Our Top 7 Event Trends in 2021

When it comes to events, this year will continue to evolve. As much as we strive for “normality,” our industry is changing. Here are the top 7 event trends of 2021 that we at Heroic expect to see.

Audience Safety

Safety first, always. Companies will be looking out for their audience and staff’s best interest when it comes to keeping them safe. Whether that means hosting something in-person or virtually, safety precautions will be, and should be, their number one priority.

If there is an in-person component, you can expect to see extensive safety processes leading up to and during the event. Temperature taking stations and kiosks, sanitizer stations and mask mandates are just a few of the many protocols that may be implemented. You may also see safety protocols like this within broadcast studios or sound stages, for virtual events.

High-Quality Virtual Events

This should be a surprise to no one: virtual events are here to stay. Though live and hybrid events are on the horizon, completely virtual events offer us a way to keep attendees safe while delivering important content.

Since virtual events aren’t going anywhere, the expectation for quality will certainly be different this year. Throughout 2020, people were a little more lenient with amateur streaming and virtual productions. Audiences were quick to forgive if the keynote speaker froze on screen, or the link to a breakout room was broken. But in 2021, people’s patience for technical glitches will wear thin, and their standards for an exceptional and engaging digital experience will be set high.

TV Broadcast-Type Events

TV broadcast-type events will debunk the myth that engaging virtual events require the audience to have their microphone and camera on. Ask yourself, why is it so easy for you to binge-watch Netflix (when you definitely don’t have a mic and cam on), but you can’t stay focused for more than 7 minutes during a Zoom conference? The same concept of TV engagement should, and will, apply to virtual events. Quality production and strong entertainment value play a key role in these type of events.

With this trend, you may also see more collaboration between event planners and production professionals who understand that the creation of successful virtual events is much like creating captivating television. This means fewer live feeds, and more professional pre-recording done in a broadcast studio or event venue. It also means more opportunity for creative video content with high entertainment value.

Engaging Speakers & Entertainment 

Good talent will be in higher demand in 2021. Whether on the screen or on the stage, interesting, relevant speakers and memorable exciting entertainment are back. Why the increase in demand?

  1. They create a higher level of anticipation and engagement.

Why not give your people something to look forward to? Challenge their thinking and get them talking about what’s important to your organization. A little outside perspective from a carefully chosen speaker, who aligns with your goals, can be a very powerful thing. And surprising your audience with something unexpected can be not only engaging, but much appreciated.

  1. They encourage a little bit of FUN.

Let’s face it, we could all use a little more fun! Ask yourself; “what’s it worth to watch your people having fun with each other (especially during such a difficult time)?” Positive emotional, shared experiences go a long way to keeping up morale.

  1. They Instill a bit of hope.

Perhaps it’s just that we’ve all been so cooped up, or that we miss being together at work, or at company events. Adding back key elements of an in-person event, can be a gesture of gratitude for hard work done during a difficult time, and a nod to the hope for better times.

Hybrid Events & Micro-Experiences

You’ll hear the word “hybrid” tossed around a lot this year. In short, a hybrid event means there will be in-person and virtual components. But the complexity of hybrid events will vary.

One specific type of hybrid event you can expect to see are Micro-Experiences. These are small, physical experiences that provide just enough interaction to keep an attendee engaged with the overall event, but not to the scale of an actual in-person event.

A great example of a micro-experience would be localized viewing parties for a national keynote speaker during a company conference. Instead of everyone traveling to one location, OR everyone viewing on their screens at home, micro-experiences would allow a compromise to achieve the best of both worlds. It wouldn’t require long distance traveling, but still provide an opportunity to have a small and memorable in-person interaction with others.

More Collaboration & Vendor Partnerships

After last year, our industry has had some eye-opening epiphanies, including the fact that we’re not all experts in everything. What used to be a competitive market is now becoming a market of creativity and collaboration.

Vendors and suppliers are finding new ways to bring on partners and support one another, instead of scrambling to do everything in-house. AV production companies may find themselves collaborating with web/app developers. Staging companies may find themselves collaborating with venues. Whatever the collaboration may be, the sense of community will only grow stronger.

Bigger Budgets for Event Tech

Tying back to all of the other trends for the year, big budgets for event tech are a part of what will make them possible. Companies are recognizing the importance of connectivity and attendee experience, especially when it comes to virtual events.

As you may have learned throughout 2020, producing a virtual event isn’t necessarily cheaper than an in-person event. There are a number of new elements to factor in – event apps, engagement tools, breakout/networking software, streaming platforms. The list is still growing. Well-produced, virtual or hybrid events have proven to be important and impactful, which is why companies will continue to invest.

Though these trends may look different than they have in years past, they represent the hope our industry has to continue making an impact. The evolution of events will certainly continue to change, but their purpose and importance will remain the same.