2021 event trends

We’ve been teasing it for a while, but the time has come to introduce our 2021 event trends guide! So, 2020 was…a year. Presented with more challenges than ever before, the events industry was forced to do a complete 180. But now that a brand new year has arrived, so have new questions. Will hybrid events become the norm? How will the expectations from attendees evolve? What emerging technologies will become mainstream? And how will the COVID-19 pandemic continuously impact us in 2021?

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We are still facing uncertain times. But that’s precisely why this year we decided to pull all of our resources together and put on our thinking caps with more diligence than ever. Through extensive research, the Endless team compiled the most comprehensive 2021 event trends guide you’ll find. While it’s hard to make absolute predictions of what we can expect from the future, we can absolutely make educated guesses. And we know event profs everywhere need every bit of help they can get. So jump right in and download your free copy of the ultimate map to help you navigate the crazy months ahead!

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What’s Included In The 2021 Event Trends Guide?

Contrary to previous years, our 2021 guide won’t be quite as straightforward. In order to capture the full scope of what the upcoming months might bring to the industry, we split this guide into three parts.

  • The State of The Industry. We felt like it was important to reach out to several event professionals and get a general idea of the state of our industry. And after surveying hundreds of people, we got a ton of great insights! This chunk of the 2021 event trends guide paints an accurate picture of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect. How many people planned a virtual event last year? How many will do so in the upcoming months? What are their biggest struggles surrounding digital experiences? And what are their thoughts on the future of events? These are only some of the fascinating details you’ll find.
  • Path One: If A Vaccine Becomes Widely Available. Vaccines against the virus have already been successfully fabricated and are now in the process of being distributed all across the globe. If these vaccination efforts are prosperous, what will happen to events? If we do reach a point where immunity is achieved by a considerable amount of people, what trends are set to shape 2021?
  • Path Two: If COVID-19 Remains.  Although vaccines are already being distributed, it’s likely that things won’t go back to normal for a while. Getting enough doses to everyone fast enough is already proving to be a challenge. So, what will happen to the events industry if in-person gatherings still aren’t possible? Here, we explore the trends you can expect to see this year if COVID-19 remains a big part of everyone’s lives throughout 2021.
2021 event trends

Path One: If A Vaccine Becomes Widely Available

If all the stars align and a vaccine against COVID-19 becomes widely available, how will our industry evolve? Should we expect everything to go back to the way it was before, or are we looking at a completely new set of rules? That’s exactly the question we want to answer with this section of our guide. The 2021 event trends we’ll explore here include:

Hybrid Events

What wasn’t exactly a new concept within the industry is shaping up to be one of its biggest disrupters this year. Several planners and tech companies already see hybrid as the certain future of our industry. However, there’s still a lot to learn when it comes to these mixed experiences.

In this chapter, you’ll learn about networking and engagement, how to cater to the virtual portion of a hybrid event, how to bridge the gap between audiences, what models you can adopt, along with many other aspects pertaining to hybrid events.

Safety

Long after the pandemic becomes a distant memory in our collective minds, the lessons we learned will remain. Ensuring the safety of your attendees within the health spectrum will be one of the biggest 2021 event trends.

In this chapter, we cover everything from contactless solutions to food and beverage preparation, along with several other best practices to make attendees feel as safe as possible when returning to live experiences.

Smaller & More Personalized Experiences

While many people can’t wait to return to stadiums filled to the brim and events that welcome thousands and thousands of attendees, others will crave more intimate experiences. What will these events look like from here on?

2021 event trends

Path Two: If COVID-19 Remains

Everything points to the possibility of vaccines not being fully distributed until the end of the year or early 2022. So, this means that virtual events will continue to be the industry’s bread and butter for at least another eleven months to come. And if this is the case, what are the 2021 event trends to look for?

Better Production & Heightened Design

We’ve spoken at large about the importance of production value. And as we leave a year marked by Zoom webinars, shaky cameras, and subpar audio, we enter a new age. One that will be defined by the necessity of bigger investments in technology that make virtual events experiences worth attending.

What can we expect from 2021 in terms of production and design? Will a good choice of platform suffice or must event profs look beyond that in order to present attendees with new and exciting opportunities?

Speaker Training: Bigger & Better

Planners can’t continue to expect speakers to just figure everything out for themselves. Sure, they will get smarter about what cameras and microphones to use for high-quality sessions, but a significant part of the budget should be directed towards speaker training.

Whether you hire a production company or take matters into your own hands, it’s paramount that planners lean into the importance of assisting their speakers every step of the way.

2021 event trends

Higher Expectations From Attendees

While attendees were quite forgiving in 2020 – also known as the early days of mass virtual events – the same can’t be said about this year. Expectations from the audience will continuously grow as technology evolves. How can planners prepare for and make sure they meet these demands in a post-COVID world?

Data Safety & Internet Security

Cybersecurity concerns will be a major trend as we move into 2021 and digital experiences become increasingly popular. Event registration and virtual event platforms as well as management software hold a goldmine of information for hackers.

As event profs, we have the responsibility to protect our attendee’s personal data and try to prevent data breaches. Here, we explore how the industry can better prepare to weather this particular storm.

Beyond The Laptop Experiences

An increased hunger for experiences that venture outside of the two-dimensional world will be witnessed in 2021. What will this look like? From Augmented Reality to interactive boards, the last chapter of our 2021 event trends guide dives into the different possibilities and roads that virtual events can take.

Conclusions

The new year is finally upon us, and with it, the trends that will shape the industry. The road ahead seems tough and challenging, but all we can do is harness the lessons we’ve learned in 2020 and try to create a better tomorrow. Not just for us, but for our industry, and for our audiences, who are in more need than ever for enthralling experiences.

This 2021 event trends guide was a labor of love. We hope this will help you and all of our fellow event professionals better prepare for the unexpected and yet exciting times to come. Don’t waste another second and download your free copy today!

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