What does the future of live events look like to you? The events world is aswirl with ideas and theories. In “Freeman Future Forecast: How Live Events Are Evolving,” a whitepaper by brand experience experts at Freeman, what lies ahead for live events, based on research by the company, was front and center.
Digital Will Be at the Forefront
Digital event technology has been around for more than a decade, but it’s yet to live up to its potential—despite its adaptability, the events world can be slow to evolve, Freeman observed. What the pandemic has done is turn something that was once an option into a necessity, as evidenced by the mass transition to online events in the last six months. Freeman’s research shows three out of four attendees expect digital to play a larger role once the pandemic is over.
With this increased role for digital, the way meetings are held could change forever. The study asks: “What if we discard the idea of what used to work, and permanently evolve events with a new approach? What if events stopped being a thing that happens for a few days once a year and became a continuous, dynamic, interactive conversation?”
The State of In-person Events
Freeman believes there will also likely not be as many in-person events, at least in the short term, as more than half of exhibitors and organizers surveyed responded that they will participate in fewer events after COVID. This, of course, only compounds the need for virtual events.
“Flexibility” seems to be the new name of the game. Fifty-three percent of respondents who never worked from home now plan to continue to do so. After COVID, this flexibility may also be expected when it comes to events, as well. “Quality and flexibility are more important to society—and more necessary—in the post-COVID world, and the traditional event model just isn’t enough to meet that need,” the study states.
Eighty percent of the attendees, exhibitors and organizers surveyed don’t see themselves returning to in-person events until mid- to late 2021. The future that Freeman sees as a result of its research is one in which the power of in-person events is combined with the reach of digital to become an integrated experience, changing the meaning and context of “live event.”
This integrated event model, which will let attendees interact across multiple platforms, at different times and locations, will allow year-round engagement, and not just during the event. Not only will it be easier for people to attend, but it will let them keep the conversation going long after the live portion of the event has ended.