If 2020 was the year of the virtual event, then 2021 is the year of the return of events happening in person. While we are excited to get back to business, it won’t be business as usual. Using what we’ve learned in 2020 will help shape how we think and plan our meetings moving forward - for the better. Corporate events especially have a social responsibility to make sure that their events happen with health and safety in mind. Here are the trends we expect to see happening at corporate events in 2021.
The Top 5 Corporate Event Trends for 2021
1. Emphasis on Health and Safety
Attendees who go to events will be looking at everything through a healthy and safety lens, so we can expect venues and planners to be focusing heavily on these elements. We can expect to see these trends emerge through food & beverage, technology, and physical space. With food & beverage, we will continue to see small, individualized portions, and an emphasis on foods that are a health and immunity booster. Technology will continue to encourage contactless encounters - like contactless check-in. In regards to meeting spaces, planners will be looking for larger spaces and ballrooms for fewer people to ensure enough distance between individuals.
2. Reimagined Meeting Spaces
Reimagining meeting space is another trend we can expect to see. Corporate planners who have typically opted for a classroom to theater-style seating are rethinking options to give attendees more space, such as pods or seating in small groups of 3 or 4 instead. We will also see how planners rethink the design of their meeting - using space and furniture to help navigate the flow of attendees and help maintain distance between people. Design is no longer just for aesthetics - it’s function too.
3. Virtual & Hybrid Events & Experiences
We are not saying goodbye to our virtual meetings anytime soon, 2021 is where we will refine our events and get the most out of our virtual platforms. Planners will shift their overall event spend and invest in more AV and production costs - so venues should prepare packages that emphasize their audiovisual and hybrid capabilities. Virtual experiences, such as cooking classes and tastings will remain popular with corporate clients, who are opting for more targeted events with smaller groups, focusing on experience-based interactions and networking.
4. Smaller, Regional Meetings
Most people will be heading to social events before business events, so local restaurants will see demand for in-person social gatherings, such as baby showers, weddings, and birthdays before their corporate clients return. It will take time for people to feel comfortable traveling again, and for companies to lift their restrictions on business travel, but a promising trend is seeing smaller meetings happening closer to home. Attendees will feel more comfortable traveling nearby by car than they will cross country by plane. Corporate planners will capitalize on this trend by hosting smaller, more personalized, and regionally curated events and meetings.
5. Sustainability Focus
Sustainability has long been a focus and priority of corporate events - after all, events produce a lot of waste. The focus will continue in 2021 - especially with the addition of a hybrid audience that has a lower carbon footprint than attendees traveling to attend an event in person. Corporate event planners will also continue to use technology like event apps, digital signage as ways to cut out paper waste. Menus that focus on meatless or vegan options will also be popular.
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