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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Hardcastle

4 Ways 2020 Will Impact In-Person Events in the Future

2020 dramatically changed the entire event industry, forcing companies to quickly pivot from in-person events to virtual events, which are a whole different beast. All in-person events and conferences were cancelled, and rightfully so. But as the vaccine continues to roll out and achieves wider distribution, events won't go back to "normal" any time soon. As an events professional, here are four ways I anticipate in-person events changing in the future.

  1. Hybrid Events | Hybrid events are events that have both in-person and virtual components, allowing participants to travel to the event or to opt to participate from home. Many people will still be uncomfortable with traveling in the near future, and people have grown accustomed to virtual events and realize the value they provide and flexibility they allow.

  2. Serious Health and Safety Adjustments | Expect to see hand sanitizer and hand washing stations everywhere, no buffet lunch options (a conference staple) and the prioritization of better ventilation. I also wouldn't be surprised if handshakes continue to be off the table... yep, more awkward elbow bumps are in your future.

  3. Contracts | Something that many event professionals have struggled with is the inability to be released from contracts with hotels, event venues and other vendors. It's nearly impossible to get a refund in these situations, or they come with severe penalties and sunk costs. I anticipate that event professionals will more closely scrutinize their contracts and will look to add release clauses for pandemics and other catastrophic events.

  4. Improved Event Technology | Because so many organizations were forced to switch to virtual events, the development of technology surrounding events accelerated at a rapid pace. This includes everything from registration to attendee data to conference engagement. Companies like Zoom and Cvent are good examples of this. With so many more companies using their services, they experienced increased pressure to offer additional features and overall better tech for users. Mobile apps that accompany conference and events will also be improved.

Overall, I see these changes as positive. They will make attendees and event staff feel safer and force companies to be more prepared for potential future disasters and catastrophic events (fingers crossed that it's a long while until we experience another). So many event professionals lost their jobs due to the pandemic, so on their behalf, I truly hope that in-person events return as soon as it's safe for them to do so. Personally, from a business perspective, I'm looking forward to continuing to provide top-notch service to organizations running virtual and hybrid events, and to get back to my in-person event planning routes. The rush you get from executing a successful in-person event or conference simply can't compare!

How do you feel about returning to IRL events? What would make you feel the most comfortable doing so? I'd love to hear!



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