Is it time for an events revolution?

Gemma Edwards | Wednesday, April 08 2020

Since January, hundreds of events have been cancelled, from large-scale tech conferences to smaller networking forums. Government laws banning social gatherings have had a massive effect on an industry that thrives on bringing hundreds to thousands of people together.

People at live events

With no indication of when we might be back to normal, organizers are looking at innovative ways of delivering events. Some companies have shut-down their event businesses, going entirely virtual, while others have quickly adapted to the digital realm in an attempt to keep business alive.

So, with all this energy being spent on going virtual, can we expect events to return to how they were in the past? Will the current virtual communication craze become the norm? More importantly, will organizations have the budget? This is truly a worrying thought for everyone in the events industry.

There are advantages to digital events. For attendees, they are a real time-saver. They are also more sustainable and budget-friendly. For organizers, it’s possible to reach a larger audience by making events more accessible. Plus, there’s improved tracking for return on investment and significantly less financial outlay involved.

For those that go digital, we will see a change in event marketing, with a focus on being seen in an already saturated market. Events teams will need to shift their attention to audience interaction, engagement and the delegate journey. Content and how it is presented to audiences will also change. It’s safe to say we will see a trend in events going online, but going digital isn’t easy and to do it well requires a huge amount of imagination and hard work.

From our experience, most people attend events for the face-to-face business conversation and to make new connections. We believe that not all big tech conferences will disappear. We are human beings and human beings enjoy interaction. Nevertheless, it may take some time for physical events to bounce back. When they do, will we see new hybrid events emerging? Will delegates be able to choose whether to attend an event in person or online? Will there be a move toward engaging content composed for shorter attention spans?

Only time will tell, but we are excited to keep bringing you the Canalys Forums – this year and in the future!


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