in 2021. It is considered a wise choice in the new normal. If planned and organised, hybrid events have the potential to be the most preferred event among organisers and attendees.
The most successful event is one that achieves your goals and exceeds your expectations.
Event trends may keep changing, and event organisers will have to adapt to changing needs and demands. However, the biggest learning from 2020 has been that any kind of networking or learning is always effective when the attendees are lesser. Termed as micro-experience, this is what attendees are looking for.
So, while you keep up with event organising trends always ensure that you give your attendees the micro-experience and help them be a participant of an interesting, value-driven and productive event.