Over the past three years, the events sector has faced significant setbacks, including the pandemic, which caused over 83 million people to alter their plans overnight, as reported by Forbes. Planners were forced to reevaluate their business models, transitioning from in-person events to online or hybrid events, as well as sponsorship, event technology, and content delivery.
Numerous event planners were forced to reschedule, postpone, or move their events to virtual platforms due to the acute fear of spreading infection and the widespread lockdowns. However, the events industry is prepared to make a triumphant comeback to in-person events in 2023 due to the introduction of vaccines and the gradual lifting of restrictions. In-person events are irreplaceable and essential. According to a Markletic poll, 72% of respondents would benefit more from attending a hybrid event in person.
The events industry is showing remarkable resilience as the COVID situation improves, and businesses look forward to returning to in-person events. As a result, experts predict that the events sector will experience rapid growth, with a projected value of $1,552.9 billion by 2028. If you’re wondering how to navigate this transition successfully, don’t worry – our team is here to help! We provide expert guidance and support to ensure your event is a seamless and successful experience for all attendees.
The Rise of Online and Hybrid Events
The COVID-19 pandemic and its restrictions on social gatherings had a devastating impact on in-person events. Due to the high risk of transmission, many events were canceled or postponed indefinitely. As the situation worsened, it became clear that the future of in-person events was uncertain, and many organizers shifted to online events as a solution. However, online events were found to be less effective, profitable, and enjoyable. As the world recovers, the companies are dedicated to providing safe and engaging in-person events that meet the evolving needs of attendees.
As restrictions on social distancing eased, organizations started adopting a hybrid model for events. Attendees had the option to choose between attending in person or online, depending on their comfort level. First, however, there needed to be a clear definition of what a hybrid event actually entailed. Now, with the live event industry bouncing back, people are eager to attend in-person events more than ever before. Mark Shearon, Founder of Proscenium, states that the industry is as busy as it was in the 1990s. Returning to in-person events marks a significant milestone, and attendees look forward to reconnecting with coworkers, friends, and relatives after prolonged isolation.
Navigating the Phased Return of In-Person Events in 2023
Shifting from in-person events to online and hybrid formats has been a challenging yet promising experience. According to LinkedIn, the return to in-person events will be phased, with virtual alternatives still available in the market and people remaining cautious about the pandemic. As a result, it may take some time for the in-person events industry to rebound fully. However, the situation is gradually improving, and the industry is poised for a comeback in 2023.
If you’re looking for transition strategies, our blog will provide a roadmap for successfully switching from hybrid to in-person events.
Roadmap for a seamless transition to in-person events
1. Select the right venue
When planning in-person events, it’s crucial to prioritize attendee safety and comfort by selecting spacious indoor and outdoor meeting locations that adhere to strict cleanliness and hygiene standards. By strategically laying out the event space and allocating dedicated areas for indoor and outdoor activities, attendees can maintain social distance and avoid overcrowding. When scouting for venues, make sure to create a checklist of must-haves tailored to the needs of your event participants. These steps will help ensure successful and safe in-person events.”
2. Opt for flexible contract terms, and conditions
When searching for in-person event venues, it’s essential to prioritize flexible contract terms. Ensure the contract includes force majeure clauses to protect you from liability resulting from unforeseeable external events and event insurance to safeguard against possible unfavorable situations. This way, if the event is postponed or canceled, you can recover some or all of your expenses.
3. Adopt a set of must-follow safety precautions
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected event attendance and created a shift toward online events. However, to make in-person events safe, businesses can take certain precautions. Here are some recommendations to ensure the safety of attendees:
– First, conduct pre-event COVID-19 testing or screening.
– Adhere to governmental guidelines for safety measures like maintaining social distancing.
– Establish an internal safety task force to ensure compliance.
– Provide sanitizing products such as sanitizers, masks, and disinfecting wipes to everyone.
– Use single-use recyclable items instead of repeat-use items.
– Limit the number of attendees within venues to ensure social distancing.
– Finally, ensure proper ventilation to minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
Hotels are also taking measures to mitigate pandemic-related risks, and you can check their official websites for more information. These safety measures will help businesses transition smoothly back to in-person events.
4. Host an event that includes a virtual component
With most events having gone virtual during the pandemic, many event planners predict that future live events will likely include some virtual components. Over 50% of event planners expect this to be the case. Hybrid events offer numerous benefits, such as increased inclusivity, lower costs, no travel requirements, and fewer COVID-related constraints. To enhance attendee experiences and involvement, in-person events must be paired with digital elements, as recognized by Gartner. For instance, live events can be conducted in person and simultaneously streamed on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
5. Keep in mind to staff and budget appropriately
Hosting in-person events can be costly, especially with added health and safety measures. In addition to venue and food expenses, it’s important to budget for equipment such as temperature-checking thermometers, waiver forms, and self-check-in systems. With labor shortages in many industries, it’s also important to invest time into staffing the event well in advance to ensure a seamless experience for attendees and organizers. Being well-prepared can minimize surprises and create a memorable event for all involved.
6. Support in-person events with technology
The pandemic caused significant changes in the events industry and shifted the general mindset toward safety and hygiene. As a result, we’ve all become accustomed to distancing, sanitizing, and other previously unheard-of measures. When planning in-person events, investing in continuing this trend and providing a natural and comfortable experience for attendees is crucial when planning in-person events. Technology can help establish this with sensors for automatic doors, contactless kiosks for check-ins, scannable QR codes for badge printing, RFID bracelets for payments, automatic hand sanitizer dispensers, and motion-detecting restrooms. By utilizing these tech tools, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all.
7. Be proactive and persistent in your communication
Clear and consistent communication is crucial to ensure your attendees feel at ease and understand what to expect. Before the event, keep your community updated on any changes and provide them with a thorough understanding of the event. Avoid any unexpected surprises by posting health and safety regulations on your event website and communicating them through email and social media. It’s also essential to have backup plans; your audience should be informed if needed. Showing appreciation to attendees for their participation and engagement with your community is also recommended.
The bright side of everything is that our society will become relatively close as the pandemic recedes. Things might take some time to get back to normal, but the events sector will experience a resurgence. Let us know what you think about the transition to in-person events!