10 Trends Event Organizers Should Keep an Eye on in 2022

The pandemic was like a reset button, or more like a re-shuffle button, altering our priorities and shifting our societal attitudes. COVID-19 brought with it an epochal change, condensing our social lives to be conducted through phone and computer screens.

After a long wait, things are slowly and steadily getting back to normal. However, the re-shuffling that we experienced during the pandemic will thwart us from getting back to exactly how we used to live before.

Workplaces have not opened up in full capacity, working from home is still common, and about 98% of remote workers want to keep working remotely (at least for some time), mainly because of health and hygiene concerns.

Social gatherings and in-person event trends have been impacted dramatically by the pandemic. On one hand, digital technology has enabled virtual events, and on the other hand, there are the health and safety concerns that plague one’s mind. This combination has posed a big question mark over event trends in the upcoming year.

So here is a list of the trends that event organizers should keep an eye on in 2022:

1. In-person events will make a reluctant comeback

It is a rare merry moment for event venues and organizers. After almost two years of virtual events, finally, there is a flicker of hope for social gatherings. While a large number of people crave to meet and greet in person, health and safety concerns lurk in everyone’s minds.

According to the 2022 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, there is high anticipation of in-person meetings making a comeback in 2022. The same forecast reveals that event professionals have also increased their event budgets for this year.

This anticipation has also led to a massive spike in the pre-booking of event venues, hence if you are hoping to organize an event this year, make sure you book the place early.

According to the forecast article, it seems like a busy year awaits us, yet it is advisable to be thorough with cancellation policies owing to the precarious nature of the situation with the virus and consequent restrictions.

While work-life might not get back to exactly how it used to be, the AMEX forecast is excited about the return of in-person events in some form. The positive vibe of the report also calls for organizers to have backups for event staff, just in case.

Even though the forecast is filled with hope, and almost everyone is excited to get back on track, the comeback will surely be met with reluctance from many.

2. High employee turnover will affect events

The pandemic gave us plenty of time for introspection, and re-evaluation of our life priorities. The work-from-home culture also pushed employees to overexertion with skewed working hours for many in the initial phase of lockdown.

A phenomenon termed “The Great Resignation” was observed owing to the demands of a healthy work-life balance. One of the prominent issues discussed at the International Confex 2021 conference was concern with the altered expectations of employees from their work culture.

Event planners should now look out for the challenge of understaffing while organizing an event. The problem of understaffing often doesn’t reveal itself until the last moment.

Event planners are also feeling the pressure of work overload, almost one-third of them claim to feel the exhaustion.

The solution to these problems is to treat employees well, provide them with support, benefits and compensation to make sure you don’t lose them.

3. There will be a greater focus on health and safety

The pandemic has made us more conscious of our surroundings and sanitation requirements. Planning requires consideration of maintaining hygiene levels throughout the event.

Studies show that 58% of respondents were seeking “confidence in duty-of-care components for attendee health-and-safety” when considering whether or not to attend in-person events. Risk assessment is now crucial to event planning.

A few pointers to keep in mind are:

  1. Plan for outdoor events where feasible, always ensuring social distancing space.
  2. Ensure that abundant sanitation stations are spread throughout the event area.
  3. The seating plan should comply with covid safety protocols.
  4. On-site testing facilities should be made available.
  5. Health and sanitation protocols should be thoroughly communicated in advance and on the day to attendees.

4. The growing integration of AR/VR

The “new” is always exciting and when safety comes packaged with it, it is even more interesting. Augmented and virtual reality are becoming popular. The pandemic especially facilitated the normalizing of AR/VR as the new normal.

Augmented and virtual events are now accessible options for event professionals. The possibilities are exciting and suitable also for in-person events. Virtual tours can be made exciting by creating interactive maps for events and venue tours. Digital maps allow attendees to familiarize themselves with the venue beforehand.

With the growing technology, augmented realities can be made readily available in the form of apps on smartphones as well.

5. Virtual events will become normalized

One of the major reasons that virtual events stand out is that they can reach a larger number of attendees. The costs are also reduced in the case of hybrid or virtual events.

However, to make virtual events successful, event planners need to invest generously in virtual event software. Virtual open houses are becoming more common. These are a great way to vicariously experience the venue. They cut down on the cost of travel and save the time that would have been spent to be physically present at the venue. Virtual open houses are great for college open day events as well as for real estate tours, where attendees can look around the space before making their choice.

