Future of Events: Live, Virtual, Hybrid

The live events, award shows, company picnics, concerts, conferences, and every other experience we all look forward to every year has been notably canceled or postponed for nearly the entirety of 2020 due to the rising spread of COVID-19. From the iconic Met Gala to numerous experiential marketing activations, we have all seen the effects of the coronavirus on the events we look forward to most. However, businesses and individuals became resilient, relying on our ever-growing relationship with technology, connecting and creating digital experiences and pivoting their live event success to virtual. While many states are now speeding up their reopening processes, allowing for small gatherings and outings, the big questions remain: When will we be able to plan, produce, and experience our beloved events like we did pre-COVID 19? What can we expect to see in 2021 and how can we plan to move forward safely and cautiously?

Virtual Until Summer 2021

While whispers of a second or third wave of COVID-19 are being discussed, especially with the upcoming flu season, which lasts from December to May at the latest, you can plan to see the presence of strictly virtual events until April of 2021. This of course will differ depending on state, for example California has become the strictest state regarding health and safety regulations, we especially can expect this great delay. We are now seeing an increase in virtual event interest regarding tradeshows, conferences, and meetings as companies are seeing the need of continuing marketing and company culture efforts as we await an official reopening.

Hybrid Events 2021

Hybrid events are not a new concept and have been a staple within the events industry for years. However, you can expect to see a rise in hybrid events in year 2021 due to social distance regulations and crowd anxiety. In a survey conducted by MarTech Today, it showed only 4 out of 10 marketers would attend an in-person conference this year. The fear of attending an in-person event without an effective vaccine is an obstacle event professionals should take into consideration. As another obstacle, question whether the vaccine would be widely accessible. This will also affect how many in-person guests you can expect at your live events in 2021. As a general rule, plan and create the venue contracts to allow for half capacity and table settings that follow your state’s health and safety codes. Invite top clientele and personnel and offer a virtual option for your other guests. You can always send them a special customized event-to-go kit to get them excited! Many folks have experienced the success of virtual events so will continue to think of ways to leverage technology so live and virtual event can co-exist and enhance impact.

Live Events Winter 2021 – On

As this year’s concerts and events are being postponed, we are seeing an uptick in live experiences being promoted for winter of 2021. These types of large events will be last to come back due to safety and risk. Companies are revisiting their international and national events to come up with more regional events that are safer for the attendees. While we still may see social distancing guidelines in place and required face mask coverings, we can expect to see an official reopening. However, as we learn more about COVID-19, vaccines, and testing, it is encouraged to keep your venue and client contracts up to date with the latest information regarding guidelines and safety precautions.

Innovate Marketing Group is an award-winning experience agency based in Los Angeles. www.innovatemkg.com