Even when the vaccine arrives, it’s unlikely that things will go back to as they were before.
Stricter health protocols will be developed to prevent another pandemic; people will want to continue having the option of working from home and be more flexible; business travel will be seen as something expensive, time consuming and not good for the environment, and thus will be avoided if possible; the economic recession will lead to low expenditure mode among companies and associations.
Our industry will need to adapt to this new reality. To succeed, we’ll have to focus on personalised engagement. Narrowing the experience and the content will be vital.
This trend will give even more prominence to tech tools, big data, virtual and hybrid and artificial intelligence - but understanding customer preferences will be the differentiating factor.
It will depend on the evolution of the pandemic of course, but my prediction going into 2021 is that more events will take place remotely as opposed to face-to-face. All kinds of events will include more technology, more virtual integrations and hybrid features.
Corporate events such as trade shows, incentives, product launch, company conventions or social events, will come back sooner – with certain restrictions and controls that may stay in place for a longer time.
I believe that congresses, especially medical and scientific ones, will be the most affected. This sector was already undergoing several changes when the pandemic accelerated a transformation process that was supposed to take years.
Face-to-face congresses will continue, but concepts such as multi-location hubs, virtual speakers or 365-day congress platforms will be a reality – and a huge saving on congress budgets.
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The opportunities will come to event strategists the moment they change their mentality and stop waiting for the vaccine and the old days to come back. It will not happen.
Once they realise this, they can start an analytical process on their strengths and their market, and work towards finding innovative solutions.
The revenue model that they’ve worked with in the past will change.
The “new event companies” will need to offer different services based more on consultancy than on logistics. Finding talents to implement them will be a problem (both for the job profile and for the cost).
A good option in this new business model is to become expert service providers in niches within the new event planning methodology. An idea can be to become a consultant in healthiness and medical services for events. Another idea can be becoming an expert in coaching speakers on how to present online.
These kinds of concepts are what strategists should consider in order to evolve.
The next year will be challenging for the industry and its people, but equipped with resiliency, new skills and knowledge, we will navigate these challenging times and find new ways to bring people together.