The Lookout #20: Little hope for physical events and more community-based business models
Welcome to a new issue of The Lookout! As we move into Q2, it really feels that the event world is moving fast these days. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about when it comes to the events world– and the trends and topics you should keep on your radar– Spoiler: I talk a lot about events switching to a virtual format.
Some of the world’s most innovative and anticipated events go virtual this year, and it’s not just a compromise for the pandemic. This week it was announced E3, the world’s largest conference for gaming is going all virtual this year. One big change for the virtual format? The event will be made free for all attendees, with no VIP areas, and open access for all.
Fans praised the virtual format, especially the announcement that “I can confirm on behalf of the ESA that there will be no elements at E3 2021 that will be behind a paid-for pass or paywall”.
Critics suggest that the virtual format will either be a much-needed refresh to the event, or more pessimistically– the death knell of it.
E3 2021 Will Be a Virtual Event Starting June 12 [PC Mag]
E3 2021: Biggest conference in gaming is going online [BBC]
Similarly, Microsoft’s Build, and Inspire conferences, as well as the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference will be entirely virtual, also free and open to all. In the announcement, Apple highlighted the “the record-breaking participation” afforded by last year’s virtual conference.
For Microsoft and Apple, a reprise of all-virtual dev conferences [Computer World]
2021 Microsoft Build conference dates confirmed, May 25-27 [Ars Technica]
While some might miss the electricity of Apple’s traditional in-person events, According to this take, the move to an all-online Apple conference is not a bad thing. The yearly Apple and Mac events were some of the most anticipated events on the calendar– with event organizers often looking to Apple’s regular launches for tips they could apply to events in nearly every other industry. But since the pandemic, they’ve gone online– and this author brings up some strong points as to why they stay there.
Why All Apple Announcements Should Be Virtual [MacWorld]
Tradefairs look to 265 community models: With the upcoming Light + Building fair, Frankfurt Messe is moving boldly into a 365- community model for events. The transition from large scale, in person events to a community-based, or marketplace experience was one of our biggest predictions for 2021 (to be fair, we weren’t the only ones making that prediction though). Last year, we began to see startup and tech conferences moving on from their signature events and adopting community models, maintaining touchpoints with their stakeholders throughout the year (Slush and TOA are two prominent ones that come to mind). But with Light + Building, this is one of the boldest moves by a traditional fair to move into a community format.
365-Tage-Plattform: der Light + Building Contractor | Gebäudetechnik | Branchen [HLK]
I expect the movement to 365- community models for tradefairs to accelerate in the coming months. Events professionals should look to build their own synergies to deliver community options for their clients looking to pursue these types of regular projects.
- INTERVIEW: Hybrid events become new normal, virtual events business reaping COVID-19 potentials: Eve’s CEO [Ahram]
- Martech Interview on AI with SR Director Marketing, Aventri [Martech Cube]
- Is Extended Reality (XR) the Future of Virtual Events? [BizBash]
- The Virtual Event Platforms to Know About Right Now [Architectural Digest]
How to do it:
- Top 4 tips to build community from virtual events [Biz Report]
- Groups Explore New Networking Options for Virtual Events [Associations Now]
- Safe Streaming: How to Hybrid without Getting Bombed [Smart Meetings]
- Turning the digital dial [Conference and Meetings World]
- When Will Your Next Live Event Take Place? [Events Case]
- Reinventing Live: The Always-On Future of Events [Exhibition World]
Don’t Miss It:
- Virtual events open up the world [Halifax Examiner] For this attendee, virtual events have opened up a world of opportunity for disabled event participants. In the move to hybrid events, we can’t discount the benefits afforded by online events, especially those that benefit from adaptive technologies.
- 3 ways to make the most of your virtual network [CNBC] As in-person events remain far off for many, don’t let your attendees miss out on networking, virtually. Event organizers can help guide participants on how to make the most of your event platform’s networking and matchmaking features– but it can be important to brush up on some of the basics for online networking. This is a good place to start.
- Holographic IKEA bosses join store opening from afar [AV Interactive] Have you brought holograms into your events? Looking at this example, the appeal of holograms is real– and when it comes to #eventtech, they certainly can bring your event to another level.
- Keine Einnahmen mehr: Wie die Coronakrise Messebauern zusetzt [DHZ] It’s been estimated that 133 trade fairs have been canceled in Germany in 2021, and the impact on the wider industry has been considerable. Here’s what it looks like for some of the most vulnerable members of the industry– who can’t go digital– the stand builders.
- Government announces pilot events to pave way for larger audiences at sport, theatre and gigs this summer [UK Government] The UK is heading back to live events, unfortunately in Germany, it still seems a far ways off.
- Hannover Messe Digital Edition 2021: Expo, Conference und Networking [Digital Engineering] One of Germany’s biggest showcases, Hannover Messe is going all digital this year. The fair is focusing on networking and sharing some of the most impressive innovations. Here’s a sneak peek.
- The declining value of speakers at conferences [Copywriting Course] Bold argument here– but well argued.
With buzzwords and hype, it can be easy for event professionals to get distracted by all that’s happening in the industry– with new formats, going “hybrid” and the hundreds of seemingly new event tech platforms out there. For event professionals, it’s important to keep up with these new developments, but also key to remember– some of the most important elements of the event experience don’t change much at all. For example, knowing your customer, and designing an experience that provides value for them.
With some of the events we’re designing these days, they’re refreshingly low-tech– because that’s what suits the client’s needs best. The outcome might not provide the most “Instagram-worthy” images for the agency, but we don’t #makeevents just to put on a show. We create them for our clients, and it’s the attendee’s experience, and their return on value that matters most. Don’t be tempted to deviate from your methods or fall for a shiny new platform that might not be the right fit. Trust your intuition.
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