In early 2019, a virus took hold of the world and changed life as we knew it. One of those changes, especially for those in the event industry, was the freeze on large events, such as trade shows.
While no one is certain how and when large events will resume, there are some ideas about how the industry will begin to bounce back. Humans are social creatures, and while virtual events have served as a critical replacement during this time, virtual contact will never be able to offer what face-to-face interaction does. Therefore, while the progress to a new normal may be slow, it will come.
Here are some things to consider about the future of events in a post-covid-19 world, whether you are an organizer, attendee, exhibitor, or other professional in the event industry.
1. Emphasis on Hygiene – People are more aware of hygiene in public places than ever.
As we have seen in grocery stores, doctor’s offices, and all sorts of places, hand sanitizer dispensers should and will likely be a mainstay in public spaces, including event spaces. It is important that organizers work closely with venues to ensure all possible measures are taken to keep people as safe and healthy as possible. Cleaning high-touch surfaces regularly is critical, as well as thinking about safety surrounding food service and other high-traffic areas.
Contactless options are gaining popularity. Organizers can use this technology to implement self-service check-in kiosks, to limit long lines and close interactions during registration. Mailing out people’s badges and badge holders is another way to limit close contact. In addition, event apps can continue to take the place of printed brochures.
2. Smaller Events – Organizers may choose to hold smaller events.
One trend we will likely see is hybrid events that allow attendees to either attend in person, or to watch and participate remotely. This ensures events can accommodate people who may not feel comfortable traveling, being around other people, or are on a tighter budget due to the way the virus has impacted the economy. Organizers should embrace the opportunity to host a hybrid event, as it allows them to offer a less expensive option, while keeping numbers up and attendees engaged.
Another way events may be smaller is the option to have multiple satellite events, with or without one main event, so people do not have to travel as far and organizers can limit the size of each smaller event while still maintaining pre-Covid attendance overall. Events can also incorporate curated networking opportunities that match people based on their roles and interests. This creates smaller groups with the potential for more meaningful and beneficial interactions.
3. Social Distancing Measures – We are all familiar with social distancing at this point, and there are several ways events can continue this practice.
First, seating should be spaced out and crowd sizes should be limited. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. For instance, expo halls may have extended hours and provide attendees with specific time slots to regulate the number of people inside at one time. Clear directional signage can help direct attendees to avoid traffic jams and long lines. It is important for organizers to think of the flow of the event space, and problem-solve areas that are more likely to have high numbers of people at one time.
Social distancing is also important for eating areas. Buffets are now a thing of the past, and ready and prepared takeout food is an option that can limit long lines and crowded areas. Again, space out seating and consider giving attendees time slots for meals to avoid a rush.
4. Improved In-Person and Virtual Experiences – With people concerned for their health and many with tighter budgets, event organizers have to step up their offerings.
It is more important than ever to have high-value, worthwhile content that entices people to either attend in person or to engage remotely. High production value is important for both the live event and the virtual experience. Organizers will need to work hard to communicate their events’ value, while adapting to the different needs and comfort levels of attendees. Offering high-value networking opportunities is another important key to attracting attendees that should not be ignored.
While the world continues to adapt to a new normal that is constantly changing, event organizers and attendees can rest assured that this industry will bounce back. In the meantime, offering hybrid events is a great way to engage those not ready to return to in-person gatherings, and the above measures can help keep all those who do attend in-person safe. The event industry is resilient and will find its balance between helping people interact as it has always done, while accommodating a new reality post-Covid-19.
About Adler Display: Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, Adler Display brings more than 80 years of experience to its clients in need of recognition displays, lobby and corporate interiors, custom exhibits, historical timelines, trade show displays, and signage and graphics. For more information about Adler Display, please visit the website at https://www.adlerdisplay.com/ or call 855-552-3537.