What Is The Future Of Events?

The Covid-19 pandemic forced the world to go virtual. Physical events were cancelled, everybody turned to Zoom, and virtual events became the new normal. Yet, as the vaccination rollout progresses, and mask mandates are eased, it’s become possible to imagine a world in which we return to a lot of the physical events that we have always known. Admittedly, we may not return a full-on normal for some time. In this article, we will discuss what the future of events is.

Virtual events have been the default type for the duration of the pandemic. This is because at a time in which physical closeness comes with enormous risks for one’s health, virtual events are the safer medium. Yet, they have significant downsides. Virtual events do not offer the wealth of visual cues that help a person understand a situation and what is being said; visual cues that physical events have in abundance. Virtual events are harder to keep interesting. From the Oscars, to work events, we have all struggled with making and keeping virtual events fun, engaging, and collaborative.

An advantage of virtual events is that they can scale up in a way that physical events cannot. A virtual event can go global and reach more people than a physical event, because it does not need to have a so-many people within a confined space. Yet, successfully hosting a virtual event requires an innovative approach. One difficulty that events managers have had throughout the pandemic has been that of creating a collaborative atmosphere and fostering networking.

For many event planners, the future of events is a blend of the physical and virtual, blending the strengths of each in a powerful way.  For instance, a physical event may be allied to a virtual component that allows people to collaborate and network in ways that physical events do not allow. For instance, a presentation done in-person may be aided by an app that guides each participant through the presentation and allows the participant to collaborate and network with other attendees. Already, any top event space has the tools to ensure that an event can have a virtual component if the planners want it. 

The global possibilities of virtual events are something which event planners cannot ignore and the pandemic has taught us that virtual events are possible. With concerns over the carbon footprint of travel, and the success of virtual events showing that we do not have to assume the costs and travel times that physical events demand, hybrid models are very likely in the future.

Regardless of the possibilities of virtual events, they have downsides. We have all struggled with networking during virtual events. There is something to be said about the spontaneity of meeting a person at an event. It’s not just the spontaneity, it’s all the visual cues I mentioned earlier, that allow you to read a person and connect with and communicate with them at a deeper level. 

The future of events is likely to be a hybrid of physical events with virtual components, taking the best of both to create a more powerful type of event. We are still navigating through what that will look like, but it will certainly be something new, powerful and very different from what we have known in the past.