Those of you who are sure of anything, please raise your hand. For at least a couple of months now, the entire business events sector has been looking at the future with mixed feelings and desires. Everyone is hoping to find a glimmer of certainty that every day seems to escape a little further.
Will we return – as many of us hope – to organizing in-person events?
How much of the experience gained in 2020, more or less voluntarily, will still be applicable in 2021?
How much will people want to participate in online events once they are no longer the only option available, and in what ways?
And vice versa, how many people will be willing to spend money to physically travel from here to there to participate in events that for almost a year have been available on their computer and from their sofa at home?
How many companies will be willing to risk that something (we don’t even want to speculate on what it could be, even just a cold or a train strike) could jeopardize the organization of an event for which they started working – and invest money – months ago?
Conversely, how can those same companies completely give up the contact with their stakeholders and audiences which is granted by in-presence events without risking to become too virtual?
Many questions and quite a few answers.
Indeed, as we see it, there is only one:
The only way to survive, even in 2021,
is to be ready for anything.
Yes, ok, but what does this mean in practice?
In practice it means that since certainties cannot be built on sand without fearing for the next wave to come some choices will have to be made.
And does this mean that we cease to organize events until the situation stabilizes?
This can definitely be a possible answer. But is it also a viable one?
We ourselves at SharEvent noticed a slowdown in the organization of events for the first months of 2021 starting with December 2020. Indeed, some of our customers have thrown their hearts over the bar and moved all their dates after October 2021, in the clear hope of being able to carry out their events “the old way”.
They are more reassuring, and that’s what everyone wants.
In-person events surely are a ground where every event manager has built a strong experience, and they provide methods of engagement that reassure the public, speakers, sponsors.
But are we all sure that by returning to “the way it was” is a wise, safe and above all, suitable solution?
We don’t think so, not only because we mostly organize online events now. We were born to support physical events and we’ve done it until the first lockdown, so we are not at risk of losing our job if we all go back to in-presence events.
We just don’t think it’s exactly the best thing to do. And we give you our three reasons for that.
1. How to avoid throwing the baby out with the bathwater
We certainly didn’t like 2020. But this is not a good reason to throw away all the changes that, like it or not, we have gone through. Just to name one: are we willing to give up the flood of reliable data, ready in real time that the online use of a whole series of activities allows us to have quickly and with much less effort than a physical event?
Let us guess…
And if you are interested in the topic, stay with us, we will write more about it shortly. Because it is a far from secondary topic.
2. Hybrid is not a bad word, it’s a necessity
We have already talked about hybrid events (here), but if there is one thing that we think this forced indigestion of digital will leave us with, it will be the ability to integrate it in a more harmonious way into our life experience. And, along with this, to begin to appreciate everything that will necessarily be more and more hybrid. In the near future, we believe, this word will sometimes indicate more nuanced boundaries between situations and actions that we all have already seen and experienced, but other times it will mean building something completely new. This latter option will be particularly interesting, we believe, for all – and it is you we are referring to – who mainly work on experiences and their enhancement.
What do we mean by that? We think that many events in 2021 will be something like this:
they will host a small in-presence event, maybe in a location that is particularly stunning and evocative, thus capable of being at the same time in an extraordinary setting and of guaranteeing both safety and a very high level of engagement among participants. From there, the event will project itself into the world through technology to potentially become boundless in space and time.
Do you see the benefits? So do we.
3. Being ready for anything will be the only solution
In the face of uncertainty, any rigidity is a vulnerability. And certainly 2021 will be a particularly uncertain year, we already know that. Therefore, the only solution is to be as flexible as possible. But how can we do it? By using the “internet system”. No part of the web is essential and if one is cut out for some reason, the system continues to work.
This is how we think business events will have to be, if event managers will want to avoid the risk of perpetually be woefully overstressed.
How can we do it? First thing is to partner with those who are at the same time solid and flexible, the only ones who will be able to guarantee the possibility of switching from one situation to the other quickly. In this way, event managers will be able to decide to plan their events exactly as they want them to be: online, virtual, in-presence, hybrid… When needed, they will be able to switch from one to the other safely and seamlessly, losing as little money, time and energy as possible.
Guess what we’ve been working hard on all 2020, in SharEvent?
Want to start figuring out how to build your 2021-proof events? Drop us a line.