Hello 2021! The #REDSQUAD is back and ready to crush another year. As promised in “Redstone’s Top Takeaways of Virtual Events in 2020” we’re making our event predictions for 2021. While we certainly don’t have a crystal ball to tell the future (wouldn’t that be nice!), planning 250+ digital events last year and 1,000’s of events before that has equipped us with the skills to know what to expect and how to best prepare for any given situation.
Without further ado, here are Redstone’s event predictions for 2021 for virtual, hybrid and live events:
Unanimously, our team believes virtual events are here to stay for the foreseeable future. However, this doesn’t mean digital events will exist in the same way that they did in 2020. We have come so far from Zoom events at the start of the pandemic! We are now seeing great innovations and updates from virtual event platform providers including AI, Augmented Reality, and 3D immersive experiences.
This also means that the longer virtual events are dominant, the more planners will continually have to find new and creative ways to engage virtual audiences – but I know we’re up for the challenge! With the increased popularity of the Digital Event Strategist Certification from PCMA (we have a few on our team!) and other programs such as the Virtual Event & Meeting Management Certificate from The Event Leadership Institute, planners in every industry are increasingly looking for ways to learn and develop their virtual event skills and apply it to their work.
We believe that in Q2 or Q3, we will start to see hybrid events become the norm (if we are not already depending on your location in the world). This means that local delegates will have the opportunity to attend an event in-person and either the entire event or certain aspects will be streamed online. This drastically breaks down barriers to attending an event and the ability to bring together people from all over the globe, who would not normally have been able to attend, has proved invaluable.
It’s important to keep in mind that hybrid events are complex and will not come without their challenges. When planning a hybrid event there are many things that need to be taken into consideration (but that’s a whole other blog post). It’s like planning two events as you must consider how to deliver the content and programming to both in-person and virtual delegates. If one thing is true, events will need to have a digital aspect moving forward.
Of course, the goal of the industry is to get back to in-person events. However, we don’t foresee the first large scale in-person events (in Canada) happening until 2022. When we do meet again, we will be in a new era of events and how they’re executed. Long gone are the days of buffets, passed apps, and over capacity breakout rooms. We will see increased health and safety measures, precautions, and logistical planning for how attendees move about a venue. We will also see smaller capacity rooms and different seating configurations to ensure all delegates are comfortable.
And of course, as mentioned above, there will be a need for a hybrid component. There is going to be a want to travel, to see and engage with others, and some people will be comfortable with this, while others won’t. If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that in-person events will not go back to “the way they used to be”. But they will evolve – hopefully into something better than ever!
We recognize these predictions may seem like they are being seen through rose colored glasses. However, we are “glass half-full” kind of people. We’re sympathetic to the hardships our industry and other industries have endured, but if how our industry has responded to the pandemic is any indication of its resiliency and perseverance, we know we are in for a great 2021!
Do you have any event predictions for 2021? We would love to hear them! Let us know in the comments below.
Are you planning a virtual or hybrid event in 2021? Check out Redstone’s digital and hybrid event services for how we can help you. Wishing you all the best for the year ahead!
Kaitlyn McGuirk, MPC
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