As events large and small continue to be canceled across the globe and companies have suspended all or non-essential travel, impacts on the events industry are and will continue to be significant. Those of us in the events industry will hopefully grow in ways we wouldn’t have if we hadn’t encountered this adversity. And, while adjusting to uncertain circumstances, keeping an open mind for opportunity is important. Helen Keller, someone who certainly exemplifies coping and thriving in times of adversity, is credited with saying, “A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn.”

As events professionals, many of us believe in the power and necessity of face-to-face interactions to move business or personal interests forward. We’ve built our careers around this belief. And we’ve strived to make every event better than the last. Now, we have the opportunity to help transform the industry to better support our events in the future.

Five opportunities for growth in the events industry:

  1. Customization of event tech – companies will unbundle offerings to remain competitive. There has never been more opportunity for event tech companies to reconsider the structure of their offerings. Companies who remain flexible by unbundling the various features of a product or service, and pricing them accordingly, will be better able to compete going forward.
  2. New products and services will connect customers to what they really want. With the current slowdown in event work, those who serve the events industry—from A/V providers and General Service Contractors to the venues that host the events—will need to develop new products and services that will give them a competitive edge. These new features will refresh and elevate the industry.
  3. The number of smaller, regional events focusing on specific interests will increase. For events with large exhibit halls, deconstructing a signature industry gathering into several smaller events may not be feasible. However, for those large shows that attract diverse audiences with different needs, there may be a benefit to connecting attendees in smaller, focused groups regionally with reduced travel requirements. Suppliers have the opportunity to customize and scale their offerings for smaller, more intimate events.
  4. Technical developments will continue to drive virtual connectivity. As we know, the human interactions are a critical component of an event’s success, and many currently available networking apps are focused on connecting people while they are at an event. Replicating the networking experience is therefore critical to a successful virtual event. Companies that provide the apps or tools that connect people effectively in the absence of a live event will become indispensable partners.
  5. Companies needing a fresh perspective and/or are limiting in-house staff will outsource event and customer support services. Independent planners have the opportunity to refine and communicate their unique skills and experience to help their clients succeed in uncertain times.

As event professionals, these uncertain times may be our opportunity to lead change. I am excited to see the ways the events industry joins together to create progress, out of our necessity, for the benefit of our future.

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