What does the future of conferences & events look like?

Following our last blog on ‘How to master online events’, we have been thinking about the future of conferences and events and what this might look and feel like.

After lots of discussions across our network, 5 key factors continually emerged and resonated with us, our partners, clients and colleagues as we considered the future of events. 

We believe the future consists of both virtual & hybrid events. 

The list below is not in any order of importance, but these are all led by one fundamental notion. 

If a precedence is not set – whether it’s for a virtual, hybrid or face-to-face conference or event – then the 5 points below will fall at the wayside.

This is content

Content is, and always will be, king.

If we are confident that the calibre of our content is what has always drawn the right stakeholders, and ultimately, delegates, then we can continue to uphold our quality content. 

We then need to ensure that the following 5 key components are an essential part of our virtual and hybrid event strategies:

  1. Interaction, Participation, Engagement & Contribution: Attending virtual events over the last few months has cemented the fact that every, single event needs interaction and participation – whether it’s an internal or external event; whether it’s networking, training, team meetings or conferences; whether it’s a business event or a social one. An engaging and dynamic format, resulting in contribution from AS MANY of the participants as possible is essential for every single event.
  2. Sustainability: What are the environmental implications of events from start to finish?  Conferences, events, exhibitions, and trade shows can cause large amounts of wastage – whether it’s physical such a conference food, graphics, banners or marketing materials or resource – people, time, travel, energy and cost.

Hybrid events or virtual events aren’t just good for the planet; they also mean that we can work in a more streamlined and efficient manner on a daily and weekly basis and the impacts of this on cost savings, job satisfaction, physical health & mental wellbeing can potentially be huge. 

Everyone is talking about ‘Green Recovery’ as the way out of this pandemic, so having the planet high on our agenda demonstrates how seriously we take the conference and events industry’s impact on the environment and how we can improve this in future.

3. Diversity, Representation and Accessibility & Inclusivity: In a virtual world, we have no excuse about not having diversity and representation of delegates, speakers, panellists, sponsors, and other stakeholders.

 For those that might have travel restrictions placed on them; those with accessibility issues; people living in rural communities; colleagues who are unable drive or access public transport; or those parents having to automatically discount events at certain times of day due to childcare – we now have access to some incredible events and global connections

The barriers of entry have come down dramatically and there is no excuse – being inclusive in this new way of working should be actively encouraged, embraced and championed.

  1. Community: Every event has a community built around it. We must change our thinking to see an event or conference not as a set occasion on a set date in a set venue, but as SO much more with far more longevity than it has ever had in the past.

How do we communicate relevant content regularly; build momentum and create a real movement around every event? Answering these questions can make a huge difference to those with a vested interest in the community built around each event.

  1. Creativity & Innovation: The world has changed so much in the last few months. For the planners amongst us, we have an opportunity to test those new ideas that we have never been able to, or we can introduce something new and disruptive because we don’t have to keep following the status quo – because who knows what the status quo is anymore!

As we have laid out, the future of conferences and events in the foreseeable future is both virtual and hybrid. 

When organisers can run in-person events again, virtual events will still be an integral part of our strategies.  Whether we embrace them or resist them, virtual events are here to stay.

What are your thoughts on how conferences and events have changed in the new world and how they might continue to evolve?

Have you had to cancel or postpone an in-person event and are you wondering what your next move needs to be?  We have some innovative solutions to help you migrate your conference or event to a virtual platform and our Technical Production Director is more than happy to answer your questions.

If you would like to speak to us over a free 30-minute video call, email us at events@theeventshub.com, call 01506 300277 or book a Zoom call at www.calendly.com/theeventshub/30min