Hybrid events have the best of both worlds. Owing to the uncertainties and mixed feelings of event attendees about in-person events, the best option for many would be to attend a hybrid event.

6. Growing demand for environmentally-friendly and sustainable events

The environment is a pressing concern, and over the past couple of years there have been big trends towards eco-friendly alternatives and sustainability initiatives. However, sustainability is more of a necessity than a trend, we owe it to our future.

Many planners and event attendees are choosing to commit to more sustainable business practices and eco-friendly events.

The best ways to reduce carbon footprint while organizing events is by:

  1. Organizing virtual/hybrid events. Travel is responsible for 85% of an event’s carbon footprint.
  2. By reusing materials for events and using recycled products during the event.
  3. By hosting smaller, more frequent and more local events, and incorporating virtual or hybrid events, planners can reduce the carbon footprint that event travel is responsible for.

7. Event marketers will play a strategic role

Event marketers, who previously were thought to be episodically functional are now taking on a bigger role. The gap that set digital marketers and event marketers apart was that of digital knowledge. The pandemic has filled this gap. Event marketers are now taking a full swing in turning, for instance, a simple webinar into a well-organized program with the true experiences of an event.

With their enhanced knowledge of digital, event marketers are getting the mix just right for organizing virtual and hybrid events.

8. Competition is expected to grow

On-site, in-person, events are making a return after almost two years — competition for attracting attendees is obviously high. One way event planners can stay relevant in this competitive market is by incorporating the event trends of 2022 that are in high demand.

The first visual our mind creates of a virtual event is of logging in to a meeting link to stare at faces in tiny little boxes. Sounds mundane and boring, right? Event planners need to make things more worthwhile and interesting for their attendees.

One of the best ways to attract an online audience to an event is to have someone popular as the keynote speaker. Hiring a relevant keynote speaker ensures that you create a buzz, and that will attract more attendees. The rewarding experience of listening to an inspiring keynote speaker can give your event an edge over the competition.

Smarter event tools and smarter event marketing are required to make events a success. Even with the stress of curating a great event strategy, the experience of event marketing post-pandemic is extremely exciting. It’s like having a new canvas with a fresh set of colors and paintbrushes to design a wonderful masterpiece.

9. The growth of online community roles

A virtual event might be able to replicate the feel of being part of an in-person event, but an event is not just about the attendee’s engagement with the venue but also with the other attendees.

Collaboration, which is an essential component of success for any business, has been hampered in the past couple of years due to a lack of opportunities for interaction. Businesses grow with the help and support of many people, hence collaboration skills are essential for the employees of any organization.

Online communities ensure a space for these collaborations to be initiated and take on a solid foundation.

Event planners might be able to organize a massive and vivid replication of an in-person event, but how would they replicate the networking experiences and the chances of meeting like-minded people or potential business partners?

The growth of online communities plays a significant role in enabling the success of virtual and hybrid events. Online communities have given companies the opportunity to stay connected with their audiences throughout the pandemic period and also allowed customers to interact with one another.

Online digital spaces created by companies for customers ensure their engagement in discussions, networking, and building relationships, even without attending an event. Clearly, creating online digital spaces can help make up for the lack of in-person meetings.

10. The need for event marketing tools

Smartphones have become an extension of us, and using smartphone apps as an event tool can give your marketing efforts a great boost. Networking features incorporated into your event app are often crucial for the success of your events.

The continuing shift from online to hybrid events will be seen in the year ahead. Event networking software supporting the hybrid experience will be a star feature for any event app.

Mobile event apps will make it easier for event planners to connect in-person attendees with virtual ones, and the latest features like video meetings and matchmaking will create a smooth and engaging networking experience for event attendees.

Using technology as a tool for event management has several benefits:

  1. Saves time by automatically tabulating the data, organizing schedules, etc.
  2. Cuts out human error.
  3. Helps monitor costs in an efficient and error-free manner.
  4. Eases networking.
  5. Enhances collaboration.

Get your 2022 events going!

Yes, you need to be super attentive and keep your eyes open for any new development in event trends in the year ahead. The event scene is getting back to normal, only the definition of normal has changed. The trends have changed but bring with them an exciting opportunity to mix and match, and curate an event that is enthralling as well as relevant to the times that we are living in.

So, what are you waiting for, you have a lengthy list of trends you need to keep in mind for organizing an outstanding event this year, get going!

This was originally posted on SpeakerHub Skillcamp.

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