With cancellations of tradeshows, conferences and entire concert tours, the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector has suffered tremendously across the region. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel as countries across the region look to reignite business travel. COVID-19 does not mean the end of live events, but event planners will need to reconsider how events are produced to balance the health and safety of participants. These three emerging trends in the MICE sector are poised to take off in a post-COVID world.
For most of 2020, everything from bridal showers to stakeholder meetings has taken place virtually. Event professionals have adapted by offering live streams of video presentations to participants after events, which they can share to expand brand visibility.
However, hybrid events are not completely uncharted territory.
For instance, tickets to the world-famous Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival have been in high demand and short supply for the millions who wish to attend. In 2019, the festival added a live streaming element to reach the masses through their YouTube channel. Since then, interest in hybrid events has accelerated and event companies have needed to familiarise themselves with new virtual tools quickly.
In late October, in-person events in Singapore resumed with the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW). Up to 250 people were allowed to attend in person along with online participation. While events such as these have resumed as a pilot under strict guidelines from the government, event organisers have been encouraged to plan events that reintroduce in-person attendees.
It seems likely that massive festivities and social gatherings will not resume until 2021. Organisations can opt to continue hosting completely virtual gatherings or choose to scale down in-person events. As the local event industry rebuilds, smaller events will be important to ensure those safe distancing guidelines are followed. Event organisers are expected to implement robust pre and post-infection control measures, which will require additional manpower and resources. This might be challenging for smaller event companies with limited resources.
People do not attend conferences just to listen to presentations on topics. They want to interact with industry experts and network with other attendees. Smaller events encourage higher engagement from attendees and can offer more customised content.
A more intimate approach to meetings enables networking opportunities and audience engagement. Organisers can also create a more personalised event experience for attendees.
Although lockdown measures were disastrous for economies, there were some temporary positive effects on the environment. For event organisers, and really any industry, this could be the time to consider whether to go back to the way business was conducted before or use the pandemic as a tipping point for prioritising sustainability.
Sustainability has been a growing trend in the events industry over the last few years that has grown in importance for both organisers and attendees. It is not just about implementing virtual aspects to reduce the impact of air travel. It is about choosing partners that strive to infuse sustainable practices into each element of an event.
Everyone is keen to envision the new normal after COVID-19. When it comes to live events, the new normal has been developing for some time. The pandemic simply served as a catalyst for these trends to become mainstream.