While factors driving the return of in-person events may be outside our control, we can work to understand the dynamics of the new meeting environment and prepare for a variety of executable options. Early days of the pandemic found Meeting Planners asking, “when will things get back to normal?” After, eight months into the “new normal” many of us are still asking that same question. With that uncertainty in mind—how do we plan for events in 2021? The answer lies with Hybrid Events. Through a hybrid approach we can motivate, educate and recognize our Consultants while keeping them safe and comfortable no matter where or how they decide to engage.
Many of us are missing the human connection we used to have in both our work and personal lives. With a large number of organizations moving permanently to virtual work environments, (while limited every day in-person activities continue to contribute to feelings of increased isolation), people will be searching to fill the gap. More than ever, events will provide opportunities for re-connecting human connections and offer true networking opportunities that are now missing from the traditional office and personal environments.
There’s no doubt that increased confidence in travel safety practices and medical advancements will gradually bring back the opportunity to hold in-person events. A September survey of 1,364 Global Business & Travel Association Companies indicated 70% of respondents expect a return to in-person events in the 2nd half of 2021. A Planner Confidence Index Survey by Expo Direct reports that 49% of planners have active RFPs in process. Of those Planners 16% expect their next event face to face event before the end of 2020 and 73% have future face to face events contracted. Yet, as the meeting planning community anticipates this return, there is a realization we won’t be returning to the same “old normal.”
Uncertainty persists. If in-person events are just around the corner will a virtual meeting component still be necessary? No matter their size or tenure, Direct Selling and Network Marketing companies have experienced record-breaking attendee numbers under these circumstances. Virtual access has expanded Consultant reach in attendee type and geography—sometimes even three or four-fold!
People who could not have attended conferences due to travel costs, work or family schedules, geographical barriers or even physical limitations are now able to participate in all of the same activities as their onsite peers. It’s logical to assume that the barriers that kept a number of these Consultants from attending previous events will likely remain—even post pandemic. It only makes sense to continue offering remote connectivity within events an alternative solution.
Since 2021 will bring a renewed interest in finding deeper engagements and irreplaceable experiences for onsite and remote attendees, how can we capitalize on this emotion and position ourselves for success? What do we need to know about this new Hybrid environment and how do we plan for these new and sometimes fluid challenges?