Are we facing the swan song of traditional events? Is this unwelcome guest going to leave its mark on an entire industry? Well, the answer is yes and… no
Over the last decade, technology has evolved to the point we rarely need to leave the house: shopping, banking, working, staying in touch, and even taking part in full college courses; all these are just a few clicks away. All this was supposed to make everything easier, free up our time, and lead to a generally happier life. And it did… to some extent.
These advances applied to the events industry too. Videoconferencing, AR, and VR technology were harnessed to ease the transition from in-person meetings to virtual ones. The industry was buzzing, thrilled by the massive potential for low-cost, low-hassle events. If we could have meetings in our PJs, we’d put up with pretty much anything, right?
The global pandemic has forced remote working technology to step up. Platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams aren’t just occasional solutions anymore – they’re the only solutions for life on lockdown. We’re suddenly all using them all the time, just like we’d always wanted. The only problem is, we hate it.
We don’t hate remote events because the technology is lacking, or because the meetings aren’t productive. We hate them because, as the spice girls (remember them?) once said: “I need somebody with a human touch.”
Humans are social creatures. We need that face-to-face interaction, those shared jokes, talks about nothing, and even something as simple as a pat on the back or high-five. By comparison, online events feel forced, alienating, and awkward. The fun factor – better known as the human factor – is nowhere to be found.
In this context, it’s interesting to see that a recent NFX survey showed that 20.6% of pre-series A startups and 13.5% of post-series A startups are considering switching to long-term remote work.
What would the impact be if a significant number of businesses switched to working remotely? Would that mean an equivalent switch to online and virtual events? Do we hear the death knell for traditional events, as many people are predicting?
In my opinion, we should draw precisely the opposite conclusion. Breathe freely, vendors, and suppliers! The pandemic gave online events their time to shine… And we’re still collectively longing to get together in person. I predict a significant increase in corporate events as we make up for months of isolation. They might not be as extravagant, the event budgets might not be as high, but we’ll get to see each other without a cold screen between us.