As we move into the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the events industry is still seeking ways to challenge the expectations around what events can be held and push the boundaries of what events can do.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken precedence over the industry and our lives and is likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Knowing that the virus remains unresolved and that virtual and hybrid events are here to stay, here’s a look at the industry landscape and the biggest challenges an event planner might face in 2021.
Event Planning Trends on the Rise
At the start of the year 2021, event planners look to future event trends as a way of preparing their clients, brands, and toolkits for useful event planning technologies, trends, and ideas.
While COVID-19 reigns, health and safety will remain at the heart of many of the challenges expected in 2021. With so much uncertainty, it can be difficult to make solid plans around in-person events. But what is clear is the expectations that remain around hybrid events and virtual events.
Last year, event planning trends saw the shift from event planners to event strategists, the rise of human-centered tech, and new meanings to “live” events. None could have foreseen the rise of the coronavirus and its sudden, jarring effects. And since then, event planners have successfully risen to the challenges that 2020 presented.
The event planning industry made a strong pivot to online and hybrid events. These event types were long-overdue, and until they were made to be a necessity, they remained on the backburner. In general, participants have come to love the uniqueness of meeting in-person, however, there are also distinct needs associated with virtual or hybrid event options.
As we move into 2021, we can expect virtual events and hybrid events to carry on. And event planners or event strategists will need to apply creative thinking to modern problems.
Biggest Challenges for Event Planners in 2021
There are currently hundreds of expected trends for 2021, many of which could change at a moment’s notice. However, we wanted to highlight our top 5 expected challenges that event planners and event strategists should expect in 2021.
1. Integrating Virtual Events With Online Community Building
COVID-19 has led to stay-at-home orders, lockdowns, and physical distancing requirements. These mandates have forced people to stay at home, but this does not mean that as a society we aren’t allowed to socialize and connect. The rise of virtual events has allowed individuals to connect through virtual technology. While physical distancing requirements in place, social distancing is not required.
Event planners should look to build online communities. Not only are online communities something that people are seeking, but it could also prove to be a useful addition to a lead nurturing campaign post-event. By creating spaces centered on community, but also around a specific event or brand, there is plenty of room for marketing and sales opportunities, brand awareness campaigns, and content marketing as well.
2. Extending the Experience to the Home
While individuals are forced to remain home, either through government mandates or requests, it makes sense to try to bring the virtual experience into the home. Even after these mandates are lifted, extending the experience to the home can still carry over into the event planning process.
Since hybrid events and virtual events are here to stay, event planners need to start to think about how an event experience, which we strive to cultivate at in-person events, might apply to the individual homes of virtual attendees. How will online event attendees want to be in their space during your virtual event? How can a remote attendee utilize their space to improve the experience of your online event? Tapping into this challenge will set your business or brand above the rest.
3. Intimate, Smaller In-person Gatherings and Mobile Tours With Virtual Extensions
We have already witnessed real estate professionals using virtual tools and video calls to provide house tours, but event planners can also strategize the use of these tours with smaller, in-person gatherings and more intimate events.
Think about the types of events that we held before the pandemic. In shifting to virtual events, we seem to have left behind those who like to meet in smaller, more intimate settings. These groups may still be meeting casually, but they are not being capitalized on, and they feel like they are not being spoken to when virtual event planners market for large gatherings.
Start to branch out and break down big virtual gatherings into smaller ones. These types of events can offer more exclusive offerings, like private tours or behind-the-scenes shots with the potential for boosted attendee engagement opportunities.
4. Influencers Will Branch Out Beyond Social to Host Proprietary Virtual Events
While influencers have largely helped the event space, event organizers should expect influencers typically on social media to tap into the events industry, instead reaching out past their normal channels and host proprietary virtual events.
This means that your influencers will no longer simply be someone your brand or event turns to for event promotion or as a virtual event presenter. Instead, you might be interacting with influencers as potential clients.
Influencer virtual events will require a different type of virtual event strategy. They might go for smaller crowds and they will have unique goals since they are extremely connected to social media platforms. Consider expanding the event budget when taking on influencers to explore background research into the market.
Be sure to include synchronicity between your event planning software and social media as a major selling point of your professional services. Also, try to hone in on the influencer’s goals as they may be broad or opaque, like “brand recognition,” for example.
5. Second Screen Experiences like Behind the Scenes Commentary During a Virtual Event
Another challenge that event planners might come across is the introduction of a second screen experience, which could provide additional commentary or behind-the-scenes shots during a virtual event. This type of feature will be added as VIP packages to certain events as a way of ticket tiering and bringing an added element of personality to the virtual event.
Event professionals should first be prepared for this shift by including it in services provided, event marketing, and ticket tiering. If you don’t have event software that is designed to be agile and scale-up capabilities to accommodate changing demands, find one now so that you do not have to search for an event platform and put yourself even further behind.
Event technology like Accelevents software understands this need and the features are consistently updated to grow with you and the event industry.
Staying Prepared for 2021’s Biggest Challenges
With the unknowns of the COVID-19 pandemic and the inability for event planners to accurately plan their next virtual, hybrid, or in-person event, some of the biggest challenges that event planners face is simply being prepared. A lot can happen in a week, let alone a day, when before these trends were changing slowly and gradually.
Event planners need to be malleable and ready to change as the world does. In doing so, you will better understand what clients and brands are looking for in their virtual events, hybrid events, and in-person events. Consider bringing on an event manager to handle intimate events and also specialty events. You should also prepare for event management skills rather than simply planning. Executing the event will fall on your shoulders (if it hasn’t already!).
It helps, of course, to stay connected with event planning associations, magazines or newsletters, and networking groups. Stay connected with communities as well, so you can continue to build your knowledge. Accelevents’ webinars and knowledge base is a great place to stay up to date on all the latest news around the events industry!