Through 2021 and beyond! What’s next for the event industry?
What a whirl it has already been, the event industry feels like it’s been on a high spin for some time now. But although we have cautious optimism that we are in the final cycle in the United Kingdom, we’ve learned to respect the unpredictability of the pandemic. We’ve jumped from onsite to postponing, digital, maybe hybrid, and back again. So where do we land? What’s in store for the second half of 2021 and what about further afield? While my crystal ball is currently out for repair, I will attempt to give some predictions.
The future is hybrid, we have said it once, twice, we’ll repeat it to everyone who wants to hear it! Once consumers are presented with an option, it’s hard to take it away from them. Imagine asking people to give back their tv remote controls, motorised vehicles, their smartphones, or any other tool that has made their lives infinitely easier and has given us the power of choice. Conference attendees for example will want to have the option to join for a conference face-to-face, but when it doesn’t suit the calendar, we’ll want to be able to access the information from our comfortable couch. Additionally, hybrid conferences are better for the environment; travel, food waste, and other sustainability concerns can more easily be mitigated in that setting. And they are more accessible for global audiences, those who experience financial or geopolitical restrictions, and people with different abilities complicating travel. Well, what’s not to love?!
As an event organiser, I must add a big BUT, as this is new uncharted and untested water. Essentially one is organising two events and hoping to synergise these somewhere in the middle. But event organisers are quintessentially people of many talents and creative abilities, so we GOT THIS!
While I’m confident in the abilities of organisers creating spectacular extravaganzas, one thing that is concerning is attracting paying attendees. We have been struggling to create the same level of revenue with digital as with face-to-face, each event is up against a range of competitors and distractions that come with home life. So how do we get the most out of an event, financially and for marketing purposes?
Joseph Pine, Co-founder of Strategic Horizons LLP and author of the Experience Economy – wrote a comprehensive framework on the level of hybrids, which should help us understand what the future brings and how to create revenue with it. 
The first layer of your event will be the live in-person experience, where you can charge the attendee the full price and deliver the best possible sensory experience. The second layer is the real-time virtual experience, success in this area has been shown for many years by e-gaming and pay-per-view of sports events. However, differently than with pay-per-view, your attendees will be active participants of the event, interacting with the live content via event platforms or social media. This way you can reach incredibly large audiences, and drive revenue. The third layer is that of the on-demand experience, slice up the content of your event, and make it available in bite-sized chunks to be digested by consumers asynchronously. You can charge per package, or create a membership fee for access to all your content. Somewhat like a Netflix for your events. Lastly, you amplify the content by creating snippets tailored for social media, make sure that those who did not attend will feel like they missed something, or want to buy some of your on-demand pieces. This will have people returning, and consuming your material.
Making money with hybrid? Easy!
Have questions about developing a hybrid event?
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