The world has shifted dramatically in the past two years. How we work, do business, market, shop, gather, share information, and live day-to-day has undergone a transformation none of us could have expected. Let me be clear, there is no return to “normal,” and it is time to future-proof both your personal and business worlds.
The event and hospitality industries were impacted to a higher degree than many others. Participants were unable to travel and attend events safely. In-person events were either canceled in 2020 or switched to a virtual format.
What Does the Data Say?
We compared the same eight events in the 2019 physical iteration and its digital 2020 counterpart. The findings were a 97% increase in attendance overall over 2019 in-person events. This constitutes a 78% increase in countries represented through virtual attendance in 2020.
While in-person events started to come back in 2021, the Delta variant has caused a large percentage to convert back to virtual in the fall of 2021. According to industry statistics, those holding in-person meetings have attendance levels at 40% to 70% of 2019 figures.
Future-Proof Your Organization Now
So, if you are waiting out the storm, it’s time to set a new course. Future-proof your events now for an unpredictable future. Annual conferences have long been a significant revenue source for host organizations and associations but can no longer be counted on to produce the revenue. A new model will need to be put in place.
What Do We Know?
Here’s what we do know:
- Viruses, medical outbreaks (Pandemics)
- Hazardous weather conditions
- Travel concerns and restrictions
- Strikes and civil unrest
will all play an increasing role in the future of events.
We also know:
- External forces can change the best-laid plans in a minute
- Event technology is rapidly becoming more sophisticated
- Working remotely is offering the opportunity to people who care for children or the elderly to work without travel
- Inclusivity and accessibility increase with virtual components
How to Future-Proof Your Event
It’s time for host organizations to work with key stakeholders to design the experience to be:
- Provide consistent revenue generation
- Inclusive of all
It Will Look Different, But What If The Difference is a Better Product Than Before?
- Sponsors get more value from events and shift their advertising budget into experiential activations? Which are loudly promoted on social media and live on long past the event.
- Professionals, who meet online, gather regionally as a group for networking?
- Sponsors can host and facilitate local meetings?
- Underserved communities can now have a voice?
- Your attendees save large amounts of carbon emissions by not flying to every event?
- We can choose to attend events in person when we as individuals feel it is safe to do so?
- The host organization is first and foremost looking out for its people?
Playing it Smart to Future-Proof Your Organization
Please don’t give up on events playing a large role in your organization but be SMART about them. This is an opportunity to take a leadership position in the industry and create something exciting. Future-proof the event by designing a gathering that will include everyone and pivot as external forces change our plans. Harness digital technology to help you. Organizations can depend on a less contingent revenue model for economic security.
Change is difficult, scary, and often avoided. Well-managed change can also be welcomed in a world where chaos reigns. In fact, that is the definition of resilience–the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. Yes, future-proof events are integral components to the sustainability of your organization.