As 2021 kicks off, there is hope in the air. The COVID vaccine is being distributed and many are hoping that throughout the year we will be able to start returning to doing things we did pre-pandemic. For some, this includes hosting and going to in-person conferences and events.
We’ve already received many questions from clients and prospects about what 2021 is going to look like, but the truth is, we don’t know. No one really knows! So here are the best tips we can give you.
No matter what happens in the next 3, 6 or 12 months, after a year of virtual events and conferences, a virtual component will now be expected. With ongoing travel bans and varying comfort levels, even if you can have an in-person event, there will be plenty of people who may have attended in the past who cannot or will not go right now. And not to mention the considerations that will need to be made from a planning perspective regarding diminished room capacity restrictions that will limit the size of the in-person audience.
At least for a while. Think about all the safety precautions in your day-to-day life right now. Plexiglass partitions, outdoor only dining and services, masks, staying six feet apart, etc. With all these precautions in place, an in-person event will not be able to have rooms packed with people, lunch buffets, or standard networking events. All of this may make people who are able and feel comfortable traveling still not want to attend your in-person event in 2021 or limit your maximum capacity of attendees.
Going virtual in 2020 hopefully allowed you to expand your reach to people who may not have attended your in-person conference regardless if there was a pandemic. You do not want to lose these new learners by no longer offering a virtual component.
Going along with expanding your reach, having a 100% virtual event allows for you to be more flexible. For example, a standard in-person event may be three, four, even five full days. A virtual event could be a series of shorter days or sessions over an entire month or quarter, and in turn expanding your potential touch points and value to your learners.
If you plan to stay 100% virtual in 2021 there is no need to worry about changing restrictions, shutdowns or travel bans affecting your conference. If you are planning to at least have a virtual component, you are in a good place for transitioning to a 100% virtual if necessary.
Sure, things will not be the way they are today, forever, but people have made changes. While in-person conferences, weddings, dinner parties and travel will return, people have also embraced virtual events, delivery services, not commuting and spending more time at home. Some of these people will not feel the need to travel to conferences again, and some of their companies will not feel the need to pay for them to travel to conferences when they can get the same education from the comfort of their own home or office.
So, whatever you decide about having in-person events this year, we strongly encourage you to consider virtual options, even if it is just a portion of the event and education you are planning.