As we move deeper into 2021, I begin to ask myself what are some event industry predictions that will start to resonate. After navigating the virtual event world as a producer and attendee, I see so much room for improvement.
Already we have gone from a mad dash of Zoom parties to virtual event platforms that present like TV shows. This means progress, but there is so much more to be done. Even though millions have already received their COVID-19 vaccine, this still does not push us back into in-person events. We are on the cusp of something really unique. For years the event industry has struggled to intertwine virtual elements with in-person experiences.
Hybrid events are not new. What is new is how we are using them during the pandemic. It’s way more innovative than anything before. I believe a number of things are going to happen this year and next. Here are my predictions.
7 Event Industry Predictions for 2021
ClubHouse will offer content creators a way to monetize their rooms
Thus far ClubHouse has been a true success. After a year of constant request to be visible, people are tired of getting dressed just to talk to you. It’s as if a regular phone call has become such a disrespectful request. This is what makes Club House so popular. You have thousands of people that want to only be involved via audio means.
While Club House remains in the Beta phase, I’ve seen its huge impact on pushing forward niche conversations reaching just as many people as virtual events do. Because we have seen the reach solely by iPhone users, once Android comes online, Content Creators will get the chance to require listeners to pay to get into a room.
Gaining access can be as simple as entering in your credit card info or double tapping your screen to authorize the charge from your digital wallet. Either way, Club House has shown us that niche conversations are in high demand and that will soon come at a cost.
Virtual Event will see a demand in after parties allowing attendees to voice their thoughts
The demand for more attendee interaction is increasing. While attendees love the one-way experience, they also want to be a part of the fun. When you attend in-person events like SXSW, everyone knows that you have to hear the speeches. But they also know that there is nothing better than talking about the session you just experienced with others. It’s those following on conversations where breakthroughs occur. Where true networking has a life of it’s on.
I believe more people will create a means for many-to-many after parties that allows attendees to engage each other.
I would say it is in these after party conversations where we can find the data for where the event industry is heading. It’s where we can identify core issues and develop solutions. It’s were we can collaborate and foster some of the best innovations yet.
In-person events will become as touchless as possible via event tech
Now that we have spent a year at home sanitizing every single surface, it’s not likely that people will forget this at an in-person event. Event Producers are going to see a rise in developing touchless methods for attendees. These methods can come in the form of:
- QR Codes giving attendees access to documents, sponsor content, Speaker bios, and more.
- Menus that give more details on calories, ingredients and where they were sourced from, and recipes to make the same meals at home.
- Touchless registration via e-tickets and badges mailed ahead of time to attendees
- A reconfigured bar experience allowing you to order a drink via an app and pick up when ready
Vaccine Passports will be worthless without a more accurate vaccine tracking system
The current process when you get your COVID-19 vaccine is a card given to you. In many cases you are the person filing out your card with your information. These cards can easily be reproduced unlike state IDs or regular passports which take more effort.
With airlines and now the buzz around a Vaccine Passport to get into events, what is the actual protocol to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine cards given are legitimate? What system is in place to verify you have received the vaccine without a breach to privacy? Are medical facilities even allowing third party apps authorization to your private information and has that infrastructure been implemented nationally?
The other issue, in particular the United States, is that every state has it’s own verification policy. Some require you to have a notarized form to be emailed along with a copy of your driver’s license. California has a system to verify vaccine status, but it “is for use by providers and not intended for use by the general public”. So this brings up way too many concerns on how in fact you will verify a person’s vaccine status.
While I do see some benefits to a vaccine passport, I do not believe it will make much sense right now in the current state. There are many companies developing vaccine apps and yet are useless if not approved by countries. This is where national standardization is key.
Event Organizers will monetize virtual events by providing more niche/premium topics on-demand
Similar to my Event Industry Predictions about Club House, virtual events need to find a way to monetize the event. As of now, event organizers are solely counting on sponsorship dollars to cover overhead. While this is a great means of revenue, it’s not capturing the thousands of attendees that attend a single event.
Concerts have tapped into monetizing their virtual events very well. You love to hear your favorite artist? Great submit payment to join the virtual event planned. For other events that’s not always the case.
We have spent a great deal of time harnessing our value and becoming really good at topics. Now the next move is to plan a virtual event and keep giving it away for free? Maybe not. Niche content and value, isn’t always free. This is no different from going to a conference, workshop or summit. Your goal in going is to learn and you are willing to pay for it.
What makes it an easier sell in the virtual world, is having the content on-demand allowing people to access it as many times as they need.
Virtual Event Platforms will finally start listening to Event Planners
As a DC Event Planner I have struggled with many virtual event platforms. I’ve heard the issues from fellow planners who simply can’t find a platform for what they need. Certainly there are hundreds of virtual event platforms out there. Even with so many, they lack some of the elements that makes for a great event.
Some platforms like Zoom or Cisco WebEx are great for meetings even though they claim to be great standalone virtual event platforms. Other sites like that are good simply lack visual customizations without increasing the already expensive service fee.
Lastly, one of the biggest problems we see is high priced virtual event platforms that require you to have multiple integrations just to use their platform. Imagine buying a car and the deal says to use this, you have to go buy the windows from this place and bring it here to put in the car. Or you have to go buy tires from that place and bring it here for us to use.
Production teams are needed because virtual event platforms don’t have everything needed to produce an event.
Events are going to resemble Netflix series
Our final on the list of 7 Event Industry Predictions speaks to what we all love. TV and movies. Both virtual and in-person events are going to see the benefit of Netflix style events. These are going to be short events that span weeks and event months. They will be a blend of virtual and in-person. Sponsors will see this as a big benefit because they are in front of an audience for a longer period of time.
As people come back to in-person events, it’s important to not create events like we did pre-COVID-19. This needs to be a gradual progression from small back to large. It makes more sense to use the series concept to get to that point.
What predictions do you have to add to our 7 Event Industry Predictions? Leave them in the comment section.