Trends and Challenges for Event Management In 2020

Did you know that event management consistently ranks within the top 10 most stressful jobs each year – alongside the likes of enlisted military personnel, firefighters, pilots and police offers? For event managers, there’s no shortage of things to do: finding a venue, hiring staff, getting equipment, organizing travel, liaising with speakers, enlisting caterers – the list goes on. And to make matters more complicated, each year brings with it new challenges and new trends. 

Recently, we conducted a survey of more than 100 event management professionals asking them what they believe to be the main trends and challenges for event management in 2020. One of the biggest trends we saw was rescheduling due to last-minute changes which, given pandemic, is reaching critical level for events managers.

Live streaming may be the way of the future

It’s difficult to say if live streaming will ever become the new normal, as it’s hard to imagine it capturing the excitement and engagement felt from attending physical events. In fact, according to recent research conducted by event feedback platform Explori, there is still an appetite for face-to-face meetings and conferences from businesses. Two-thirds of companies surveyed reporting that event cancellations have had a detrimental impact on their businesses, stemming from a reduced ability to build brand awareness with target markets.

However, there are obvious benefits to live streaming events, such as reduced spending on travel, accommodations and other expenses, as well as an almost unlimited number of attendees. It’s also not a drastic change from what we had experienced pre-lockdown. Many events offered the chance to attend virtually; it’s just that many have had their hand forced into this change and have been scrambling to find a technology platform that can meet their needs, fast.

GlaxoSmithKline was an example of this, taking one of its usual face-to-face conferences online through the ON24 platform to allow more than 5,000 healthcare and pharmaceutical experts across the world to listen in on discussions around vaccine development, antimicrobial resistance and more.

Dealing with last-minute changes 

Another advantage of bringing events online is being able to better deal with sudden changes, such as a venue cancellation, double-booking or finding out attendees can no longer show up. When there are last-minute changes to the schedule, this can turn what would have been a successful event into a headache.

According to our survey, last-minute changes (43 percent) and short lead times (46 percent) are the two top challenges for event managers. However, there are ways to avoid these issues and/or mitigate them where necessary.

Leverage data and technology

Data is what will enable event managers to optimize events in the future. If there’s any kind of data on set-up time, delays, issues and even attendee feedback, it can all be used to make the next event better. But the technology has to be in place. Immersion and engagement – that’s what event attendees want. So, it’s no surprise that more and more events are using projections to create incredible atmospheres. 

Instead of the typical sit-down experience where speakers talk at the audience for hours at a time, events are increasingly interactive, digital and personalized. Projection mapping is all about using technology to manipulate light onto different surfaces, turning standard objects into interactive, 3-D displays. This helps event managers to reduce on-site technology (and therefore carbon emissions) but drastically improve the attendee experience. 

Looking to the future

Knowing the trends that are defining the event management industry will enable event managers to utilize them and create experiences that resonate more with their audience. However, it’s impossible to implement these changes immediately and on short notice. Event managers need to take a measured approach to how they organize their events. Of the trends outlined in this report, there are a few which can be acted upon in the short term to make events more enjoyable, immersive and accessible. Leveraging data from these trends can help you achieve an advantage over your competition. 


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