A Return to Live Events in 2021

March 12, 2021
By Michael Copp, Executive Vice President

Kimberly Hardcastle-Geddes (2020) wrote in her December 1, 2020, article, Predicting the Future of Events, “[MDG has] been researching, reading, experimenting and tracking what’s working and what’s not in the events space.” The following are what might be expected in 2021 (Retrieved on the World Wide Web on December 18, 2020, here):

  • Attendees will return to in-person events – “attendee confidence in returning to events and overall positive sentiment are the highest they’ve been since the beginning of the pandemic… and more optimistic about the availability of an effective vaccine.”
  • Exhibitors will return to live events, but only if their customers are there exhibitors…are looking for at least 80 percent of prior attendance to maintain ROI”, which could be reached in the fall of 2021.
  • Event organizers will be managing two competing sentiments with the return of physical – “Event producers and marketers must be hyper-focused on maximizing opportunities associated with [a pent-up demand for the commerce and sense of community that live events provide] while minimizing fears associated with [lingering fear about travel and mass gatherings].”
  • Virtual events won’t replace physical events – “attendees value digital events for their ability to provide access to learning and content.” However, exhibitors express disappointment with their inability to connect with audiences and therefore, their return on investment is perceived as being much lower.
  • Virtual events will continue to open doors to new audiences – There is a growing number of new participants accessing virtual programs. “This is likely a reflection of the number of people who have always been interested in the content… but were not able or willing to travel to physical events.”
  • Integrated models will be the new normal – “The concept of hybrid will no longer be relegated to broadcasting certain elements of a physical event, but will encompass webinars, peer-to-peer roundtables, podcasts, community management platforms, smaller regional events, etc. that happen year-round—and ideally, as part of an integrated strategy.”
  • Physical events must get better – “In 2021, savvy organizers won’t be mired to the ways of the past, especially when they no longer make sense. Be prepared to say “goodbye” to printed directories, direct mail, long registration lines and more.
  • The way we talk about events will change – “There’s never been a better time …to retool the essence of their brands, injecting more empathy, kindness and authenticity into their communications and focusing less on show statistics and features.”
  • Digital marketing will simply be referred to as “marketing.” – “need to invest in the right people and solutions to execute sophisticated, smart, data-driven campaigns. Concepts like marketing automation, performance modeling, agile marketing, etc. are no longer sexy buzzwords – they’re the methodologies on which future success will be built.”

PHCC is excited to begin planning the PHCCCONNECT2021 event in Kansas City, Missouri, on October 20-22, 2021. The team is exploring keynote speakers, education sessions and networking events that will get attendees excited to come back to a live event. We may consider live-streaming some key sessions for those who may not feel comfortable traveling just yet. Siddarth Taparia (2020) writes in a Fast Company article – The Future of Live Events is Here and Depends on These 4 Factors, “Events were always optimized for the in-person experience, but now they will become optimized for a variety of different ways people choose to watch and participate.” (Retrieved on the World Wide Web on December 18, 2020, at here)




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