6 Ways the Event Industry Is Changing In 2021

August 3, 2021

John D’Adamo

John D’Adamo is head of U.S. sales at VenuIQBased in Florida, he boasts more than 10 years of experience within the events industry and has built long-standing relationships with some of the world’s most respected brands.

The in-person event industry was brought to a halt by the pandemic, and live events, face-to-face networking and the buzz of an exhibition have been missed from the business schedule for more than a year as a result.

While virtual events have been an effective alternative for both organizers and attendees, according to Event Manager Blog’s event statistics, 72% of live events failed to profitably pivot to a virtual format, and this has inevitably driven the renewed demand for hybrid and live events within the industry as restrictions begin to ease.

There is no denying that the past year has changed the event industry forever, and there is a lot to consider when bringing delegates back to venues, so it is vital that event organizers consider how the pandemic has impacted live events and are willing to adapt their approach in line with emerging trends.  

Here are six top developments we expect to see with the return of live events.

  1. Hybrid is here to stay

Hybrid events – a combination of in-person content with virtual aspects – are expected to retain their place in the industry long after the pandemic, and it is estimated that more than 66% of events professionals plan to use the format once in-person events resume.

The past year has accelerated the development of events software dramatically, and hybrid content is now more accessible than ever to both event hosts and attendees. The ability to host an event that crosses borders with global access can expand the reach of content and information, increase ticket sales and create a more popular event overall. For example, an event that hosts a Q&A with in-person delegates and utilizes events software to enable hundreds more to attend from their own homes or offices can tap into a much wider audience, making hybrid events vital for those looking to recoup profits lost in the last year.

  1. Flexible ticketing

With events transitioning from virtual to hybrid or live, organizers will need to introduce more flexible ticketing options to accommodate any future uncertainty and changing circumstances.

Small COVID-19 outbreaks, attendees needing to isolate, illness and restrictions on event numbers are all scenarios organizers must consider and prepare for. As a result, we will see them offering more flexible ticketing options so they can postpone, reschedule or move events to virtual while reducing the need for refunds and helping them retain delegates.

Flexible ticketing will also provide the ability for customers to choose between live or virtual attendance based upon their location and preference.

Implementing flexible ticketing will be the way forward for organizers wanting to retain attendees, give delegates peace of mind and allow events to operate fluidly despite restrictions and challenges.

  1. Taking an event global

Throughout the pandemic and with the growth of virtual events, organizers have seen the benefits of breaking geographical barriers to access wider audiences. Taking advantage of virtual event hosting software has allowed small events to expand their reach, and this trend is expected to continue beyond the COVID era.

Through use of hybrid events software, speakers and attendees from other countries can be included in an event without the need to pay for flights and accommodation.

Even with the return of in-person attendees, making use of events broadcasting software in tandem with face-to-face talks can continue the growth and reach of events post-COVID.

  1. Micro events

Despite restrictions easing, it is likely that many events organizers will choose to continue holding smaller micro events. Hosting an event for only 20 people, for example, can often make for a much more enriching and engaging experience for both speakers and guests.

While they are finely balanced in terms of being financially viable and don’t always offer the networking opportunities that larger events do, the ability to gather a more exclusive crowd that can better get to know the speakers, ask questions and learn more can, in fact, be much more beneficial for delegates.

These events may be favored throughout the remainder of 2021 to reduce the risk of larger-scale outbreaks and offer organizers finer control over COVID-19 safety measures among a smaller number of people.

  1. On-site rapid testing and temperature checks

Many reports are suggesting that a return to traditional live events is close to being a reality, and health and safety precautions and adjustments are expected to become an industry standard.

On-site testing and temperature checks will become the norm at many events and venues to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks amongst attendees. While they will likely be a requirement for venues as safety continues to be paramount for event organizers, these precautions also have the potential to become valuable selling points for delegates still unsure about whether they are comfortable returning to live events.

  1. Climate consideration

Recent awareness of climate change, its impact on the environment and how we can make a change has meant businesses and individuals are making concentrated efforts to reduce their carbon footprints.

The hybrid event format provides a climate-friendly option for attendees and speakers who would have had to travel a long way to attend in person.

Events utilizing virtual platforms and being marketed as "travel-free" will also become popular with attendees less willing to travel to live events due to COVID concerns.

A return to live events has been the goal for organizers since the pandemic struck but, since then, there have been a number of developments and changes to consumer behavior that have reshaped the industry for good.

By embracing change and tapping into emerging trends and opportunities that have surfaced as a result of the pandemic, event organizers can ensure their live events are a success and enjoy a profitable transition to the “new normal.”

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Partner Voices

As event professionals and destinations adjust, adapt and evolve in these uncharted waters, it is imperative that substantial resources be put in place for all of the people responsible for planning and executing trade shows, expositions and conventions. An example is Mohegan Sun, which built an industry-leading, COVID-19 Resource Center with a combination of pictures from recently held successful events (the property reopened on May 1, 2020) along with several widely available and informative documents, such as an evolving operational framework: