The meetings and events industry took a big hit in 2020 with many in-person events cancelled and others transitioning to virtual formats. The upside: We learned a lot about technology, creativity and resilience as we worked to overcome the hurdles created by the pandemic. We embrace these lessons as we prepare for meetings and events in 2021.
American Express released its 10th annual Global Meetings and Events Forecast, shedding light on the state of the industry. Not surprisingly, the health and safety of attendees and presenters remain the primary considerations when planning in-person meetings and events. This year face-to-face meetings are expected to be small, regionally focused, and in a hybrid format with a mix of in-person and virtual attendance. Click here to download the full report
While in-person events might look smaller in 2021, hybrid and virtual events can create the opportunity to reach even larger audiences. During this time where much is still unknown, there is promise.
As you plan your next event—whether in-person, hybrid or virtual—here are the latest trends to keep in mind.
Continued focus on sustainability.
According to an IMEX Group report, 92% of event professionals said it is important that sustainability is integrated into the industry’s recovery. Attendees will see more sustainable swag, like face masks and tote bags made from recycled materials and even eco-friendly pencils. These pencils can be planted after use and grow into herbs or flowers.
Immune-boosting food choices.
Covid-19 transformed the food-and-beverage experience, with safety and health the main drivers. Meeting planners are choosing more local, organic food items, as healthier menu items help to strengthen our immune systems.
Cleanliness & safety measures.
In addition to face masks, face shields and hand-sanitation stations, some venues are going high-tech with extreme site cleaning measures. This includes technology that actually measures people’s vapor trails using a black-light-type tracking mechanism, instantly identifying which areas need to be cleaned. There are also Bluetooth-enabled physical-distancing wristbands that send alerts when someone is too close.
Technology that prompts engagement.
It can be more difficult to engage attendees in a virtual setting, so the meeting content experience must be interactive. Some interactive features include live Q&A, attendee polling, embedded presentations, and more. For hybrid events, be sure the venue is prepared with broadcast technology infrastructure in place to allow you to connect and engage virtual attendees with the in-person experience.
Sponsors and exhibitor activation.
Creating a virtual booth to welcome attendees is essential for sponsors and exhibitors to engage with attendees and gather audience data. The virtual booth should feature a call to action (CTA) that allows interested attendees to share their contact info and/or schedule appointments with exhibitors.
Brand consistency (still) matters.
Regardless of event format, a seamless branded event experience at every touch point is a must. From the invitation to the registration process, and from the event swag bag to the follow-up survey, be consistent in brand message, look and tone.
Over the last six months, our team at Shamrock has held virtual vendor showcases and team meetings. We’re looking forward to getting back to in-person tradeshows and events, with some of these trends/predictions incorporated in our planning.