Summer 2022: A Reckoning for Eventtech
As predicted, the summer event calendar has been busy. Jam packed with festivals, conferences and expos, everyone’s been making the most of a return to ‘normalcy’. Some are breaking expectations on attendance.
What do these events have in common, besides a shared calendar date? They’re largely running in person. Only a few of these are hosted entirely in a digital format.
Since the summer began, virtual events have had a marked slowdown. With lessening restrictions, physical events have had an incredible resurgence. While attendance numbers tend to be down from 2019 levels, new types of physical events are popping up, more regional gatherings, and lots of new team-building events for remote offices.
The current physical reality has created a challenge for some. Event tech companies who experienced an incredible boom when everything was remote– are feeling the impact hard. Mass layoffs, and lowering stock prices, have encouraged many event tech companies to pivot, moving their platforms towards virtual office spaces, or dedicated remote working platforms. Others have dug in, with expansive promotional strategies and impossible-to-miss marketing campaigns, continuing to remind the industry they are still here.
But all of the marketing dollars and sponsored posts cannot convince event professionals of a platform’s utility if what they offer is not the right fit for the event concepts attendees are looking for right now.
How can technology bring the event experience to the next level of value and engagement for attendees, rather than just a substitute? We’ve seen how a return to in-person events requires a more conscious and thoughtful approach to the digital features of the event experience—far beyond replicating the physical. This is something that many event tech companies struggled to master.
Just because the landscape has shifted, it doesn’t mean that there’s not a place for digital events. Digital event tech is supporting in-person events like never before, powering the data behind it and bringing remote attendees along for the experience. Digital will continue to be key but must evolve. I expect the current downturn for virtual event technology will creatively challenge technology providers to better deliver on their promises, to become more efficient, more effective, and more understanding of the experience organizers wish to create. The beneficiaries? Event organizers and their attendees. But let’s wait and see.
Here’s what I’ve been catching up on this week:
The event industry’s changing landscape:
- Event Attendance Stalled at 65 Percent Post-Pandemic: As Good As It’ll Get? [Skift] Industry publication Skift Meetings (formerly Event MB) calculates event attendance down 65% compared to 2019 levels. Is it time for the industry to panic? The events industry is in recovery, but there are a number of challenges on the horizon, in Europe, mass inflation, smaller budgets and limited staffing are contributing to lower attendance rates. Another change is the shift to regional events, rather than global ones, as the travel industry continues to recover.
- Materialmangel & Preissteigerungen [Event Partner] While the impact of Covid for the summer event season has been minimal, there have been a number of reverberating effects on the logistics landscape that continue to cloud the upcoming event calendar. Supply chain disruptions have continued to impact equipment and technical suppliers, potentially threatening the viability of certain event concepts. As an event producer, how likely are you to be affected? And if so, what is your liability if you cannot produce the event under contract? Here is a comprehensive piece discussing the current state of the industry and how event organizers can prepare themselves in the worst-case scenario.
- Munich unleashed [Exhibition World] Messe Munich’s Klaus Dittrich shares his take on the “new age” for the German trade show industry that has flourished after the pandemic. The chairman argues that the industry must continue to evolve its business model, beyond renting space and to continue to challenge itself to focus on creating a meaningful experience with content that attendees can takeaway from.
- Corona-Pandemie: Gesundheitsminister planen für den Herbst [Tagesschau] In light of the recent report by the German government’s Corona Advisory Council, the country’s health ministers aim to prepare for possible covid restrictions for the upcoming fall and winter. The country’s event industry has argued that capacity restrictions or bans on trade fairs should not be part of the country’s plan for virus containment, especially in year 3 of the pandemic.
Digital event technologies
- Bizzabo axes almost 30% of employees [Ctech] Event tech platform Bizzabo has announced they will lay off 120 of their 400 employees as they prepare for an extended downturn in their business. The company has grown rapidly over the past years, unveiling new branding and a number of new acquisitions recently. The company raised $138million in series E investment in December 2020
- Event Tech Hit by the Perfect Storm [Skift] Thoughtful piece that lays out the multiple factors that have hit the event technology market over the past few months– economic downturn, a return to physical, a number of overhyped/overvalued companies are now feeling the pinch. It doesn’t mean entirely negative news for the eventtech industry, only that a reset is likely to come.
How to do it:
- Fresh Ways For Brands To Unleash The Creative Potential Of Live Video Streaming [The Drum] While digital events might be out for the moment– live streaming is in. Event organizers can use creative live video to maximize engagement and enhance hybrid experiences. The key to an effective live stream, and not a boring one is creativity, and building an experience around the video format, rather than using it as a substitute. There are plenty of great examples in this article to build that creative spark.
- 10 Virtual Event Marketing Tactics and How to Use Them [Trade Show News] Don’t let your virtual event get passed by– it’s time to make the most of the advances in digital marketing to ensure everyone has eyes on your event. In this piece, Rachel Stephan argues that the secret to successful event marketing is through engagement– and letting your audience and attendees maximize your event’s reach.
- How to Get Published: 9 Tips for Getting Your Events Media Coverage [BizBash] With every week that passes, it seems like the event calendar gets ever more crowded. How to get your event noticed in a sea of alternatives? Here’s a great primer on how to pitch your event towards media outlets, and how to bring some positive PR to your event marketing.
- Welche Venue Services sind jetzt ein Must-have bei der Location-Wahl? [Event-Partner] Choosing a location for your next event has taken a new dimension thanks to the growing digital needs of participants. Additionally, hygiene concepts, sustainability factors, and studio spaces all factor as critical requirements for event producers. Here are some top suggestions on how to make the most of your next venue scouting tour.
Don’t miss it:
- Inside Angel’s Envy Meta Distillery Experience [BizBash] It seems that the appetite for metaverse events has dissipated somewhat, as the temperatures heat up. But I still think there’s a role for the metaverse in the events of the future, so I appreciate when brands take a risk to try things out. This “Meta Distillery” created by Angel’s Envy in the Decentraland metaverse created a fun brand experience for visitors to check out. The space hits on all of the key goals of experiential marketing that make for an effective event experience.
- Two Minutes with Kate Patay, CPCE [MeetingsNet] How should organizers consider event and conference design with engagement in mind? – it doesn’t include having a speaker talk at the audience for 45 to 60 minutes – “that’s so 2016” according to Kate Patay. The event industry veteran shares some takes on what makes events look current in 2022.
- Orlando will test if a physical city can be the center of the metaverse [Venturebeat] Orlando, Florida, one of North America’s biggest cities for destination events is making a strong bet on the metaverse for the events of the future. The city is working with developers to create a “digital twin” of the city to demonstrate the benefits of connecting virtual worlds to the physical one.
In the meantime, 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 online, or digital events, let me know! I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions.
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The Lookout Newsletter #64
PIRATEx Managing Director