For the past 12 months, the corporate events industry has continued to adjust and pivot… and then pivot again. From transitioning to completely virtual formats to then rapidly adapting to hybrid alternatives, the entire industry was making changes “on the fly,” and in some cases what seemed like a week-to-week basis. 

But with the start of the new year, it seems as though both guests and event professionals have finally started to find their footing. 

Here’s how we can anticipate the return of in-person events in 2021. 

How Virtual Events Have Helped Bridge the “Engagement Gap”

As the world seemed to come to a halt in the early stages of the pandemic, companies began to take the virtual events industry by storm. And although virtual events are wonderful placeholders for otherwise in-person events, they often fall short of offering the same experience as hosting guests live. However, they have played a critical role in maintaining relationships with customers and fans during the pandemic. 

A number of companies and organizations made the difficult decision to cancel events all together, at least until their guests could reconvene safely at some point in the future. One of the most notable was South by Southwest (SXSW), which completely canceled 2020 festivities and is planning for completely online festivities in 2021. Other businesses, including tech giant Microsoft, rescheduled its SharePoint Fest D.C. for September 2021. 

What In-Person Events Will Look Like in 2021

The future of organizing in-person events will likely be even more hands-on and involved than before. We can expect to see safety committees working alongside event planners in order to ensure that health protocols are well established and maintained. This may include taking temperatures at the door, creating one-way entrances and exits, and designing well thought out venue spaces to help mitigate crowds. For guests who prefer attending from home, virtual engagement will continue to be an option. 

How In-Person Events Will Be Changed Forever  

When the world simultaneously experiences a year as transformative as 2020, it only makes sense that the impact experienced by the corporate world will linger. 

Attendees who have grown accustomed to the flexibility of attending virtually—along with the progression of nimble and agile online experiences—will put additional pressure on companies to produce world-class events that go beyond the typical in-person events that were the norm prior to 2020. 

What do you think the future has in store for the in-person events industry? Tell us in the comments.