By Mahider Tadesse
As the world economy lifts itself out of the pandemic fog, many industries seek solutions to overcome the unique challenges presented this year. The event industry is no different — in fact, changes made during this time will be among some of the most dramatic, as we seek answers for pandemic-era questions. The most pressing? Can in-person events occur in the same way they did pre-pandemic? The short answer — time will tell. What we do know, is that the event industry will find a way to adapt, transform, and excel forward in the new normal.
As we prepare for these new challenges, we’ve put together some information for you regarding different industry trends and how we think these will affect events moving forward.
In-Person Event Challenges
While we’re no stranger to bad news flooding our feeds, there is plenty of good news to get us excited. First and foremost we’re getting better at treating COVID-19 and understanding how to slow the spread. We know for certain that large, indoor events without proper health precautions are a big offender in the spread of COVID-19. While we likely won’t be returning to large indoor events anytime soon, there are a few ways to navigate in-person events.
Epidemiologists are recommending that all in-person events remain small, local, and outdoors (if available) for as long as possible. Proper hand-washing, mask wearing, and sanitizing protocols should be in place and made clear to all attendees. Also, it’s important to note what we mean by local. Another big offender of COVID-19 transmission is travel, especially by airplane or any other public transportation that requires being in close quarters with others. Research recommends events that don’t require extensive travel for attendees. In fact, many countries require visitors to have a negative COVID-19 test before entering the country. As an example, South Africa is requiring a negative result 72 hours before you board your flight to the country.
The biggest take away here is that to mind the density of your event — whether it means you find a bigger venue or a smaller guest list, it’s important to make sure your attendees have plenty of space to spread out wherever you host it and all recommended health guidelines are adhered to. The reality is, until there is a worldwide vaccine (which could be 2021 or 2022), in-person events will look very different than they have in years past.
Virtual and Hybrid Events
If an in-person, local event is not in the picture for your business, that doesn’t mean your next event must be cancelled. Many industries are opting for hybrid or totally virtual events due to the pandemic — and many of them have done extremely well! Both virtual and hybrid events are new possibilities that our clients are considering, let’s cover them both.
A hybrid event simply means that some of your attendees will be present at a physical event while some attend virtually. You can design this any way you’d like, invite local attendees in person, or maybe you prefer to have just your speakers and exhibitors be in person. Hybrid events will likely require access to a livestream-capable platform that can share in-person happenings with your remote audience at home.
Another possibility would be to have a multi-day event, where you can alternate who is able to participate in-person each day to maintain optimal social distancing and still allow a larger number of people to attend the in-person event. Configuring the right hybrid style for your event is something we do here at Hallpax, and are happy to provide the expertise and support you need.
Completely virtual events are extremely popular right now — there are no limitations on who can participate, because everyone is in the safety of their own homes or offices. Thousands of people can attend one day of an event, with no location restrictions or issues with parking, tickets, food, missed work etc. While so many of the common in-person event challenges are nonissues with a virtual, that doesn’t leave virtual events without their own challenges.
One of the most prevalent challenges with virtual events is maintaining a full day’s schedule without tiring out the participants. It’s one thing for an audience to be engaged at a conference with food and activities, but staring at a computer screen for an all day event can get tiring really quickly. Keeping your attendees engaged online is a new challenge that many event hosts are trying to develop solutions for. It seems that spreading your event across more days and less hours in each day can help. Another challenge we come across is virtual translation and interpretation services. They are not always easy to come by, and only certain platforms provide this service in enough languages for many of our clients’ events. That’s why we’ve subscribed to the top, professional virtual event platforms and pass those savings onto our clients.
In 2021, we expect to see many virtual events exploring creative new ideas on how to keep participants engaged and enjoying fully virtual events.
The 2021 event industry will inevitably look different, but these changes are sure to bring innovation and excitement to your event. Event aspects you had never considered before suddenly become great options for your attendees and hosts alike. You may find you have more attendees than ever, because they can participate from the comfort of their couch or home office. More attendees can mean more networking opportunities for everyone. While we know some difficulties will arise, Hallpax is excited and ready to take on anything that comes our way.
Looking for some expertise on hosting your next local, virtual, or hybrid event? Hallpax has you covered on all sides. Reach out to us today to speak with one of our experts and get the pressure of your next event off your shoulders. We have the experience and knowledge to get you where you need to go — host your next conference or event with confidence.