What Is the Real Measure of Events in 2021?
This week I received a call on my personal number with an invitation to attend an upcoming industry event. The caller excitedly shared they would be waiving the entrance fee (just over 300 euros), because “we’d like to get more people in the room”.
Everything about the exchange was awkward, from the unprompted call (how did you get my number?), to the somewhat desperate plea to fill up seats. If these are the measures we need to take to meet in person again, maybe this is one event that doesn’t have to be held in person.
People are becoming much more discretionary with the events they attend. The pandemic is one big trigger, but also other concerns such as the environmental costs of attending events will continue to resonate. Don’t try to force in-person events to make a point.
I’m reminded of the pictures of International Confex I’ve seen on social media this week. The captions by excited participants, thrilled to be back in person, contrasted sharply with interior images of the venue I saw taken by attendees. In a number of them, things looked rather, well empty.
Pictures on social media are far from representative. But, even if the in-person numbers are not like before, that is not what should matter. The event is having a huge resonance online, thanks to Mash Media’s sophisticated media operation. This is something that event organizers can really take a lot away from. I predict the impact of International Confex to last long after the event is over– and resonate much further than just those attendees in person.
For too long the event industry looked at the success metrics of events as largely a numbers game. The most important number of all for many organizers (and their shareholders), was the amount of people in the door, maybe followed by exhibitors and sponsor revenue. It’s time to move on from this.
As the pandemic has created an intense shift, organizers are already looking at the entire event experience more holistically– the wider industry must pay attention to this too. It’s not just the numbers that matter. It’s the experience of those excited attendees, and the takeaways of the individuals who are watching the replay (maybe unaware that it was attached to a physical event) that really will go the distance. It’s not just about filling square footage, or selling a certain number of stands. It is about delivering something that brings people together in a way that’s impossible otherwise. Creating an experience that is memorable long after– and something that’s meaningful beyond the stack of business cards that your participants might pick up.
I hope you’re having a great week. This week, we’ve been producing PIRATE Live for the second time. I hope you were able to catch the Future of Events track! ICYMI– you can watch the replay by login into our online event platform. The last day is today — join us for free if you haven’t yet! I’ll have a lot more observations for you next week on how things have gone. Producing a digital event of this scale is just as taxing as if it was in person!
Here are my top reads from the week. Be sure to not miss the one by Pausefest’s George Hedon!
- Virtual events startups have high hopes for after the pandemic [TechCrunch] TechCrunch surveys insiders into some of the biggest Eventtech platforms out there about their take on things after the pandemic. What they had to say is what you might expect– the future is hybrid.
- International Confex: ‘Keeping the fire burning’ This week, the mostly-UK but some international event Industry insiders came together at International Confex. The sentiment shared online by participants was very positive, with social distancing, in a number of pictures appeared to be in place. Things looked back to “normal” inside the venue, largely without masks. Exhibition News has comprehensive coverage of the event, available here.
- MedtecLIVE GmbH acquires ‘T4M – Technology for Medical Devices’ [Exhibition World] Another example in a trend I’ve been following recently– a bit of consolidation in the exhibitions and events sector. In this example, the medical technology trade fair MedtecLIVE, acquires T4M, a trade conference for Medical Devices.
- Industry gathers to create reporting standards for digital trade shows and events (RSDE) [Exhibition World] A consortium of event industry organizations have come together to help decide a standard set of data measures for digital events. Interested parties can comment on the proposed universal data format until Sep 21, 2021.
- Gamescom 2021 attracted 13m viewers [PC Games Insider] Last week’s Gamescom smashed participant records, with an audience of 13 million people this year. Reporting the figures, event organizers Koelnmesse and German trade body Game, said these numbers represent a 30 percent increase compared to last year’s event.
- The Events Industry kicks off towards net zero [UFI] Exciting and ambitious targets set out by the UFI as they pledge to move to a Net Zero Carbon event future. The UFI plans to have a standard set before November’s COP26, and aims to include a 50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030.
How to do it:
- 4 Things All Virtual Event Producers Need to Know [BizBash] Illustrative insider into the virtual event held by the National Bar Association. With 150 education sessions and a keynote from Vice President Kamala Harris, the event utilized a virtual world online platform, vFairs. Some of the tips they suggest are useful for virtual events of all types, and we couldn’t agree with more– such as speaker coaching for effective online presentations.
- How to Make Hybrid Events Better for Online Attendees [Successful Meetings] Hybrid event experiences are something that many organizers are still working at getting right, as things reopen. Don’t leave your online attendees behind when you go back to in-person by engaging them specifically on the online platform of the event itself.
- Making The Case For Why Virtual Digital Marketing Events Are Alive And Well Post-Pandemic [Forbes] Extended reach is just one of the main reasons why digital marketing events are here for the long haul. Most importantly, they meet your audience where they are, when they are ready to make that buying decision.
Don’t Miss it:
- The Wild West of Online Events [Selected] Wow. What an illustrative piece and what a wild ride conference organizer George Hedon experienced when looking for the right online platform to host Pausefest. His openness and candor here speaks directly to the challenges that many organizers feel when faced with digital technologies. The frustrations literally leap off the screen– I wish more would be as open and honest. It comes to the final point– the agony is worth it to do right by your attendees and your participants. A must read.
- ‘I’ve never smelt anything like it’: confessions of a Reading Festival litter-picker [Telegraph] The Reading Festival welcomed 10,000 revellers under the UK pilot events scheme. What they left behind makes you question if people really deserve the return of in-person festivals after all.
- Burning Man goes virtual as thousands descend on in-person festival anyway [NY Post] Last week I shared hot to log on to the Virtual Playa at Burning Man. But it appears that the virtual experience was not enough for many “Burners”, who flocked to the desert location in person. The unauthorized “event” could draw up to 20,000 people.
- Beyond virtual: the rise of technology empaths [Shots] Colette Crespin, director of virtual experiences at the Burning Man Project, writes movingly about how to create empathetic human experiences in a digital format.
- Virtual modality [Chemistry World] What really happened when academic events moved online in response to the pandemic. Organizers fnd high attendance and conversations that resonate.
That’s all for this week’s edition of The Lookout!
Let’s stay connected if we’re not already on Linkedin or follow the PIRATEx team on Twitter. If there’s anything you would like to read about when it comes to remote, or digital events, let me know! I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions.
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Until next Friday!
The Lookout Newsletter #40
PIRATEx Managing Director