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The Future of the Event Industry: 2021 Outlook

The Socialfix Kickass Content Team

Written by The Socialfix Kickass Content Team

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A year and a half into the pandemic, the world is faced with a resurgence of cases, pushing governments to tighten containment measures. The prospects of the events and meetings industry remain uncertain, as Covid-19 brought travel to a screeching halt, pushing event marketing experts to get creative. 

The Challenge for Event Marketing

With travel restrictions and airport closures in place, the industry has been largely decimated by the impacts of the novel coronavirus. Infrared and thermal scanners, protective equipment, sanitization, cleaning, social distancing, and reduced queuing and touchpoints at airports will shape our experiences post Covid-19. 

Many are wary of traveling, whether for leisure or business, and this trend is likely to continue. According to the Harris Poll, about half of the Americans, or 49% say they will fly within 6 months of the curve flattening.

Online Conference

With air travel down 60% and containment measures reintroduced and extended repeatedly, the events industry has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis. The threat of future outbreaks and lockdowns makes for a challenging environment for live events. But despite the widespread uncertainty driven by Covid-19, the industry is already adapting to new realities. 

Part of the reshaping is going digital and holding virtual events to make up for missing in-person interactions. The search for alternatives is ongoing, opening up opportunities and bringing innovative concepts to life such as organizing events where visitors interact through virtual avatars. 

The New Event Marketing Landscape

Faced with uncertainty about the pandemic’s end, however, industry professionals need to make tough decisions. Should they invest in a virtual or in-person business or are hybrid events the future? To answer this question, let’s look at some of the trends and audience perceptions that may shape the future of the events industry and its marketing

Growing Public Interest in Virtual Events 

A global survey run by AnyRoad and including data from Conde Nast explored audience perceptions of virtual events amidst and post the pandemic. According to Senior Vice President of Commercial Marketing & Events for Conde Nast, Eric Johnson, “There is a much higher aptitude for engaging in this virtual format” (Impact Plus). 

Event Online Stats

Event Online Stats

Event Marketing Stats

Events Stats

 

 

Indeed, the survey found that 70% of their audience has already attended a company event and the vast majority of respondents (90 %) would still consider a virtual offering once things go back to normal (Digiday). 

Virtual Conferencing Part of the New Event Marketing Future

Many scientists and academics believe that conferences should continue to be virtual. A Nature poll involving over 900 participants found that 74% of respondents appreciate online conferences and believe academic meetings should have a virtual component or be virtual post-Covid-19.

Event Online Stats

Participants were also asked what they appreciate the most about online scientific meetings. About half of all academics (49%) said they are more accessible. Factors such as lower cost (19 %) and lower carbon footprint (21 %) were second and third most cited.

When asked about the biggest drawbacks, 69 % of respondents agreed that it is networking opportunities that they miss the most. “I do appreciate the realm of possibilities offered by online conferences,” one participant explains. 

Event Online Stats

“I really miss the opportunity to meet people and to interact with friends and colleagues,” he added. Other drawbacks that were cited include digital platforms not working properly (4%) and time-zone differences (12 %). 

Still, virtual conferences offer some real benefits, especially for scientists who find it prohibitive to jet around the world. Academics with disabilities also find it easier and more convenient to attend from home.

In-person meetings could also disadvantage scientists from countries with low vaccine rollouts. In addition to the risk of facing travel restrictions, they will be more vulnerable to infection, explains Joan Larrahondo, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at the Pontifical Xavierian University in Bogotá (Nature).

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Zoom Fatigue & Event Marketing

Despite growing public and academic interest in online events, there are signs of virtual event fatigue among audiences, partly because the market is already oversaturated- making it particularly tough for event marketing specialists. 

Video conferencing platforms have become busy places for meetups, activities, on-demand and live-streamed events, and gatherings, with millions of meetings scheduled daily. And while video conferencing helps bridge the gap between countries and people, scientists warn that video meetings fatigue people. 

