Planning & Promotion

The Current State of the Event Industry and the Future of Events

Eventually Learning Team

In March 2020, the whole world came to a standstill due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, we are more than one year down the road, with the pandemic lingering around with new variants of COVID-19 appearing in various parts of the world.

In 2020, the government started imposing guidelines to curb the spread of the virus. Rules like social distancing at all times and wearing masks were made compulsory. In addition to previous guidelines, new restrictions were imposed to stop the movement of the people. As a result, various sectors and industries suffered a huge blow. One of the highly affected was the events industry.

We are now in 2021, and the general scenario has improved. With mass vaccine roll-outs in most parts of the world, the aim is to vaccinate the population in order to go back to the state of the world that existed before the pandemic.

Be it B2B or B2C events, all event marketers are eager to organize hybrid and in-person events. However, to venture out into the event industry again, you need to understand the industry's current state and how it has changed after the pandemic. New event strategies and business models will embrace the market soon, and if you want to organize impactful events, you need to see the bigger picture.

Let's try to understand the different phases of the event industry and what it will be like in 2021.

1 The State of the Events Industry Pre-pandemic

History helps in shaping the present. We are trying to say that before planning events in 2021, you should try to look at previous trends before the pandemic came into the picture. By understanding the pre-pandemic event industry scenario, you can shape effective strategies for your events in 2021.

1.1 Commonly-Held Events before the Pandemic

First, we need to understand what type of events dominated the event industry in the pre-pandemic phase. The most common event types organized before the pandemic were seminars, exhibitions, corporate events, conferences, fundraisers, festivals, trade shows, product launches, music and art performances and sports events.

Before the pandemic, the primary stakeholders in the event industry were, predominately, corporate organizations, public organizations, and non-governmental organizations. These still dominate the event industry, but emerging new players in the market presented a wave of change after the pandemic in 2021.

1.2 Popular Event Trends before COVID-19 and Event Industry Statistics

Statistics show that the pre-pandemic events that were most popular were conferences, corporate events and workshops. According to the statistics by PurplePass, the most popular type of events were conferences, with almost 62% of event organizers planning and hosting them. The second most popular type of event in the pre-pandemic event industry was corporate events. Almost 61.2% of event organizers were planning and organizing them. These events became popular due to the rise in the number of corporate organizations around the globe. The frequency of events also increased with the increase in corporate organizations. The audience liked these events because the engagement with the speakers and the audience was optimum, and the audience felt that they gained valuable knowledge. The third most preferred event category was workshops, with almost 46.7% of event organizers planning and hosting them.

Now, let's look at some essential pre-pandemic event industry statistics:

  • In 2019, the events industry was estimated to be valued at US$1,135.4 billion.
  • By observing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.2% from 2021-2028, the events industry will reach a value of US$1,552.9 billion by 2028.
  • The fastest-growing event category was predicted to be the music concert event category, with a CAGR of 13.1%.

2 The Impact of the Pandemic on the Event Industry

We all know by now that the pandemic has reduced the percentage of growth in almost all sectors. Nonetheless, as the markets reopen, the economy is expected to stabilize with time.

It is important to comprehend the impact of the pandemic on the event industry before deciding to venture out into the event industry in 2021. According to a survey carried out by Meeting Professional International (MPI) and Event MB, COVID's impact on the event industry and their businesses are as follows:

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, around 96% of event organizers experienced canceling some of their pre-planned events.
  • Around 51% of event planners and 73% of suppliers expected the pandemic to have a negative impact on their revenue and businesses for the next 12 months.
  • Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, 21% of event professionals predicted a negative financial impact on their businesses in the next 24 months.
  • Around 15% of event planners and marketers felt that the imposed travel ban would affect their businesses.
  • Almost 40% of event professionals were worried about their job security due to the onset of the pandemic. It is important to recognize that many businesses and event marketers experienced cease of contracts and heavy revenue losses.

As frightening it may sound, the reality was that many organizers and businesses woke up to the cancelation of their pre-planned events due to the pandemic. As a result, many event businesses declared bankruptcy, and a significant number of them were also forced to lay off their staff members or to send them on leave without pay. Many event professionals also decided to leave their current field of jobs and venture out into different industries.

3 The New Way of Attending Events Post-pandemic

In March 2020, everyone was new to the pandemic. Thus, we needed time to comprehend the state we were in. As soon as we figured that out, people came up with brilliant solutions to cope with the pandemic. Luckily, due to the presence of various technological tools, we were able to adapt quite quickly.

Instead of closing down the entire event industry dependent on face-to-face interactions, many organizations decided to go virtual. It is safe to say that all of us have come across various virtual events, conferences, webinars, workshops, etc., in various industries. The virtual trend has saved the event business from going extinct, and event marketers can now maintain business relations and interactions with their clients and audiences virtually. According to Grand View Research, the virtual event market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 23.2% to reach US$404.5 billion by 2027.

4 The Latest Guidelines for Events in 2021

As Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines were approved for mass inoculation in America, subsequent other vaccines were also approved in other parts of the world. With most of the population getting vaccinated, there is hope that things might go back to normal soon despite the second wave of the pandemic.

It's good news that around 131 million Americans are fully vaccinated. Therefore, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released new and updated guidelines regarding COVID-19 safety protocols. Unless required by the state, tribal, federal, local, or business laws, fully vaccinated people can go out without masks in various indoor and outdoor settings. Some states like Maryland and Texas are reopening their economies fully without any capacity restrictions whatsoever, while some states are gradually lifting restrictions and easing the norms.

However, those who aren't fully vaccinated must wear face masks in indoor and some outdoor settings. The CDC has also directed the event planners to collaborate and cooperate with the local and state health authorities to organize safe, successful and hygienic events.

Currently, organizing in-person events is allowed in some states in America. The overall global event industry is expected to stabilize by 2023.

Frequently Asked Questions

1 What is the future of the event industry?

According to Grand View Research, the virtual event market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 23.2% to reach US$404.5 billion by 2027, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.2% from 2021-2028. As a result, the event industry is estimated to grow and reach US$1,552.9 billion by 2028.

Therefore, the future of the event industry is extremely positive.

2 How is the event industry tackling the impact of COVID-19?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 96% of event organizers experienced cancellation of their pre-planned events and around 40% of event professionals were worried about their job security. It can be concluded that the COVID-19 pandemic caused a negative impact on the event industry.

However, the industry has innovated, improvised, and pivoted to virtual events with time. Now, more than 73% of event planners have successfully transitioned to virtual events. Therefore, it is safe to say that the devastating impact of COVID-19 was dealt with effectively in 2021.

3 What are the emerging trends in the event industry?

There are multiple emerging trends in the event industry:

  • Hybrid events
  • Interactive mobile event apps
  • Use of AI in events
  • Live translation
  • Live streaming
  • Facial recognition
  • Enhancing attendee experience via event tech
  • Secured data collection

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