5 event trends to watch for in 2021
The pandemic has unquestionably been challenging for the events industry. One silver lining, however, is the opportunity for reinvention. That’s likely what 2021 will be all about: envisioning new ways for the industry to function.
One thing abundantly clear is that hybrid events aren’t trending; they are the new normal. Most major in-person events are going to offer some type of digital offering, much of it exclusive only to ticket holders. We’re excited to see the creative offerings that will emerge throughout the year. In the meantime, here are just a few of our predictions.
Premium/Exclusiveness. It goes without saying that digital events will continue to trend — and scale up — throughout the year. Various platforms (from Zoom to Cisco WebEx Events) have found creative ways to enable attendees to truly connect with each other. But the differentiating factor for some organizations and corporations will be the level of “premium” feel they can offer to a limited number of attendees. Whether digital or in person, “micro experiences” are intimate events with small groups that foster meaningful connections. 2021 is the year for petit gatherings.
Regional events. Most of us love an excuse to travel to far away, exotic locations. But even when we do get the green light to travel again for in-person events, we will likely stay relatively close to home. An event might focus on gathering professionals from within a state or province, or a region such as the eastern seaboard. Before running (or taking long-haul flights, for that matter), we’ll need to take baby steps.
Outdoor events. If we learned anything in 2020, it was the importance of fresh, circulated air. Summer has never been a better time to host events, largely due to favourable outdoor conditions. We’re going to see creative ways to distance attendees, while still promoting interaction, possibly through bubbles, specific seating arrangements, maybe even plexiglass-separated outdoor conversation booths. Gardens and parks have never been so valuable.
Rapid testing and monitoring. From dogs that can sniff COVID to saliva-based testing, we’re going to see new, fast ways to identify viruses. A university research centre in Turkey claims they have developed an ultra-rapid coronavirus test with 99% accuracy that can return results within 10 seconds. Some forms of quick testing are already happening in airports, such as in Los Angeles. Furthermore, some events might require attendees to wear Bluetooth bracelets (or similar devices), which enable contact tracing should anyone test positive after the event.
Upskilling. While networking is often the top reason for attending an event, for the time being skill acquisition (and teaching opportunities) might be the larger incentive for attendees this year. One focus for event organizers will be how to provide exclusive educational content. With the pervasiveness of online learning — much of it free — this inevitably will be difficult. But event professionals are a creative bunch. We look forward to seeing what transpires.
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