Digital Fatigue

According to Jeremy Bailenson, Ph.D., Department of Communication Professor at Stanford, with video chats we need to put more effort into sending and receiving nonverbal signals. To show others that you agree with them, you put thumbs up or do an exaggerated nod. When everyone is framed from the shoulders up, it is difficult to read body language and hand gestures. 

When we cannot rely on nonverbal cues, quality interactions rely on intense attention to words. This increases the “cognitive load as you’re using mental calories in order to communicate,” explains Bailenson (Stanford News). 

Digital Fatigue

Zoom fatigue is taxing our brains and emotions and results from overuse. With social distancing protocols keeping us apart, we spend long hours on videoconferencing and events platforms. 

And amidst a global crisis that is unprecedented in scope and breadth, the coronavirus is no longer just a novel disease. For many, it causes financial hardship, emotional exhaustion, and feelings of loneliness and social isolation. These stressors also play a role in why we feel so mentally drained and fatigued. 

New Virtual Personas & Event Marketing

Based on a survey involving 700 participants, event platform Bizzabo identified 6 different personas and their motivations to attend virtual events. “Understanding your attendee personas can help to customize and tailor aspects of your events”, explains Co-Founder of Bizzabo Alon Alroy (Exhibitor). 

The 6 universal personas that the team identified are:

 

1. Experience seeker

There experience seekers (7%) are those who attend virtual events for the built-in activities they can join. Before the pandemic, they used to travel often to meet new people and have fun. Experience seekers sign up for virtual events to socialize, participate in giveaways, and receive gifts. 

Online Events

2. Internet socializer

Internet socializers (8%) enjoy virtual events and spend most of the time socializing with other attendees. 

Online Conferencing

3. Strategic networker

Strategic networkers (10%) are mainly interested in making and maintaining business connections. Learning is not their main motivation. It is networking. What worries them most is that virtual events offer fewer opportunities to socialize and make connections. 

4. Radical networker

Radical networkers account for 18 % of all attendees. The social aspect of events and networking serves as their main motivation. They miss in-person events and the opportunity to socialize and spark a spontaneous conversation. 

Conferencing

5. Mandated learner

Mandated learners attend virtual events only because their company requires them to do so. They account for 25 % of all attendees. 

Solo Learner

6. Solo learner

Solo learners, who are the largest group (32%), sign up for multiple inexpensive and free events to gain industry and work-related knowledge. 

Each of the six personas has different needs, perceptions, and motivations. Virtual seminars, conferences, and meetings have their share of fans that enjoy the opportunities that online events offer.

For others, however, they cannot be a substitute for in-person events and cannot replicate all aspects of the experience. 

What this means for the events marketing industry is that the future of events is hybrid. When it comes to virtual events, marketers will benefit from aligning events with attendees’ personas and motivations. 

Designing experiences around attendee personas will result in increased retention and engagement as well as more personalized event experiences and refined marketing messages, Alroy explains. 

The Future of Events & Event Marketing is Hybrid 

Conference

A major study conducted by the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry and event platform Explori polled more than 9,000 participants from 30 countries. The study focused on the experiences of attendees and exhibitors at digital and hybrid events and how they feel about the lack of in-person events. 

The findings show that the majority of people still prefer in-person events but there is a growing interest in hybrid and virtual experiences. Live events and B2B conferences are seen as an opportunity for networking, with 83%t of attendees and 77% of exhibitors showing a strong preference for in-person events. The study also found that 79% of respondents have at least some interest in joining a hybrid event (UFI). 

The study findings offer insights to industry leaders as they plan ahead. Most people show a clear preference for live events and doing business in person. “Future digital events marketing will not seek to replicate the in-person experience”, says Explori’s Managing Director Sophie Holt. Instead, virtual events can help engage “communities, guide audiences through unfamiliar territory and meet customers where they are,” Hold adds (Explori

In Conclusion

Event Marketing

The quality of virtual events has improved significantly since the pandemic, with marketers seeking creative approaches to beat virtual fatigue. Virtual experiences are here to stay but live events are certain to come back when the pandemic subsides. 

