Events are back, but what’s new?

2 December 2021, By Canela

Little by little, face-to-face events are making their way back into our agendas, with all the necessary safety measures in place. However, this doesn’t mean that virtual events are going to disappear. On the contrary, everything seems to point to the future of hybrid events, which combine both options and offer attendees more complete, exclusive, and satisfying experiences. Here we take a closer look at what these events will be like after the pandemic.

More events, but smaller

Given the uncertainty of organising large global events in a context of fluctuating contagion risk and travel restrictions, the trend will be to organise smaller, intimate, and more focused events throughout the year. For example, through “spin-offs” of existing events such as the Smart City Expo from the Mobile World Congress; or the multiple spin-off events from the Lisbon Web Summit (RISE Conference in Hong Kong, Collision in Toronto, SURGE in Bangalore and MoneyConf in Dublin, etc.).

Another option will be co-located events, i.e., events that take place in several locations at the same time in order to reduce travel and crowding. For example, the IACC Americas Connect 2021 event (a conference that brings together venue and exhibition centre managers) was held simultaneously in four cities in the United States. All locations were connected via a virtual platform, and the formula succeeded in increasing attendance by 9% compared to the 2019 edition.

More far-reaching hybrid events

Although events are once again being held in person, their virtual counterparts are here to stay. Formulas such as online broadcasting or virtual event platforms have proven to be able to increase the reach and impact of events, reaching more participants who are unable to attend in person. They also make it possible to boost networking and follow-up contacts after the event.

Virtual and augmented reality will also play an increasingly important role in events. Platforms such as Gather offer exciting possibilities for organising online presentations, conferences and demonstrations to complement face-to-face events. And on the horizon are metaverses from Facebook, Microsoft, and others, which will enable the creation of virtual worlds in which to hold events of all kinds.

Face-to-face events are back, but they are different from the pre-covid era.

Data as a bargaining chip

It seems clear that it will take some time for attendance figures to return to pre-pandemic levels. One way to incentivise attendance at in-person events will be to reduce or even eliminate registration fees. For example, the most expensive tickets for MWC 2022 will cost up to €800 less than in 2019, and the 2021 edition offered basic tickets from just €21 for local visitors. At many trade shows, exhibitors pay the cost of tickets themselves, to invite their contacts to attend and ensure that their stands are well attended.

However, “free” access comes at a price: prior registration is compulsory and requires a series of personal and professional data to be provided. This information is then used by event organisers and exhibiting companies to carry out e-mail marketing or social media campaigns that allow them to reach potential customers. Big Data will make this information even more valuable to better understand the market – data will increasingly become the currency for attending in-person events!

Experience and training are the keys

If before the pandemic it was already difficult to get professionals to leave their day-to-day work to attend an event, the security measures that are now required, mean that they will be even less likely to sign up for an event which is why it is essential to increase the added value offered by face-to-face events.

On the one hand, this means taking the utmost care of the attendees’ experience, with an attractive location, an enjoyable format, networking activities, etc. On the other hand, participants expect their attendance to generate a measurable and justifiable return for their company. For example, increasing their knowledge or skills, making contacts, etc. In this sense, training-oriented events (such as conferences, seminars, or workshops) gain weight compared to commercial events, product presentations, etc.

Greater social and environmental commitment

Social and environmental aspects are becoming increasingly important in consumers’ purchasing decisions, and this also applies to events. This is why it is becoming increasingly common for these activities to incorporate proposals and content related to sustainability, gender equality, integration of people with disabilities, etc.

From choosing an environmentally friendly location to minimising waste or incorporating gender or cultural diversity perspectives into the agenda, there are many ways to make your next event more socially and environmentally conscious. In turn, this will make it more special and attractive to attendees and the media.

Do you want to organise an event with media or influencers? At Canela we can help you!