A few weeks ago, I read a post on LinkedIn that shared someone’s very bold discontent with 2022 event forecast posts. I have to say, I totally disagree. When it comes to forecasting for the upcoming year, you want to hear things from the experts. I’ve spent the bulk of 2021 growing our business in virtual and hybrid events, so we’ve seen firsthand what clients want. Plus, what they’re struggling with, and questions that hint towards where our industry is going. I’d be remiss not to share those experiences with other event professionals after such a difficult year for so many. We’re in this together. And part of success is anticipating trends and planning accordingly. So, I’m going to share our EBA 2022 event forecast, because I think it’s important to stick together and share expert knowledge so we can all succeed!
Here are a few things we see impacting events marketing teams next year:
It’s Going to Be More About Connection Than Awareness
Views of a social post are great but sponsors and event hosts are going to want more in 2022. Real connection is what breeds success in today’s environment. In a world where 76% of people say they’d buy from a brand they feel connected to over a competitor, connection is key.
So as an event host, how can you build community at your events?
- Offer intimate micro experiences
- Host exclusive customer advisory groups
- Make sure you’re building virtual experiences not webinars
- Engage with “speed dating”-style networking events with strategic pairing
- Prompt interactive panel discussions
- And more…
This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Experiential Tech Is the Future of Event Engagement
Regardless, whether your attendees are logging on virtually or walking the halls of a convention like the “old days”, it’s time to level up with immersive experiences that are led by innovative tech.
The event industry was forced to embrace technology more than ever before to survive. Now, there is no turning back. If your event isn’t high-tech, it’s not going to impress or produce ROI for your organization. While it’s here to stay, that doesn’t mean implementing it is easy—nearly 65% of event professionals are struggling with designing digital event experiences according to PCMA.
Some ideas could be touchless gesture-based displays for live events or augmented reality worlds for product demos that can be accessed from a mobile device.
Teams Will Plan a Greater Number of Events Than Ever Before
The pandemic shifted our lives to virtual for over a year and during that time, many companies realized the benefit of virtual events. They require lesser lead times to produce, they’re more cost-effective, they have a greater reach—the list goes on. So, with that comes a much higher number of events annually for many companies. While those events may be in different formats than previous years, companies like Yahoo are being quite open about the jump.
Allison Galloway, Director of Events & Experiential Marketing at Yahoo shared with The Vendry, “Our team is now working across way more programs than we ever did [pre-pandemic].” In addition, speaking with a Trade Show & Events Manager for a global manufacturing solutions company, their events calendar more than doubled to 120 events a year in North America alone.
Hybrid & Virtual Are Integral to Effective Event Strategies…
A blended event strategy is key for success moving forward. Each event is unique with differing goals and objectives. It’s time to start analyzing those goals because now you have multiple avenues to deliver those events to your audience. Nearly ¾ of large companies will be adding hybrid to their event strategy as a mainstay moving forward. Plus, 71% said that even when live events are back in full force, they’ll still maintain and grow their virtual event strategies.
If your goal is to reach as many individuals as possible, virtual is always a good option. However, if you want more opportunities for reach and connection, hybrid is the way to go.
… But In-Person Events Will Make a Comeback
In-person events will be smaller, but they will be coming back. A recent survey by EventMB found that 78.3% of planners are planning an in-person event for 2022. With that, 55.6% said they’d be smaller events and only about 19% said they’d be the same size as usual.
Health & Safety is #1 for Our 2022 Event Forecast
With a comeback from live events and hybrid taking the forefront, health and safety is every team’s top priority. While it’s absolutely possible to host a safe event for all, it does come with a cost that must be factored into your event budgets as you work on those now.
Consider additional staffing to incorporate things like COVID Health & Safety Compliance Managers, servers to man buffets, additional cleaning crews for hourly cleaning of high traffic areas. This is just the start! Then, you’ll want to also think about the cost of pre-event COVID testing, touchless technology, PPE for attendees and staff, and the cost of hosting a virtual event simultaneously for hybrid.
While it’s a lot, it’s worth it to give your community that face-to-face interaction we’ve all been craving for the past two years.
Have You Started Strategizing for Your 2022 Events?
Are you planning on altering your event strategy in 2022 to incorporate some of these event industry trends for the upcoming year? It can feel daunting to be innovative in the ever-changing event landscape that we’re living in today, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution. But our team of event professionals at EBA lives these changes and navigates planning successful virtual, hybrid, and in-person events every day. And we’re ready to help you be event trendsetters, elevating your events for six-figure success in 2022. Let’s chat!