While 2020 forever changed how we look at meetings and events, 2021 has pushed the meeting planning industry into a continuous evolution to adapt to the dynamic landscape. So as we begin the new year, we asked our events experts what trends they see unfolding in the future.
Here’s what to anticipate:
The Approach to Hybrid Will Evolve
Continued uncertainty will lead event planners to explore new methods to deliver hybrid events, giving us an opportunity to uncover new solutions.
Event planners from various industries have tapped into the idea of desynchronized hybrid events – delivering the virtual and in-person components at separate times.
Logistically, this approach optimizes your resources and staffing since the sessions are staggered and not delivered in real-time, alleviating some of the pressure associated with an all-hands-on-deck, real-time hybrid offering.
Desynchronized hybrid events can also deliver a unified experience to your attendees, where the in-person and online experiences are staggered, giving your entire community the option to participate in both components.
In fact, utilizing hybrid events in this fashion extends the life of your program and creates a marketing opportunity. The virtual content production and streaming can occur separately, with the in-person component offered on a different date.
And as 2022 continues, event planners will look for more in-person attendance with a focus on the event destination. Event planners may reduce the number of sessions offered online to accomplish this.
To determine your best path, consider:
- the international draw of your organization
- audience location
- the mindset of your audience
Our event experts utilize surveys to poll the community to inform their planning in uncertain situations.
Attendees Want a Whiff of Fresh Air
Outdoor options reduce the transmission of coronavirus, and luckily, many hotels and venues already have patios and terraces in place for attendees to relax and breathe easy.
Our Sites Team carefully considers venues and their location to determine a prime setting – considering city restrictions and temperatures for the time of year. Outdoor venues are preferred even in the colder months, pending the location and where the attendees originate, since 40 degrees Fahrenheit is comfortable for some from colder climates.
Outdoor spaces can also deliver ambiance and excitement. Picture a networking event overlooking the Savannah River District or amid a sunset cast over a city skyline. Learn more about how our Sites Team collaborates with planners to find the perfect setting alfresco.
While many attendees covet outdoor door time, do be mindful of your participants with plant or pollen allergies. Rooftop spaces, hard surfaces (versus grass), and brick or stone terraces will offer the best experience for all.
Technology Will Drive Community Year-Round
In the years before the pandemic, it was commonplace to host one massive in-person event and then go (relatively) quiet for the remainder of the year. But those days are gone. Now attendees seek ongoing communication and community.
As event planners, we recognize that need and view it as an opportunity to capitalize on audience and membership growth and retention.
For example, our client, the Oracle Applications and Technology Users Group created The Hub on its website to spark discussion, question-and-answer segments, and a hang-out zone for attendees during its entirely virtual conferences.
Other tools like mobile apps also provide a streamlined experience for attendees to feel they’re participating together, no matter how or where they join.
These tools also provide data-driven ROI, so our experts can confidently cultivate and build upon meaningful relationships with sponsors. And while exhibit halls don’t always translate well in a virtual format, we expect to see more sponsor activations woven into the agenda of an event, giving sponsors a steady and stable approach in which to engage with event attendees.
Traditional F&B Will Look Different
The way people eat, drink, shop, and treat themselves has changed over the pandemic, affecting how included (or excluded) they feel while on-site at an event.
Many events are hinging toward a model with food and beverage servers to reduce crowds near food stations and minimize high-touch interactions. As well, the food at the serving station will offer a better focus on health and well-being with more health-conscious options for a range of dietary restrictions.
More event holders will opt for non-alcoholic options when it comes to beverages. The pandemic triggered a rise in alcohol consumption, followed by going cold turkey. In response, event participants may consciously consume alcohol and seek more sophisticated non-alcoholic beverages. (A water sommelier is a great option – check out our blog post.)
Looking to the Future of Event Planning
As we embark upon a new year, our planners are eager to utilize their tried-and-true solutions in tandem with innovative trends and technology. Let’s talk to see what we can produce for your organization.