In January we held a Town Hall, convening events stakeholders to look for a path forward as we emerge from COVID-19. That was January. Here’s what we’re seeing in March.
- Virtual events will have a price tag. We’re seeing less free access. You will not be able to charge anything like what you charge for an in-person event. We’re seeing access to most virtual or hybrid virtual events costing anywhere from $50 to $200, unless there’s some VIP component. So, virtual will go wide for larger attendance, but won’t bring in the same per-head revenue that on-site events do.
- In-person events are going to need to step up the experience in order to create desire. MWC, is a case in point. Just showcasing your new phone or laptop didn’t cut it. SK Telecomm’s exhibit took you on a ride through Barcelona. Other exhibitors, even those with complicated new technologies to explain, did it using metaverse-like activations from swatting giant insects to climbing Notre Dame. If people are going to travel they’re going to want to be wowed.
- Hybrid gets a black eye. Whether you’re looking at staffing, technology stacks, budgets, or other metrics, it seems unsustainable to hold two simultaneous full fledged events. Cherry picking what content and experiences should be packaged for whom will be the secret sauce and will require trial and error.
- Travel budgets are in question. Companies saved a lot of money by not traveling during the pandemic and they need to put some big $ into teching-up their remote and hybrid work operations. That may not bode well for sending fleets of workers to the next big show.
- Market corrections are continuing. When we began reviewing virtual events platforms in 2020 as new platforms were sprouting like weeds. We’re seeing now that experience pays off (Cvent and ON24), M&A pays off (Cisco and Socio), Partnerships pay off (Hubilo and Freeman) and so does building a platform (Zoom). But much of the virtual events market might disappear as quickly as it appeared. In 2020, event planners had no choice but to pay the cost of expensive platforms. In 2022, they will adjust.