Nth Degree Trade Show and Event Marketing Blog
Many of us thought that by now things would slowly be getting back to normal. Unfortunately, we are still seeing COVID-19 make its rounds throughout the U.S., which means events will most likely be substantially affected for the remainder of the year.
During this time, when virtual events have taken center stage, event professionals are starting to assess the impact of this change on their business and marketing opportunities. From the feedback I've received so far, virtual events have attracted larger audiences, but these audiences have been reluctant to engage with the content and each other. Also, while some virtual events require a lower investment than physical events, their impact on the pipeline, and ROI, appears limited – at least in the short term.
While the world is waiting to see what a post-COVID-19 landscape looks like, event planners are preparing for its impact. We’re creating new budgets for equipment and technology to allow for contactless encounters, rethinking food and beverage, and considering moving conferences to warm climates to take advantage of outdoor space.
We’re living in extraordinary times. No roadmap. No contingency plan. I think we can all agree that the changes are uncomfortable and have disrupted the natural flow of our everyday lives. For those of us in the events industry, this is more than a disruption — it’s an upheaval of our businesses and plans we’ve been working on for months. As we scramble to get creative and come up with new ideas to ensure success for our clients, we’re also wondering if this is this the new normal. Are live events going to be a thing of the past? I don’t think so; in fact, I think they will evolve into something even better than before.
Covid-19 has fundamentally changed how we conduct business, especially the business of events. Much of the industry made the shift to virtual almost immediately and that shift is expected to persist through the fall. Although the decisions to go online were swift, they weren’t easy for many companies. How will potential attendees react? What impact will this decision have on a brand? What skill sets do we need to deliver an engaging digital experience? Scary stuff. However, we have realized that, despite the challenges, Covid-19 has presented us with an amazing opportunity to build larger audiences for our programs than ever before.
In the post-pandemic world, people will emerge from their homes and venture back out into society. They’ll visit friends, favorite stores, and re-opened restaurants, but will they step foot on an airplane? Will they buy concert tickets? Attend a conference? There’s no doubt our world will look different in the months or years to come. We may even get that extra elbow room on airplanes that we’ve longed for as modified social distancing becomes commonplace.
In a matter of weeks, our society has had to pivot from physical to virtual; we’ve been unexpectedly thrust into a world of new technology. Our meetings, classes, family dinners, concerts, and game nights with our friends are now all virtual. We are living our lives at home, in front of a webcam with our families and roommates in close proximity.
COVID-19 caught the world by surprise, forcing countries to close down industry, severely limit travel, and make a host of changes they never could have foreseen. These choices will be studied, second-guessed, and scrutinized for many years. We may never see a clear picture on which decisions were incontestably correct and which were undeniably wrong. But there is one reaction, specifically in the B2B events world, that I think needs to be reviewed now, before it is too late.