Trends and Challenges for Event Management In 2020

August 14, 2020

Kim Ludvigsen

Kim Ludvigsen is the CEO and co-founder of Interprefy, a leading cloud-based remote simultaneous interpretation platform that enables remote simultaneous interpreting for multilingual online and on-site meetings, events and conferences.

Did you know that event management consistently ranks within the top 10 most stressful jobs each year – alongside the likes of enlisted military personnel, firefighters, pilots and police offers? For event managers, there’s no shortage of things to do: finding a venue, hiring staff, getting equipment, organizing travel, liaising with speakers, enlisting caterers – the list goes on. And to make matters more complicated, each year brings with it new challenges and new trends. 

Recently, we conducted a survey of more than 100 event management professionals asking them what they believe to be the main trends and challenges for event management in 2020. One of the biggest trends we saw was rescheduling due to last-minute changes which, given pandemic, is reaching critical level for events managers.

Live streaming may be the way of the future

It’s difficult to say if live streaming will ever become the new normal, as it’s hard to imagine it capturing the excitement and engagement felt from attending physical events. In fact, according to recent research conducted by event feedback platform Explori, there is still an appetite for face-to-face meetings and conferences from businesses. Two-thirds of companies surveyed reporting that event cancellations have had a detrimental impact on their businesses, stemming from a reduced ability to build brand awareness with target markets.

However, there are obvious benefits to live streaming events, such as reduced spending on travel, accommodations and other expenses, as well as an almost unlimited number of attendees. It’s also not a drastic change from what we had experienced pre-lockdown. Many events offered the chance to attend virtually; it’s just that many have had their hand forced into this change and have been scrambling to find a technology platform that can meet their needs, fast.

GlaxoSmithKline was an example of this, taking one of its usual face-to-face conferences online through the ON24 platform to allow more than 5,000 healthcare and pharmaceutical experts across the world to listen in on discussions around vaccine development, antimicrobial resistance and more.

Dealing with last-minute changes 

Another advantage of bringing events online is being able to better deal with sudden changes, such as a venue cancellation, double-booking or finding out attendees can no longer show up. When there are last-minute changes to the schedule, this can turn what would have been a successful event into a headache.

According to our survey, last-minute changes (43 percent) and short lead times (46 percent) are the two top challenges for event managers. However, there are ways to avoid these issues and/or mitigate them where necessary.

Leverage data and technology

Data is what will enable event managers to optimize events in the future. If there’s any kind of data on set-up time, delays, issues and even attendee feedback, it can all be used to make the next event better. But the technology has to be in place. Immersion and engagement – that’s what event attendees want. So, it’s no surprise that more and more events are using projections to create incredible atmospheres. 

Instead of the typical sit-down experience where speakers talk at the audience for hours at a time, events are increasingly interactive, digital and personalized. Projection mapping is all about using technology to manipulate light onto different surfaces, turning standard objects into interactive, 3-D displays. This helps event managers to reduce on-site technology (and therefore carbon emissions) but drastically improve the attendee experience. 

Looking to the future

Knowing the trends that are defining the event management industry will enable event managers to utilize them and create experiences that resonate more with their audience. However, it’s impossible to implement these changes immediately and on short notice. Event managers need to take a measured approach to how they organize their events. Of the trends outlined in this report, there are a few which can be acted upon in the short term to make events more enjoyable, immersive and accessible. Leveraging data from these trends can help you achieve an advantage over your competition. 


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.