Humans are social animals – events will return!
In fact, post-COVID, physical events may become more frequent, albeit smaller and more localised, than before. People really do need to get out and socialise!
Large international gatherings – tens of thousands of people wandering around giant halls – face a more uncertain future. Sure, it’s nice to get away from the office for a few days but what about the impact of the flights on the environment and all that downtime! Maybe the ‘EXPO’ is now an old format?
A ‘tour’ of smaller, localised events – taking the message to where the customer is – may prove more effective for many businesses.
Customer-focused events may also become more popular. Instead of trying to pitch to a crowd, many of whom are not serious prospects, maybe it makes more sense to ‘set-up-shop’ for a day at the customer’s site. This is a great way to follow the old commercial maxim that – ‘it’s more cost-effective to win more business from your existing clients than it is to win business from new clients’.
And then there’s the virtual event. Sure, it allowed for a continuation of activity during lockdown but virtual events – essentially a video telephone call to a large group of people – are inherently homogeneous, one strangely seems to blend into another. The opposite effect, in fact, that events typically seek to achieve.
Vaccination programmes should mark the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though there are likely to be false starts and setbacks, slowly the events industry will emerge from near extinction.
So today there is light at the end of the tunnel, but don’t expect to find ‘life before COVID’ when you reach it. Minds have been changed and traditional activities questioned. Pre-existing trends have been massively accelerated. The 9-5 Monday to Friday standard is on its way out. For many, life and work, home and going somewhere else to meet, will merge into one fluid process spanning four days not five.
2021 is likely to be a roller-coaster ride; Q1 and Q2 should see Brexit, Biden and some vaccination alone. Maybe Q3 and 4 will offer a little more certainty with 2022 feeling relatively settled.
It seems appropriate to live life in constant anticipation of change.
And yet, one constant remains, humans will be…well, human.