As event organizers, we all are hurting. The past eleven months have closed the door on our ability to run the thousands of events we previously managed. We’ve looked for help everywhere: COVID-19 safety standards, as well as the guidance and regulations of national, state, and local government entities regarding the reopening of hotels and convention centers. But the targets continue to move, and the venues continue to either remain closed or operate at significantly reduced capacities.
Before the pandemic, we heard countless claims as to how the implementation of new technology would help fix industry problems, thus creating both new revenue streams and event organizer happiness. And some technology did have that impact.
But it’s now a demonstrably different world, with few face-to-face events upon which to work. Other than the souped-up virtual platforms that admittedly are more functional than in the past, what has event technology done for us? Most of the software and tools are unusable if events aren’t happening. The technology companies have had eleven months to help us leverage assets that are not tied to face-to-face events. Have we received the assistance that was needed? Have event technology companies let us down?
Not so fast, according to several tech experts with whom I recently spoke. The technology that focuses on audience analytics and community creation & building – as well as the tech that’s associated with virtual event resources – is already there. And it’s been there for a while. But since most event organizers were making money hand over fist, they haven’t looked at it. There was no pressing need in the past, but now there certainly is.
As I have written numerous times, the key to success with an event is attracting the right audience (of sufficient size) and delivering the right content to that audience to satisfy their needs and get them to return. When a physical event is not allowed or possible, we’ve been forced (often unwillingly) to do virtual events. Virtual events are, in many cases, merely a placeholder until face-to-face events returned. In other cases, it’s a permanent new line of business. That’s likely a good strategy especially if returning face-to-face events are smaller in both physical size and number of attendees/visitors until far into the future. It may well be that some face to face events will not be profitable to produce, even if you are able to run them. Virtual events alone are not enough, either now, or into the foreseeable future, for us all to make a living.
To the event technology companies, it’s again time to bring out the tools that can help event organizers beyond virtual that can assist event organizers beyond face to face events. We are on the edge of a disruptive curve that, while perhaps temporary, can nevertheless generate lots of potential revenue for those who can capitalize on the opportunity.
For fellow event organizers, we need to think more expansively than just hoping and waiting for COVID-19 to recede. Among other ideas, now is the time to serve current and build new communities and do it in new creative ways that previously you didn’t think possible.
Who knows – perhaps undergoing this effort may uncover other opportunities you did realize existed.