6 Ways the Event Industry Is Changing In 2021

August 3, 2021

John D’Adamo

John D’Adamo is head of U.S. sales at VenuIQBased in Florida, he boasts more than 10 years of experience within the events industry and has built long-standing relationships with some of the world’s most respected brands. His appointment and goal of establishing VenuIQ’s American entity mark a pivotal moment in the company’s development.

The in-person event industry was brought to a halt by the pandemic, and live events, face-to-face networking and the buzz of an exhibition have been missed from the business schedule for more than a year as a result.

While virtual events have been an effective alternative for both organizers and attendees, according to Event Manager Blog’s event statistics, 72% of live events failed to profitably pivot to a virtual format, and this has inevitably driven the renewed demand for hybrid and live events within the industry as restrictions begin to ease.

There is no denying that the past year has changed the event industry forever, and there is a lot to consider when bringing delegates back to venues, so it is vital that event organizers consider how the pandemic has impacted live events and are willing to adapt their approach in line with emerging trends.  

Here are six top developments we expect to see with the return of live events.

  1. Hybrid is here to stay

Hybrid events – a combination of in-person content with virtual aspects – are expected to retain their place in the industry long after the pandemic, and it is estimated that more than 66% of events professionals plan to use the format once in-person events resume.

The past year has accelerated the development of events software dramatically, and hybrid content is now more accessible than ever to both event hosts and attendees. The ability to host an event that crosses borders with global access can expand the reach of content and information, increase ticket sales and create a more popular event overall. For example, an event that hosts a Q&A with in-person delegates and utilizes events software to enable hundreds more to attend from their own homes or offices can tap into a much wider audience, making hybrid events vital for those looking to recoup profits lost in the last year.

  1. Flexible ticketing

With events transitioning from virtual to hybrid or live, organizers will need to introduce more flexible ticketing options to accommodate any future uncertainty and changing circumstances.

Small COVID-19 outbreaks, attendees needing to isolate, illness and restrictions on event numbers are all scenarios organizers must consider and prepare for. As a result, we will see them offering more flexible ticketing options so they can postpone, reschedule or move events to virtual while reducing the need for refunds and helping them retain delegates.

Flexible ticketing will also provide the ability for customers to choose between live or virtual attendance based upon their location and preference.

Implementing flexible ticketing will be the way forward for organizers wanting to retain attendees, give delegates peace of mind and allow events to operate fluidly despite restrictions and challenges.

  1. Taking an event global

Throughout the pandemic and with the growth of virtual events, organizers have seen the benefits of breaking geographical barriers to access wider audiences. Taking advantage of virtual event hosting software has allowed small events to expand their reach, and this trend is expected to continue beyond the COVID era.

Through use of hybrid events software, speakers and attendees from other countries can be included in an event without the need to pay for flights and accommodation.

Even with the return of in-person attendees, making use of events broadcasting software in tandem with face-to-face talks can continue the growth and reach of events post-COVID.

  1. Micro events

Despite restrictions easing, it is likely that many events organizers will choose to continue holding smaller micro events. Hosting an event for only 20 people, for example, can often make for a much more enriching and engaging experience for both speakers and guests.

While they are finely balanced in terms of being financially viable and don’t always offer the networking opportunities that larger events do, the ability to gather a more exclusive crowd that can better get to know the speakers, ask questions and learn more can, in fact, be much more beneficial for delegates.

These events may be favored throughout the remainder of 2021 to reduce the risk of larger-scale outbreaks and offer organizers finer control over COVID-19 safety measures among a smaller number of people.

  1. On-site rapid testing and temperature checks

Many reports are suggesting that a return to traditional live events is close to being a reality, and health and safety precautions and adjustments are expected to become an industry standard.

On-site testing and temperature checks will become the norm at many events and venues to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks amongst attendees. While they will likely be a requirement for venues as safety continues to be paramount for event organizers, these precautions also have the potential to become valuable selling points for delegates still unsure about whether they are comfortable returning to live events.

  1. Climate consideration

Recent awareness of climate change, its impact on the environment and how we can make a change has meant businesses and individuals are making concentrated efforts to reduce their carbon footprints.

The hybrid event format provides a climate-friendly option for attendees and speakers who would have had to travel a long way to attend in person.

Events utilizing virtual platforms and being marketed as "travel-free" will also become popular with attendees less willing to travel to live events due to COVID concerns.

A return to live events has been the goal for organizers since the pandemic struck but, since then, there have been a number of developments and changes to consumer behavior that have reshaped the industry for good.

By embracing change and tapping into emerging trends and opportunities that have surfaced as a result of the pandemic, event organizers can ensure their live events are a success and enjoy a profitable transition to the “new normal.”

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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.