2020 saw people deprived of events of all kinds. Whether it was for business or leisure, we had to say goodbye. Many were thrown headfirst into the world of online events which was definitely a learning curve, whilst some were cancelled altogether. With the COVID-19 vaccines now being rolled out, it could see the return of physical events at some point in the near future.
However, it would be unrealistic to think that events will be back in exactly the same way as they were prior to the pandemic. At least, not straight away. So, what can we expect from events and the challenges we’ll face in 2021?
We have to address the elephant in the room first. The virus isn’t going away anytime soon. However, if we do find ourselves in a world where the majority of us are vaccinated, scientists still aren’t entirely sure what this will mean in terms of how people pass the virus on and so forth.
This means that events in 2021 (and potentially beyond) will need to stay COVID compliant!
By this we mean there must be measures in place to allow people to socially distance themselves, as well as offering hand sanitisation stations, allowing masks to be worn and even temperature checking or testing upon entry.
Track and trace would also need to be implemented in order to get in contact with everyone should someone find they have to self-isolate after attending.
Depending on how and when (if) the pandemic starts to ease, one or all of these measures might still have to stay in place.
As well as making changes within the venue, the actual venues themselves are also predicted to change. Allowing people the room to social distance means requiring a bigger space. When you also have to factor in that many will be using a seating layout to take further precautions – that’s a lot of space needed!
Whilst we expect event numbers to be limited initially to prevent the spread, this will potentially grow as we get back into the swing of things and restrictions are lifted. That means accounting for future growth in attendee numbers as we get later into the year.
Many may opt for outdoor venues instead of indoor. Of course, in places like the UK where the weather is unpredictable, you have a weather dependency risk to consider. Policing outdoor spaces may also be more difficult in terms of signposting for safety and ensuring guests are still staying COVID-compliant.
This is the big one and it’s something we’ve already started to see. Hybrid events! This is a mixture of both in-person and online event activities or webinars. They’ve held a vital role this year and that will only continue to grow. Whether it’s a company update, team-building event or a summit, nailing your hybrid events will help you to flourish in 2021.
A key outcome of any event is to establish new relationships and build upon existing ones to help them last. When you run a hybrid event, the audience will no doubt be larger. This is where you need to be careful as each of the guests will still expect a quality event, not just a Zoom link. The key to a successful hybrid event is to make sure you’re audience-focused. Potentially, even more so than you would be at a physical event. That means they need to be interactive, they need to be engaging and they need to be integrated.
The recent Evolution of Events Report found that out of 400 event marketing professionals, they plan to lean heavily on technology as part of their events strategy.
Therefore, this part of hosting events is going to be so important in 2021 in order to ensure you can deliver a seamless experience just as you would with any physical event.
Ultimately, nobody can be sure what the state of events and event planning will be in 2021. However, what is for certain is that COVID restrictions will have to be adhered to for the time being. Also, you need to get to grips with your tech and seek out solutions for this if you want your events and your business relationships to thrive.
Be adaptable and be resilient. The pandemic has proven that businesses are responsive to dealing with and managing change. This year is going to allow us to take on board what we had to learn in 2020, looking at and working towards the future of integrated events.
Sheer Edge can help you with this change! We can help you to host unique, value-packed events that your attendees enjoy and remember. Tell us what you need and we will find the perfect solution for you. For those less confident in hosting, our team can also provide you with support and training before and during the event – allowing you to focus on your audience.