We need and crave in-person interactions. The biggest challenge for event marketing experts during lockdowns and social distancing is the loss of human connection. Being part of a community, having a sense of belonging, and socializing are fundamental traits that make us human. Event specialists will need to be creative in delivering solutions that serve the new landscape and the needs of their customers. 

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Event Marketing Agency | B2B Events | Brand Activation | Experiential Marketing FAQ’s
Event Marketing Agency | B2B Events | Brand Activation | Experiential Marketing FAQ’s

What Is Event Marketing?

Event marketing consists of strategies and tactics for promoting a brand through impactful experiences. It involves direct or online interactions between an audience and a brand.

How Does Brand Activation Work?

Brand activation is the campaign/event a brand organizes to interact with and influence customers’ actions. 

It’s used to generate brand awareness, build customer relationships and develop brand loyalty through direct engagement with target audiences. 

Does Socialfix Do Experiential Marketing?

Yes, we do. We plan and execute events that fit our clients’ needs. We’ve been involved in various events, shows, conferences. 

We also specialize in producing video and TV production that aid your brand’s storytelling. 

Let’s plan your event together! 

How Much Does an Event Marketing Campaign Cost?

That will depend on the type of event, and the individual needs and goals of our customers. 

Send us a message and we’ll discuss the details.

How Effective Is Event Marketing?

According to recent statistics over 80% of event organizers are able to reach a wider audience with virtual events. Another 68% of B2B marketers say live events help them generate more leads. 

Event marketing is effective and an engaging way to reach audiences. It can save you about 200 hours of work per year. 

Do I need an Event Marketing Strategy to Work with Socialfix?

You don’t need to have an event strategy. Socialfix will help guide you towards what’s best for your brand so you can achieve your goals at 100%.

Does Socialfix Do Event and Conference Video Production?

Yes, we do! Check our work here

What Are B2B Events?

B2B events are virtual, live, or hybrid events organized by a brand and attended by other business representatives. B2B events aim to raise brand awareness, build business relationships and promote sales.

Does Socialfix Do B2B Event Marketing and Video Production?

Yes, we do! Drop us a line and let’s get planning! 

What Is a Brand Activation Agency?

A brand activation agency is focused on organizing immersive brand experiences like conferences, workshops, networking events, product launches, and award events.

Socialfix Media is a brand activation agency focused on creating authentic relationships between our clients and their audiences. With the help of experiential technology, we can help you reach your target audience. 

How Does Brand Activation Marketing Work?

Brand activation marketing works through building awareness and connecting brands and target audiences. They allow people to engage directly with one another and create genuine connections that help build trust and promotes

Can Socialfix Help Me With My Event Brand Activation Strategy?

Yes, we can! Send us a message and will world together to build your brand activation strategy.

How Do I Measure My Brand Activation Results and ROI?

Brand activation results in improved brand awareness and brand reach to measure your results and ROI start by setting clear objectives.

What action do you want your audience to take after your event- start following you on social media, visit your website, sign up for your newsletter? 

Track your website traffic, social following, and newsletter sign-up post events to measure how successful your brand activation campaign was. 

How Do I Plan a Brand Activation at a Hybrid Event?

A few fundamental steps your can take – set your goals and vision for your event. Plan, set responsibilities, create content, collaborate with sponsors, invite attendees.

If all that is something you prefer experts take care of you- contact us

Why Is Brand Activation Important?

It gives you the opportunity to create genuine connections and brand loyalty, among other reasons. 

What Is Experiential Marketing?

Experiential marketing is a marketing channel that focuses on raising awareness through face-to-face and online communication opportunities. The goal of experiential marketing is to build and preserve customer loyalty long-term.

What Are Some Great Experiential Marketing Activations?

Creating a need;

Raising curiosity;

Establishing good brand recall;

How Much Does Experiential Marketing Cost?

It is always individual and depends on the brand’s needs and goals. 

How Do I Measure Experiential Marketing Results?

Set objectives. Gather customer data. Analyze. Or just contact us to help with all. 

Why Is Experiential Marketing a Must in 2021?

It’s one of the most effective tools to build stronger connections with customers. 

See More

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