The global pandemic which started at the beginning of 2020 rapidly changed the way people engaged with one another. Due to safety concerns, physical events came to a screeching halt almost overnight.
It was if the world stopped functioning and soon the term ‘new normal’ started being used for the new way people had to live their lives. Fortunately, there is a glimmer of hope for us to return to some form of the ‘old normal’ in the near future.
While the prospect of the return to the old way of life is exciting, Flock Evening Platform’s founder and CEO, Mike Lysko, shares his thoughts on what it means for the events industry, which has done a U-turn and today functions very differently to the pre-COVID days.
The future of physical events
As the world of in-person events re-opens, it will become increasingly important for event planners to manage health and safety at physical venues, says Lysko.
As an event planner of the future, you will have to deal with the emotionally charged and controversial topic of vaccinations and you are well advised to implement policies around this issue for in-person events.
Below are some suggestions to help navigate this controversial area:
- Have strict safety measures in place at your physical event such as sanitisation stations and ensuring the wearing of masks where appropriate.
- Choose well-ventilated venues to host your event.
- Regulate attendee access to create a safe event environment.
- Limit the duration of in-person events. Get creative with future physical event layouts. For instance, offer attendees the option of connecting with other attendees online to encourage interaction.
- Embrace touchless devices to provide a sense of safety among in-person attendees.
- Create a Covid event company policy and make it available on your website to show that you take government regulations seriously and to safeguard yourself and business.
The pandemic may be around for years and, even after it ends, there may be ongoing regulations and lingering fears about Covid.
Holding physical events will remain a tricky space to navigate. However, Lysko says, as long as people are informed about security protocols and attendees have options on how to engage (that is join online or in-person), you can implement measures to avoid alienating any one of your potential guests.
Event tech will become essential
Event planners have become accustomed to the use of event technologies and are unlikely to step away from this development. If anything, we are likely to see more event tech solutions emerge to solve more event pain points.
“The future of events will remain a mix of physical and online. Hybrid events are here to stay,” Lysko says.
“I cannot see event planners and organisations who have transformed their businesses going back to the ‘old fashioned’ form of event planning. According to research on LinkedIn, 45% of future B2B events will be completely virtual,” he adds.
Event ROI measurement tools will become a must-have
As new event tech and formats emerge there will be an increasing demand for more effective data measurement tools. Event tech is providing substantially more meaningful information about events, attendee engagement and activity which event planners can utilise to create better events, and which can be used for better reporting on ROI in the marketing sphere.
Event ROI is always top of mind and meaningful data is an essential element that event planners require to motivate for increased budgets for their clients and obtain event sponsors. New event measurement tools are likely to become essential to showcase the success of events regardless of the format, Lysko says.
The 365-engagement strategy: Event communities, user-generated content and virtual platforms
Lysko predicts that a 365-event engagement strategy will become a staple in the events industry.
For those who do not know, a 365-engagement strategy refers to a plan whereby the event organiser continues to engage a community beyond a single event. This strategy utilises multiple touch points and event experience types to allow for continued audience interaction. This strategy feeds off event communities, event user-generated content and the creation of event platforms.
- Event communities: We are likely to see brands and event companies create followings and online communities around certain themes or ideas. This will facilitate ongoing conversations and generate ideas for future events around topical themes and conversational points.
- Event user-generated content will play an increasingly significant role in driving engagement at events and this trend is likely to become ingrained at physical, hybrid and online events. User-generated content is created through encouraging users to share their journey with the event at different stages in the event’s life cycle. For instance, encouraging attendees to share on social media that they are attending an event after purchasing a ticket.
- All-in-one event platforms: We are seeing a move towards brands wanting to own their communities and control the content generated because these communities are an exceptionally valuable resource. This means brands are spending more time and money nurturing valuable client relationships and niche communities than ever before, Lysko says.
“Many companies want to host events through their own branded event platform rather than hosting their events on a network such as LinkedIn. Brands want to manage their audience and communicate with them through clear avenues that provide the possibility of monetization. Additionally, hosting an event through a single all-in-one platform allows the company to control security and privacy which is a growing area of concern with data privacy laws,” Lysko explains.
The events industry will be forever changed, digital and hybrid events are likely to evolve and adapt with technological developments and physical events will incorporate digital aspects and utilise innovative ideas to retain the same impact they had pre-pandemic.
We live in dynamic, exciting and often challenging times so take the time to research and invest in event technologies and tools to stay ahead of the game, is Lysko’s advice.