Are In-Person Events Gone For Good?
The latest trend in the event world has been the reliance on hybrid events, a mixture of virtual connectivity and discussion using several platforms and streaming services and live performances and emcees in limited numbers that conduct the event or perform live shows within its episodes. This trend has dismissed the question that virtual events can replace in-person events since it wasn’t possible for any of the organizations or bodies that hosted the very many events that occurred in the three last quarters of the 2020 to go exclusively virtual but on the contrary they had to have some in-person features that telecommunication technology and streaming services providers still could not replace or replicate digitally. But as it shut the door on the probability of virtual events replacing in-person events it raised another that dictates that hybrid events can, and will eventually, replace in-person events. In this piece we will be exploring such probability and looking into some publications and data to reach a conclusion regarding such matters.
In an article published on Forbes on the 6th of August 2020 Blake Morgan, a senior contributor to Forbes, a customer experience Expert and author had predicted that the number of in-person events will continue to decline, Morgan based her prediction on the analysis of three factors that are:
Event Technology: The availability of digital platforms that can help transform a decent number of event types or formats to virtual events regardless of the time zone inconveniences and connection setbacks which might be an issue on several occasions.
Crowd Anxiety: Many of the persons who were supposed to attend analogue events had major concerns of getting infected or coming in contact with other people that might be carriers of the coronavirus in its early stages and hence had no symptoms.
Budget Cuts: Due to the curfews and the restrictions imposed by governments worldwide many businesses had to shut down for prolonged durations of time which resulted in low productivity and sales in general and hence low expenditure and minimal budgets.
And as she concludes that in-person events will be back in 2021 she still clarifies that the numbers of such events will be nowhere near those that existed prior to the pandemic.
On the other hand, and in the most recent pieces on the matter that was published on the 7th of January 2021, Kali Hays of the WWD stated that he expects the in-person events to return but stated that this return is getting further and further away and might not happen until 2022 providing examples of Facebook Developers Conference and CES and Shoptalk conferences that are scheduled now for 2022 after they were initially planned to be held during this year. At the moment CES and Shoptalk continue to hold their virtual and hybrid conferences and events as the number of infections surge in the US making any event plans in 2021 nearly impossible.
Even though many indicators show that any possible return of the in-person events will not be any time near, still we will have to consider that many of the given provided in the articles we discussed here will change with the enrollment of several vaccines that can reach success rates of 95%, and if given enough time with the safety measures and precautions provided by public health professionals we will be able to share space again and moments and events, we know for sure the virus will stay for long but we hope for times here it is not spreading anymore or that we develop the immunity to fight it off and get back to our lives in the way they were before the pandemic occurred.