Glastonbury cancelled, James Bond release date moved, New Zealand hosting outdoors music festival for 20,000 people.
Without doubt it’s an uncertain time for anyone involved in events.
Which makes it really difficult to know when face-to-face events will resurface, but what we do know is that they will.
Until such time, virtual events will continue to fill the void.
Over the past year Ten Thousand Hours has produced and delivered a number of virtual events, varying in audience size, programme complexity, content format and duration.
We’ve seen a lot and we’ve learned a lot.
We’ve engaged with audiences and we’ve listened to clients.
And whilst we currently have beards (blame lockdown), we are not traditional soothsayers.
But we have spotted transformations in attendee behaviour that will shape future events.
So, we thought we would share them for you to consider whether you are planning virtual, hybrid or a return to face-to-face events.
Transformation #1: Audiences have got used to consuming content in a way that suits them.
Convenience and adaptability are two words that we hear a lot when talking to attendees at events.
Not everyone is able to attend an event at a set time. For some, the option to catch up when they have a spare moment is appealing.
For others, a drop in and drop out format works and then you have the ‘casual browsers’; intrigued but not committed.
An interesting balance of live and on-demand needs to be made.
What do you know about your audience viewing habits and how will you integrate insights gained into your event format?
Transformation #2: Audiences will value options to attend; but will want the same experience.
Stay at home, attend in person?
It used to be that the physical event was the primary way to attend, but that is no longer the case. Physical and virtual will co-exist in the future.
How are you helping your audience decide how they attend?
How will you avoid a ‘them and us’ situation if the experience differs?
How are you ensuring that no matter the format someone attends, it is still a single consistent experience for all?
Transformation #3: Content needs to enrich attendee lives.
There have never been more events available to attend and it has never been easier to attend, or gain access to content, from anywhere in the world.
It’s a bit of a scramble out there to gain audience attention.
But as a marketer or event planner, what are you doing to ensure your event is unforgettable?
It’s time for events to be brave with their content.
Consider broader agendas; audiences will gravitate towards content that challenges and differentiates, is radical and surprising; content that offers real value to the attendee.
Transformation #4: You let people into your homes, you can’t shut the door now.
We’ve all seen the carefully aligned books on the bookshelf.
We’ve all experienced the dog appearing from nowhere mid-session.
And we’ve all appeared on screen more relaxed in our attire and attitude.
Everyone has been more open and accessible than they would have imagined twelve months ago.
And the good news is that audiences appreciate it.
They appreciate a more human connection. Barriers have relaxed.
And this in turn has created authenticity, something brands have been trying to create for decades!
So, it needs to continue.
Future event design should be personal, genuine, approachable and inclusive.
Transformation #5: Breathe…
We’ve already mentioned the need for engaging, thought provoking content.
Content that is unforgettable and builds a loyalty towards your brand or business.
Content that gets people thinking.
And it’s the thinking that we mustn’t forget.
Every programme needs to allow for the moments people need to absorb what they have just experienced.
The time to reflect on what they have discovered.
And the opportunity to engage with others to discuss and share their thoughts.
So, there you have it, Innovation, Inclusivity, Originality, Authenticity and Space.
Five areas to consider when you start to plan you next event, whether online, face to face or hybrid.
We hope these help you when you dive into your event strategy and planning.
At Ten Thousand Hours we specialise in designing events and experiences that act in such a way that people remember them. If you would like to know more about how we can add value to your strategy or event plans, we’d love to hear from you, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.