Last spring, it felt like the events industry had fallen into a sinkhole. Conferences, awards ceremonies, book launches and all other events which brought people together were cancelled. Then the rearranged dates were cancelled too.

As an event host, I had to move fast to re-shape my business – and events businesses had to do the same, as we all locked into crisis mode and tried to find a way through the fog.

Fast forward to early 2021, and the industry has survived – and in some respects thrived – in a new and virtual world. So where do we go from here? I joined David Lee of David Lee Media & Events for a chat about the big changes we saw in 2020 and where we’re heading in 2021.

You can watch us discussing a wide range of issues in the accompanying video, but if you’re short on time, some of our main thoughts are:
  • We have all learned so much about online events, and what works and what doesn’t – and we must use that intelligence wisely.
  • There is still lots of room for improvement – but that’s exciting.
  • Organisations that stick with DIY events, which are not well-planned or professional, will fall behind in 2021.
  • Online events are, in many ways, harder than in-person events because you must invest significant time and resources in both content and technology – and it’s tougher to engage an audience.
  • Professional support is crucial for most online events – both behind-the-scenes and front-of-house. You need good people in the background and a brilliant host (but we would say that, wouldn’t we!).
  • Delegate expectations have risen significantly. Engaging delegates more effectively will be vital in 2021, especially improving the networking experience, and how to engage delegates meaningfully with event sponsors.
  • Take a hybrid approach to your whole calendar, not just one-off events – some will stay virtual, some will go back to being in-person, many will be hybrid. But look at the whole picture.
  • Reflect on what you have learned, keep learning, think about what all your different audiences want – and seize the opportunities!