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Post-pandemic event industry trends to look out for this year

Last updated September 20th, 2021

It is the most exciting and rewarding job on the planet. There is nothing quite like the buzz of delivering a live ‘show’ - often with no rehearsal - it's creative, energetic, intense & totally varied . No day is the same

Lorne Armstrong, Director, The Event Academy

After what has been an ‘interesting’ couple of years, the world is slowly awakening from the pandemic and opening up again. That means we can get back to innovating and begin exploring live and in-person events as well as remote and virtual.

It’s a great time to be an event manager!

So, what are the post-pandemic event industry trends to look out for?

We think a solid mix of the following will make a big splash in the coming year.

The return of live events

This trend is a no-brainer really but is important enough to risk stating the obvious. Even though there is still a huge appetite for virtual and hybrid events, we definitely think the live event will make a welcome return.

We think the return will be tentative with fears over health and safety and insurance liability hanging over event planners but we think many will overcome that.

People want to see live events again and it’s our job to deliver them!

 

Catered events

Restaurants, cafes and bistros began looking elsewhere to keep the money flowing while they were closed and one way was to cater for events. Individual meals, prepared offsite are the ideal answer to smaller events, distanced gatherings and even some larger events.

Catering is shifting away from serve yourself for obvious reasons but individual catering is becoming more popular. Especially when it’s a local restaurant or bistro preparing the food!

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The continued rise of hybrid events

A recent report from the US said 97% of event industry respondents expected to see more hybrid events going forward. We think that’s true as it blends the best of both worlds.

You can stage a live event where people can mix and socialise while including virtual experiences, digital interviews and all those event technologies we perfected during the pandemic.

While we may all be weary of Zoom events, there are definite advantages of blending virtual seminars or guest speakers within a live event.

 

Business demand returns with a vengeance

Businesses like events for all kinds of reasons and we think they will all play a part in an increased demand for events going forward. Whether that’s live, digital, hybrid or something else entirely, we are predicting a significant rise in events from business in 2021/22.

Business appreciates the need for face to face meetings, to socialise, network, generate positive PR, perform marketing and all those functions that have kept our industry going.

Increased demand for educational events

Many of us spent lockdown learning new skills, completing online courses, watching YouTube how-to videos and developing ourselves. We see something similar happening in events.

We think there will be a rise of educational events around business skills, mental and physical wellness, languages, cultural immersion experiences and genuinely valuable educational content.

Just what form those educational events take is still up for debate but it will be fun devising a format that works!

 

More flexibility from venues

We are already seeing venues continuing the flexible approach they had to adopt during the pandemic and that’s good news for everyone. We all know venues we wanted to use for particular events but were so fixed in their ideas that they wouldn’t accommodate us.

That all changed during the pandemic and we expect that to continue.

From greater spacing, opening up other areas, opening up gardens and grounds, moving stages to add more tables, allowing external catering and other forms of flexibility, we think venues will continue being accommodating.

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Smaller and more often

Another shift we saw during the pandemic was smaller events. While we think the ‘micro-event’ is limited, there is interest in having smaller events more often.

Rather than inviting 250,000 people to an annual event, we are seeing some global companies considering monthly events with smaller audiences.

We don’t know yet whether this will be a permanent change but we think the industry will play more with this format for the next year or so until they make up their mind!

 

Data collection around events

Data collection is essential for marketers to assess demand and to follow up with brands and attendees after an event. We expect that to increase.

The events industry needs to remain flexible and sympathetic to the needs of our audience and data is one way to do that.

We expect there to be more data collection in advance of an event to help frame the concept, analytics and engagement. There will also be data collected during to see if the format hits the mark and data collected afterwards to gather feedback and opinion for the next one.

More investment in technology

One thing the events industry learned over the past couple of years is that while technology is good, there are genuine shortcomings in a lot of the solutions out there.

We think that will change a lot over the next few years. New platforms, new solutions, new hardware and software and a new emphasis on delivering specific technologies for events rather than adapting existing technologies to fill the gap.

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Testing testing

Even though we are emerging from the worst of the pandemic, it isn’t over yet. That’s why we think COVID testing facilities will be a trend going forward.

That means adapting venues and floor plans to allow testing areas, supplying the staff and equipment to perform accurate testing and providing a neutralised area for people to wait for their results.

Testing won’t impact every event but there are going to be stakeholders and brands that insist on it and we need to be ready to provide it.

 

It’s an interesting time to be in the events industry. While we always say that, because it’s an exciting, dynamic industry to work in, the global situation and the societal and psychological changes we have undergone all make it a time that’s tough to predict.

Did we miss a trend you think will explode this year? Tell us about it below if you do!

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