Like virtually every other sector turned upside down, the event industry had its winners and losers. Angel Micarelli, SVP of Content & Strategy at Cramer, takes a closer look at the future of events and stresses the need for being agile and flexible.
â€œChange before you’re forced to changeâ€ â€“ a great Roger Goodell quote that could use a 2022 update. To wit: â€œChange before you’re forced to changeâ€¦ again.â€Â
Some were in the right place at the right time (Hello, Zoom!). Some had the wherewithal and capabilities to pivot. And some â€” well, let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be in the ball pit business. You’d think we would have learned to be ready for anything. But sure enough, in between Delta and Omicron, corporate 2022 event planning started to look a lot like the â€œbefore times.â€ Big crowds are traveling to one location. No virtual option. Packed agendas. Then one variant later, companies were forced to changeâ€¦again.Â Â
There is no excuse for being caught unaware. So, as we move forward, let’s not call it the new normal. Normal means predictable. We can’t get comfortable with normal. It’s the new nimble â€“ here, flexibility is key.Â And that flexibility extends beyond responding to the vagaries of public health. It’s about adapting to changing audiences, new technologies, and pressing issues. It’s about ditching traditions sometimes and thinking creatively at all times.Â
The Impact of Flexibility
Applied to the future of events, here are some of the ways flexibility will have an influence and impact:Â
Cadence, channels & pace: The idea that you can connect with your audience once a year to just plain impractical. An event should be a touchpoint in a communications continuum. Knowing that content can be spread across multiple channels and months takes the pressure off the main event. It gives you the flexibility to deliver messages by different methods like a podcast, webinar, or dedicated event community site. It also allows for matching the pace to the channel.Â
Broadcast mindset: Virtual events matured fast because, with everything online, the quality bar got raised fast. Corporate conferences were taking place on the same screen as Saturday Night Live at Home. We’re all in the TV business, with virtual and hybrid events here to stay. That means high production values, bullet-proof technology, and compelling presenters are essential. That broadcast mindset opens the door to new ways of thinking about everything from presentations to keynote speakers to the audience experience.Â
White space: When people get together at events, the number one thing they want is time with each other. It sounds like a no-brainer, but building in unstructured time for attendees to connect is essential.Â
Sustainability: The Events Industry CouncilOpens a new window has published Four Principles of Event Sustainability. Interestingly, environmental considerations like energy conservation and waste management are just one aspect. The other principles include promoting a healthy, inclusive society and supporting a thriving economy. In total, they address all 17 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It’s a powerful blueprint for the future of events.Â
The audience at scale: When virtual went mainstream, it opened up a new way of thinking about audience reach. They can come from anywhere, in any number, at any time. So can speakers and entertainment. Virtual and in-person can mix. The experience can be expansive or intimate. The possibilities are wide open.
â€‹DE&I: This is a movement that has become a mandate. Events need to reflect a company’s commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion on every level, from content to accessibility to speakers. This is not an add-on but a holistic approach to programming.Â
Metaverse: No discussion about the future of events can ignore the metaverse. It would be like being that guy who thought TikTok wouldn’t take off. The metaverse creates the ultimate flexibility when applied to a virtual event. The venue becomes anything you can imagine. The added layer of AR/VR opens the door to immersive, one-of-a-kind experiences for hybrid and in-person events. We’re still at the metaverse threshold with many technology issues that need to be addressed before it becomes mainstream.Â
The future looks bright because events are about bringing people together at the end of the day. Making those connections is fundamental to being human. How we come together will continue to evolve. The choice we can make is to embrace the new nimble and constantly innovate our strategies, tools, and mindsets. Change is goodâ€¦ especially when we’re ready for it.Â
What innovations in events have you recently experienced or applied? Share with us on LinkedInOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , or FacebookOpens a new window . We’d love to know all about it!