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What’s in Store for Returning Events?

What’s in Store for Returning Events?

One of New York’s largest and most iconic sporting events is coming back live this year: the TCS NYC Marathon

Even with a limited cap on participants, the marathon will attract 33,000 runners from around the world. 

It’s not just a celebratory moment for the running community, but it’s a hopeful sign for others ready for in-person events to return. 

In the business world, conferences and trade shows are already gearing up. 

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In-person events are waking up, but the virtual element continues

In-person events are returning with limited capacities and safety measures in place. 

Tobacco Plus Expo was one of the first trade shows to return to Las Vegas in May. It attracted more than 4,000 people and went off smoothly. 

“Everybody’s hyped to be here,” said Ryan Puentes of Afghan Hemp to Las Vegas Sun. “I think a lot of people are happy to have that vibe of getting out and doing stuff again. It’s good to see it.”

Even though businesses learned how to switch to virtual events last year, online experiences can’t fully replace the buzz, networking and element of discovery that in-person shows offer. At the same time, industries want to hold onto the benefits that virtual events offer.

Virtual events are more cost-effective for the organizers and participants, they allow more people to join and, with well-designed UI, they enable participants to attend more keynotes and to select more meaningful sessions. 

Because virtual events proved effective last year, leaders believe that digital events are here to stay—even if it’s in a smaller capacity (e.g. hybrid trade shows). 

Tech consultant Tim Bajarin has attended over 30 virtual events and explains why he thinks online conferences will outlast the pandemic

“After attending so many virtual events that have been well produced and highly successful, it leads me to believe that many companies will continue with this format,” he explains. “In the future, some may find the need to add an in-person event too, but that may be smaller than the large ones they did in the past and include virtual access to broaden their audience of attendees.”

Businesses—trade show organizers, sponsoring companies, participants and virtual event platforms—will be reimagining their event world over the next year.

For most, the return to in-person will be slow

Though professionals are ready to connect with their peers again, most companies are not rushing the process. 

“With an extended lead time to plan, we’re definitely taking a walk-before-we-run approach—we want to use this time to think through what we had been doing in the past, what worked and what could use improvement,” said Hilary France, Co-founder and CEO of Brand Assembly. 

Her company recognizes that the world has greatly changed over the last year and they need to continually prioritize safety for participants in a ‘COVID-sensitive’ world. 

CES—Las Vegas’s biggest annual trade show—is coming back in 2022. In 2019, the event brought in 182,000 people to the city. For the 2022 event, many questions around safety, capacity and digital options are still up in the air, but organizers have nearly a year to plan for the highly anticipated event. 

Because most physical events will come back towards the end of 2021 and in 2022, planners are working to determine how virtual platforms can enhance the physical experience and safety measures needed in a world less threatened by COVID. 

For more updates like this, stay tuned. Subscribe to our blog for more updates on coronavirus and its mark on the economy.