The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns have had a significant impact on events across the globe. For the first time in living memory, everything from weddings and birthday parties, through to conferences and product launch events, have had to be cancelled or moved online.
Here in the UK, as we start to emerge from lockdown and the world begins to look a little more normal, there is hope that events will return in the not too distant future – at least in some form.
So, what does 2021 look like in terms of events? In truth, no one is really sure. As we move into 2021, we might be in a situation where COVID-19 is largely a thing of the past and no longer really influences trends, or we might still be faced with social distancing measures and restrictions. In reality, it’s likely to be a combination of the two.
Of course, there will also be trends that remain relevant regardless of the COVID-19 situation next year.
Let’s take a look at the event trends we can expect in 2021.
COVID-related event trends for 2021
Even if rates of coronavirus continue to drop (as we hope they do), it’s likely that it will continue to have an impact on the events industry into 2021 as measures are taken to avoid new outbreaks.
While the risk of coronavirus remains real, the large events we’re used to hosting simply won’t be possible. This will create a trend for smaller events, at which audience sizes are more manageable.
Social distancing will also be key, meaning large venues will be required for smaller numbers of attendees, and new seating plans and layouts will have to be adopted in order to optimise space.
Hybrid events are likely to become a key event trend of 2021. Adding a virtual element to a traditional live event structure, hybrid events allow small groups to take part in face-to-face sessions, which are then shared with larger audiences using digital platforms. Attendees will be much more selective about where they go and what they do, and will be more likely to consume content online, if that’s possible.
Hybrid events will allow organisers to appeal to those who want to attend in a face-to-face capacity, as well as those who want to attend virtually, creating events with a larger reach, without compromising on health and safety.
The risk of COVID-19 spreading is thought to be less significant outdoors. This may well lead to events being taken outdoors to enable more guests to attend, where it’s easier to provide a safe and comfortable distance between attendees.
Over the past few years, event planners have been increasingly embracing technology. And, if coronavirus is still a significant risk in 2021, technology will play an increasingly central role in events and event planning.
Live 360-degree video technology can be used to connect remote audiences and recreate the feeling of experiencing an event first-hand. Apps and interactive websites can be created to allow followers to take part in the event, and events can be streamed via call platforms, such as Zoom.
Post-COVID event trends for 2021
Of course, we’re all hoping for a return to something close to normality as soon as possible.
Festivalisation is about giving your event a contemporary, festival-inspired format that will engage and entertain your attendees. That doesn’t necessarily mean holding your event in a field and encouraging your guests to set up camp.
What it does mean is making the event organic, offering a variety of content and allowing visitors to decide how to consume it.
The world around us has changed. Events planners and teams will need to focus on reinventing how they connect and engage with their communities. We may never fully return to the way we used to hold events, but that presents an opportunity to embrace our creativity, explore new ground, and look for new ways to make an impact. As a result, we will start to see events brought to life in a way we would never have previously imagined.
Overarching event trends for 2021
Whatever the situation with COVID-19, there are a number of trends we predict will emerge in 2021.
We’re more aware of our impact on the world around us than ever before, meaning sustainability is sure to be one of 2021’s hottest trends for the event industry. Focusing on sustainability and the reduction of waste, attendees will expect sustainable incentives and eco-friendly initiatives when they attend events.
During the events themselves, we can expect to see a greater degree of personalisation for guests through apps, gamification, polls and more, delivered directly to their smartphones. By inputting their interests and data into an app, attendees can receive personalised schedules, and even be matched with others for networking.
At Grubstreet, we have three exceptional venue spaces that can be tailored to accommodate your conference or event. Our spaces include the Cutting Room, which is a fully working 48 capacity cinema auditorium, the Sample Room, a former beer sampling area, as well as The Pasteur Room, a stunning 70-seater event space.
If you’re planning an event for 2021, get in touch to discuss how we can make it a success.