There’s a sense of optimism in the events industry right now. After a period of turbulence, 2022 could be an exciting year.
But the pandemic has changed the events landscape for good. Read on to find out what we think will be key in 2022…
In-person is back
We’re cautiously optimistic about this one. An AMEX survey found that globally, 81% of events are forecast to have an in-person element in 2022. And in Europe, 86% of events organisers think that the number of in-person attendees will be back to pre-pandemic levels within five years.
Hybrid is evolving
More than 59% of event marketers believe that hybrid events will be crucial for their event marketing strategy in 2021 and beyond.
So, it seems that Hybrid events are here to stay: they expand reach, improve accessibility, and provide a built-in contingency plan. But they’re not without their problems – we explore hybrid events further in another blog.
In 2022, look out for developments such as asynchronous events, where the in-person and virtual elements run at separate times. This allows attendees to discover content after the event is over, and individuals can benefit from the event even if they couldn’t make it.
Virtual and augmented reality is just around the corner
It may seem like VR and AR have been ‘around the corner’ for a long time now. But with Facebook and other tech giants developing the Metaverse, 2022 could be the year.
While we won’t be attending events via headsets or bodysuits anytime soon, AR and VR elements will start to appear. Guests might be offered headsets at trade stands to view demonstrations of the goods on offer, or 3D images of bulky products might be shown when a QR code is scanned.
COVID-safety remains a priority
As many delegates are still apprehensive about live events, it’s key that you provide reassurance: for example, book well-ventilated, spacious venues, and communicate your proof of vaccination policy clearly.
67% of event marketers say their policies include explicit language around COVID-19 safety protocols. Flexible cancellations will also give attendees the confidence to book their tickets.
Micro-events will be big
Rather than hold one major conference, companies might prefer a series of more niche events that are easier to cancel or reschedule. Scaled-back events are more feasible and pose a smaller financial risk for many event planners.
The end result could well boost COVID safety, improve engagement, and create better opportunities for guests to forge lasting connections. This brings us to our next point...
Data insights are key
No matter how large or small the event, delegates increasingly expect a high degree of customisation.
Using data to personalise content and experiences is a major challenge – and opportunity – in 2022. Done properly, it should boost delegates’ engagement and your ROI. Make sure you’ve got robust data protection measures in place.
Sustainability is paramount
At the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November 2021, the global exhibition industry association UFI presented a pledge to work towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. That’s going to be a dominant theme from now on.
The AMEX survey found that 83% of organisations were taking sustainability into account when planning events, including minimising paper usage and introducing energy-efficient and waste reduction measures.
As the UN’s Miguel Naranjo says: “The events industry has an enormous opportunity to “build back better” as we seem to finally emerge from the pandemic. Only through a renewed focus on sustainability will the industry ensure its continuity and demonstrate that it is doing its part in facing the biggest challenge of all: climate change.”