Thoughts on creating events that exhilarate
In March of 2019, the entire world experienced a major disruption as the pandemic destroyed lives and livelihoods. Industries were thrust before a daunting prospect: “Shape up” or ship out. Production companies needed to innovate for a new virtual event production experience as in-person audience events were canceled en masse. The effects of the global economic downturn rippled into boardrooms and conference halls. Strategic directions were scrutinized, projects were overhauled, and events were canceled or postponed.
Now, in December of 2021, live events are beginning to see the light of day as the strains of the pandemic are fading. Corporations able to hold their ground, by pivoting to more resilient business models, are now flush with cash after a year and a half of controlled spending on corporate events. It looks like everyone, including the business community, is rushing off to all the things they’ve missed, filling up their calendars with post-pandemic events.
Yet, it isn’t as simple as going back to “normal”. What exactly will be the “new normal” for post-pandemic events? Here’s a rundown of what to expect in the meetings-and-events arena in the aftermath of the COVID crisis.
Post-Pandemic Event Expectations
1. In-person events: Familiar yet different
An in-person event will remain the experience to beat in fulfilling our need for human interaction. Regardless of what virtual platform we use, it still isn’t the same thing as being elbow-to-elbow with your associates. There isn’t anything that can parallel the joy of satisfying all our senses when we physically engage with each other.
However, an attention-grabbing concern faces in-person event organizers. While working remotely during the pandemic, employees have learned the benefits of being “present” yet disengaged in online meetings. They have realized that they could go on half-listening mode to do minor tasks on the side. Others have also discovered that they could simply tune out and just catch up later by watching or listening to the recording of the meeting. You end up with an audience with shorter attention spans who would rather get out of the venue than get on board your agenda, even at in-person events.
Event creators will need to shake things up, to create richer and more novel in-person experiences that will be captivating, compelling, and will keep the audience glued to their seats for the entire run of the event.
Companies will need to overcome the challenge of keeping employees interested and invested enough to remain in their employ, especially those who have tasted the delights of autonomy and choice. Impactful events that will strengthen their commitment to the company will be a significant part of the solution.
2. Outdoors: The new destination
Because the Coronavirus continues to evolve, scientists and world leaders now see it as a situation to be managed instead of as a problem to be eradicated. Holding an event outdoors in the fresh air will considerably help lessen the risk of contagion. Therefore, outdoor event options will be part of the “new normal.”
Tents, while they come with a considerable cost, can provide other benefits over an indoor venue such as expansion of capacity and space, some natural lighting and creative opportunities with the design of the environment.
3. Virtual Events becoming the new norm
Grand View Research, a U.S.-based market and research company, predicts that the global virtual events market will shoot up to $504.76 billion by 2028, or a compound annual growth rate of 23.7% from 2021. Even with the increasing frequency of in-person gatherings, virtual events will remain a popular means of communicating for certain purposes. For instance, content-heavy meetings, such as educational seminars or training events, may also be better served online.
Yet, if virtual meetings and events are here to stay, so remains the challenge of counteracting the lack of engagement and liveliness. With in-person and hybrid events competing equally as viable post-pandemic ways to meet and gather, virtual event organizers will need to work with platforms and processes that can bridge the gap. They’ll need to look for ways to encourage better collaboration and strengthen connections that would happen naturally at an in-person event.
Hybrid meetings are events that have both a live audience and online attendees. Statista revealed that 52% of American respondents say “they’ll attend both in-person and video conferences after the health crisis.”
Being kind of on the fence, hybrids have the advantages and disadvantages of both in-person (with deeper engagement, yet more complex to set up) and virtual events (cold platform yet simple to manage).
Hybrid meetings can be more challenging, though, because you’ll need to manage two different types of audiences at the same time. Typically, the online audience has a harder time keeping up, as they stream content live.
Hybrids will, therefore, need to use more flexible and responsive platforms that have full digital functionality to support the needs of both the physical and virtual audiences.
5. Post-pandemic politeness: The new social norm
As more local and state governments retire their mandates and ease restrictions on limited-capacity events, the creation of post-pandemic event etiquette will be necessary to guide the behavior of your employees.
Can you shake hands? Admittedly, the etiquette business can get awkward. People have different comfort levels of interaction. You could ask your conference attendees ahead of time (via a pre-conference registration survey) what their individual levels of comfort are about social distancing, hand-shaking, etc. That way you can customize your event to match your attendees comfort level and thus reduce or eliminate any fears that could diminish full participation and/or presence at your event.
Once you have a clear idea of your attendees’ comfort preferences, it’s crucial to clearly articulate what those health and safety protocols are. This will go a long way in safeguarding not only your health and that of your employees, yet also your attendees and your broader relationships.
Post-Covid life can be exciting, confusing, and challenging—all at the same time. Keep yourself from being overwhelmed when planning your events by knowing exactly what to expect from post-pandemic events and meetings.
Or you can call Carlstrom Productions and let us help you figure out how to create the most compelling and engaging post-pandemic event for your company. Whether in-person, online, or hybrid, you can make your event stand out with our event production experts. Talk to us today!
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