The future of events

Fiona McBride By Fiona McBride

A Cynergy perspective

The well-known proverb, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ couldn’t be truer right now. The events industry (along with many others) came to a standstill in March 2020 after it became unsafe to bring together large groups of people in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’ve been asked on several occasions over the last few months what I think the future of events will be. Now, I am certainly no expert, but my instinct tells me that in the healthcare sector at least, it’s going to take some time for face-to-face events to return. Where we might see the corporate sector get up and running sooner, the risk of bringing together large numbers of healthcare professionals and key workers into one space seems too high right now.

Over recent years, there has been a noticeable pattern in declining attendance numbers and dropout rates at events due to the ever-increasing demand and pressures on staff making it difficult for them to get the release time to leave their place of work. With all but essential healthcare being paused during the pandemic, it is hard to see this changing anytime soon. It is anticipated that it could take the NHS several years to return to ‘normal’ levels of activity e.g., treating 92% of patients within 18 weeks.

It is therefore my belief that the nature and format of events will need to change – our working habits and behaviours have adapted so much over this last year, that I feel that live events will have to become experiential and truly collaborative experiences going forward with real tangible purpose, to warrant the time and travel to attend by many.

Even if staff are able to get the release time, it’s now likely to be an even harder sell to attract people away from their place of work to attend something that they can engage with online. We’ve proved how effective online learning and conferences can be, and with new products and tools to support this practice being released at such pace, face to face events will need to offer something that online now can’t.

Do I think this is possible? Absolutely. During this pandemic, Cynergy have learned a lot, grown a lot, adapted A LOT. The only thing that has remained consistent is our drive to keep making the momentum for change and so whilst I think virtual events have a place and are here to stay, I also think that live events will return, both as hybrid (live and virtual attendance at the same time) and stand-alone. I do however think that live events will need to level up and adapt as we go forward, and I believe this will be achieved by offering delegates unique experiences.

Experiential events

So, what is an experiential event? Put simply, it is an experience which is immersive. Rather than an event where delegates can be passive e.g., attend and observe (which can now be successfully delivered virtually), an experiential event will enable delegates to tangibly interact with your content, offer and agenda on many different levels. Museums are often excellent examples of how this can be achieved – they are masters of curating learning and engagement through creative, interactive and experiential experiences. Involving your audience and having personal interaction with them is going to be the future key to impactful and effective engagement in my opinion, which can’t truly be replicated online. We are therefore working on lots of new ideas to reinvigorate our live future events offer – watch this space!

So, what does this mean for Cynergy in the interim? Well, when face to face events do come back around, I will excitedly pack my suitcase with a smile on my face ready to wow delegates with exciting new approaches, and I swear, it also has nothing to do with the promise of a full, uninterrupted night sleep from my very lively toddler! Well, maybe a little…

Until then, however, in true Cynergy style, we will keep learning, adapting, and innovating our online offers, creating exciting and interactive interventions, supporting our clients, new and old, to create the momentum for change, until we can meet in person again.

If you think we can support with any of your virtual engagement challenges, I’m always happy to chat and explore, so feel free to drop me a line!

Let's talk

Cynergy offer strategic planning, design and production support to deliver engaging and impactful events, webinars and workshops. So whether you are planning or just considering going fully virtual or hybrid for your next event feel free to get in touch

Give us a call on 01642 713 211
We'd love to chat!