The latest news and insights from the events industry – February 2021

The latest news and insights from the events industry – February 2021

As our industry continues to rebuild and recover from the pandemic, we take a look at some the key trends and insights that reveal how our industry has changed and how we’re adapting for the future.

Everyone’s a winner

How can we best engage attendees with our virtual events? It’s a question that we, as event planners, have had to ask ourselves increasingly over this past year. Without the immersive sensory experience of a face-to-face event, attending events online can sometimes feel a bit, well, flat.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Skift suggests looking to the gaming industry, which has successfully managed to keep users not only engaged, but hooked, for decades, could provide clues to unlocking a more vibrant online event experience.

As with any good game though, there are a few rules: 1. Don’t make it too easy. Simply allowing attendees to accumulate points with no real effort will soon turn boring. 2. Be generous with the prizes. If only one person out of thousands can win, it will disincentivise the majority who will assume that they won’t be able to come close. 3. Promote it! Make sure the gamification element of your event is prominent on your platform and well communicated.

Of course, gamification has been around for a while now, but its role in online events has the potential to be huge, especially if done thoughtfully and creatively so that it integrates seamlessly into the event as a whole.

The show must go on

Although there’s still much uncertainty in the air for the events industry, it’s encouraging to know that several in-person events have been able to go safely and successfully ahead since the start of the pandemic.

Face to face events have been staged in the UK, USA, Italy and Germany, highlights Exhibition World in a recent article. Remarkably, one of the earliest face-to-face events took place in China on the last day of April 2020, when an incredible 62,000 visitors gathered at The Hunan Motor Show. Face masks, temperature checks and QR travel codes were all in place.

In the UK, The London Concours took place on 19-20 August at the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) in the City of London. The operation plan included revised hospitality, audience capacity and increased venue space as well as separate morning and afternoon tickets.

In Seoul, South Korea, the MBC Construction Expo went ahead in May with 45,500 visitors. A strict Covid test and trace system was in place, as well as high-tech air conditioning and body temperature measurement.

Model behaviour

Talking of events which managed to go ahead last year despite the pandemic, the four-day Global Wellness Summit is one such example. The organisers describe themselves as ‘pivot experts’ after they had to switch location in 2019 due to the civil unrest in Hong Kong, so when it came to 2020, they knew what to do. They switched the location for their hybrid event from Israel (when borders started to close to limit the virus’ spread) to Palm Beach, Florida.

The event went ahead in November, and what we really love about this event was the way that, as a leading event in the wellness industry, they took their responsibility to model how events can be held safely (and enjoyably) in the pandemic very seriously. As Global Wellness Summit’s chief creative officer and executive director, Nancy Davis, said: “The idea was, if we’re going to do this as a wellness organization, we are going to model the best protocol and the best behavior we possibly could.”

As you’d expect, the on-site health and safety protocols were impressive, and included far-UVC lighting, two air-purification systems, obligatory mask-wearing (even for speakers), temperature checks and on-site rapid testing. But they didn’t forget that attending live events is also supposed to be fun, so participants got to view sessions from a traditional banquet chair, stability ball, recumbent bike, or elliptical.

It was particularly important to Davis that the event go ahead, to address what she refers to as “the parallel pandemic to [COVID-19], which is isolation and loneliness”.

Check out the full case study here:

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