With country-wide lockdowns, there was an obtrusive question in front of every event planner: Is the future of events in danger? However, recent trends in event technology have proven the industry’s adaptability and resilience. The beginning of the pandemic produced unprecedented challenges for the events industry. From multi-national companies to local markets, all businesses that relied on in-person meetings were staggered and faced heavy losses.
The events industry pushed through 2020 by quickly pivoting to virtual events. Organizations embraced the benefits of event technology within a span of weeks, which would otherwise have taken years. The bottom line: the events industry adapted and transformed itself and emerged more powerful than ever.
The Latest Trend: Virtual Events
Before the pandemic, in-person events provided an ocean of opportunities to network, build meaningful connections, and interact with attendees and sponsors. Once things went virtual, a new and unique audience emerged: people who could now attend events that were previously inaccessible to them. With the click of a button, they could step into a virtual experience they couldn’t have experienced before.
When Event Technology Saved the Day
The rapid transformation of the events industry wasn’t possible without the adoption of event technology. Marketing leaders and planners quickly embraced and leveraged a new mindset and skillset almost overnight to keep the wheels turning, committing swiftly to digitalization.
Clearly, technology is indispensable in the new world of events. Features like live polling, interactive Q&A using event apps, and appointment scheduling tools are now commonly used by attendees and planners alike. In addition to being useful tools in and of themselves, these technologies have the added benefit of boosting active engagement and interaction. Post-event features like surveys, live feedbacks, and built-in lead tracking are also vital solutions, allowing organizations to measure ROI of their virtual events.
Will Virtual Events Go Away in Future?
Virtual events opened the world to new possibilities, offering previously impossible advantages to event attendees and planners. Suddenly, attendees could check in at an event from the comfort of their homes, and with registration and attendance just a click away, attendee numbers quickly spiked. When survey respondents were asked about the effectiveness of virtual events before and after the pandemic, their perception of virtual events had drastically improved.
Say Hello to Hybrid Events
As COVID-19 infections drop significantly and governments ease travel restrictions, everyone’s excited to be able to connect and network in-person with the added advantage of attending events remotely when more practical. Viola! We now have hybrid events in the mix. Just like virtual events took center stage in 2020 and most of 2021, hybrid events are forecasted to be the next big trend.
Will Technology Save the Day Again?
In the GBTA study, over half of the companies highlighted attendee engagement as the topmost challenge with hybrid events. Organizations are apprehensive about remote attendees not being able to network with in-person attendees, participate in education sessions, and visit expo booths, to name a few. They fear that such challenges might mean lesser engagement and event value.
The Recovery of In-Person Events
While it’s a long road to the return of in-person events, most meeting and event planners are optimistic about what the state of in-person events will be by early 2022. According to the GBTA study, 67% of companies expect the industry to recover by Q1 2022, with 52% of respondents expecting simple meetings (attendee count 50 or lower) to return within a year. Larger events and conferences could take two to three years to return to pre-pandemic levels, according to most respondents.
For instance, organizations are now planning to include pandemic-related Q&A in RFPs for venue sourcing. These could include sanitation and hygiene planning, disaster recovery and outbreak response, food preparation practices, staff training, AV infrastructure, etc. The most crucial factors will be a venue’s requirements for mask-wearing, the maximum number of people allowed in a room, and social distancing requirements.
Event Technology Is the Answer
Marketers and event planners have always relied on technology to manage the complex areas of event planning, including venue sourcing, RFP issues, registration, surveys, and more. Because of the pandemic, however, the reliance on technology is more prominent than ever. The pandemic threw unique challenges at events professionals, and our industry countered with the best technology at hand – even creating new technology.
As different industries recover from the pandemic, corporate meetings and events will continue to evolve and adapt with the aid of technology. In-person meetings will eventually come back, but until then, virtual and hybrid meetings are the stars of the show. As you plan your next event, take the time to research and invest in event technologies, training, and tools that will help you stay ahead of the game.
Copyright - www.cvent.com