The event landscape has never been more dynamic, innovative, and exciting than it is today. With the emergence of online and multi-platform experiences, events have the capacity to reach a wider audience across the globe, while growing digitisation means technology is being used in more innovative ways to drive new (and better) experiences.
But now that face-to-face events are returning, what’s changed? And what trends will be in focus going forward?
It’s almost a given nowadays but events managers won’t be an exception in making experiences available online for people to attend or interact with from the comfort of their homes. With the pandemic still, a prevalent part of society, including an online option affords people who are in isolation, sick, uncomfortable, or otherwise unable to attend the option to remote in. While this may present challenges, being able to consider the virtual aspect of physical space in designing events looks likely to be integral to success far beyond the pandemic.
It’s not just allowing people to remote in, either. New technologies can be used in a variety of ways to add texture to events, whether it’s the digital basics of event hashtags or spaces for “shareable” snaps, right through to innovative uses of augmented reality in providing immersive experiences, like the NGV’s self-guided AR tours which overlay detailed information over the physical experience.
As countries around the globe make more commitments to net zero targets, the private sector will increasingly be called on to do more to reduce its footprint. For event organisers, this means a need to look at every aspect of their operation to identify where improvements can be made.
Advancements in technology have made it easier for events to shift their work from paper to digital while taking a critical eye to the waste associated with bump-ins, bump-outs, goodie bags and catering can result in cost-savings and improved sustainability (win-win). For example, the recent Committee for Melbourne Event was a zero-waste event, including menus projected onto the table cloths, instead of printed menus that added a wow factor with a side of sustainability.
Location will also play a key role in events looking to market themselves as sustainable. Holding an event that is close to public transport is a surefire way to reduce your carbon footprint and limiting parking, previously seen as a negative, encourages patrons to leave their car at home and can contribute to the event’s broader philosophy.
With the fast-paced nature of today’s society, mental health and well-being have taken a front seat, and event organisers are well advised to be mindful of facilitating an environment that’s stress-free. Incorporating de-stress breaks or specific activations related to taking a breath can help give attendees time to reset through longer events.
But, after two years of working from home, the importance of fostering collaboration and connection is more important than ever. Hosting events that go back to basics and encourage working together, brainstorming and networking will be a welcome change for attendees. Within the bounds of health and safety, it’s important we take a moment to celebrate the ability to be the social animals we are. While the structure is important in the development of events, having unstructured time and space for people to just “be” is more valuable than ever.
The pandemic has given every facet of society and job role a reason to pause, reassess and reimagine the way things are done. In the rush to get back to a sense of normalcy, it’s important to not throw the baby out with the bathwater and go back to the “old normal”. The last two years have been a disruptive force, but it has driven positive change and new ways of thinking in many areas. While the pandemic won’t be a headline forever, the way events are planned and executed has irrevocably changed.
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