There’s no doubt about it, the global pandemic has changed the way we think of events. For both consumers and live event hosts, a couple of years defined by restrictions have reshaped priorities, needs and even values. Now, we must build live events for a different audience to the one that existed back in 2019.
Live events are back in the top spot
Virtual events have boomed since the outbreak of Covid-19. Over the past two years, they've served an important purpose, bridging physical divides to bring people together. They enabled brands and businesses to connect with a greater share of their audience, often at a lower cost, and allowed communities to thrive in difficult circumstances. For all those reasons and more, the most creative offerings will remain an important part of many brands event calendars, but there is evidence to suggest people are growing tired of a ‘virtual first’ approach.
A recent survey of 1,700 employees by remote work consultancy Virtira found that almost half of us are reporting exhaustion due to virtual meetings. Paired with the fact that consumers are now buying event tickets at a rate we haven’t seen since before the pandemic, it’s pretty clear that most want to see a return to live experiences.
Event organisers are responding to that desire too. New research from LinkedIn shows that, though virtual events will continue, an impressive 78% of marketers want to see in-person events return to their primary role. This, perhaps, is influenced by the different roles of virtual and live events in the sales funnel. Where virtual can target wider audiences and makes few demands on those audiences – ideal for awareness and discovery stages – live events are key for those closer to conversion. So while virtual continues, and growing investment in virtual event tech improves engagement, live and hybrid are coming back into focus in a big way.
Audiences are done with the impersonal
Since 2020, the way we consume content and engage with the brands around us has changed as a matter of necessity. As engagement moved firmly into virtual spaces, most consumers grew used to the type of personalisation and community-building that comes easily online and as a result, values have begun to shift. Live experiences are growing in value as consumers crave in-person interaction, but they also expect a continuation of the creativity and community fostered in virtual spaces. That shift will be long-lasting and is now having a significant impact on the world of live events.
Appetite for a roster of regular, predictable live events is in decline as consumers desire more creative, immersive experiences that will show them something new and provide real, tangible value. Personality is growing in value too as brand experiences must now build community through culture to make lasting impact. Diverse stories, ideas and ultimately participation are key to both creativity and community and all are requirements of successful brand experiences in our post-Covid world. Post-pandemic dynamics require live events to return in new ways – purpose, personalisation and innovation are now the keys to success.
What do we need? Creativity and community
Though many have spent two years physically distanced from their communities, passion for creating and expanding these distinct groups of enthusiastic brand advocates is only growing. According to recent research, nearly three out of four brands feel closer to their audience than before the pandemic and up to 50% are planning to integrate community-building events into their regular calendar in coming years. We know that genuine community-building has business value and it’s clearly become more important to consumers too.
Here at DRPG, we try to inject social value into every event we run and that’s never been more clear than in our recent work as the Official Promotional Event Services Provider for the historic Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. A moment of celebration for an incredible range of people, the Games shine a light on one of our own communities, the West Midlands, and we’re eager to put that at the centre of everything we do.
In our role as an official provider, we’re celebrating the diversity of both local and global communities and we’re using our endless in-house creativity to just that. Events in 2022 demand innovation. To make an impact on audiences who are just returning to live events, we need to offer something new at every turn and create experiences that have both personal and social value to the people we welcome through the doors.
Lasting impact – on our culture, communities, individuals and more – is now a must in every successful event, and creativity delivers it.
We build creativity into everything we do here at DRPG. If you want your next event to be packed full of fresh ideas, get in touch with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org and together, we’ll create an experience that’s truly unforgettable.