For the events industry, it goes without saying 2020 has been one of the toughest years for delivery and at the time of writing this it continues. We saw a complete market disruption through the disappearance of in person events with the only route to survival via smart technology.
We have witnessed more technological advancements in the last 6 months than we had seen in the last decade pushing industries over the technology tipping point and transforming businesses forever. For survival, companies at all levels needed to reinvent themselves to the ‘stay at home, socially distanced’ new world.
It’s a much needed push for the major event and mass participation industry that had so far avoided the full force of digitisation. In truth, the industry had lagged behind on innovation and creativity in the realms of smart technology and for many valid reasons including cost, scalability and access to expertise to name a few.
As the pandemic has taken hold, to stay in existence the industry has been forced to fully embrace smart technology and via digital tools leverage the massive advances in data generation, computing power and connectivity.
We saw the rise of the virtual event in its many formats; the first 100% digital bike show, founded by Jens Voight; and the inaugural UCI Cycling Esports World Champs hosted by Zwift, the men’s competition won by a rower and not a pro cyclist! The virtual London Marathon, which was a sell out, allowed 43,000 participants the opportunity to do it their way from their own front door within a period of 24hours.
We have seen many benefits of the use and adoption of technology by the sports events industry, however, in person social interaction is in our DNA. Although technology has kept us all ‘connected’ in the virtual world it is fast becoming the dangling carrot with our craving for face to face social interaction becoming insatiable and driving our desire for leisure time to get outdoors more.
There has been a significant amount of research and insights into the impacts of how our behaviour changed and we adapted to cope with the wave of lockdowns and restrictions in 2020 and the challenges that brings.
Insights and Emerging Trends
Below we share some of the learnings from 2020 and give our insight into how they will play out into emerging trends and themes for 2021.
– When was the last time you did something for the first time? 2021 will see more people take up new challenges to help them stay motivated. Curiosity is the key to learning. Recognise and seize the pleasures novel experiences offer us. #staycurious
– In a world where you can be anything, be kind! Kindness is the new KPI with mass-mattering taking over mass marketing. It’s all about the why, purpose and values. #bekind
– Social interaction is in our DNA. Technology has kept us all connected in the virtual world but our craving for in-person social interaction has become insatiable. Values based and purpose driven experiences that place genuine connection and the local community front and centre will prevail. Connecting with others has a huge impact on our wellbeing – physically, emotionally, and economically. #powerofconnection
– Self care is no longer seen as a luxury but a necessity. Health and well-being matters. The underlying urge to get and stay active will be underpinned by our new found awareness of the importance of self care in our day to day lives and the realisation of its neglect and how far down our ‘to do lists’ it was pushed.
The events industry is not out of the woods yet but there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel and opportunities still to be grasped if you know where to look.
Some tips to go from surviving to thriving
What can you review?
- Critically review how relevant your event still is and get back under its skin. What are you giving people that they are/have been missing out on in their lives? What experiences will they be seeking out on an emotional, physical and social level? What will help them to not only change their minds but also their behaviour in order to create and sustain change?
- What are the values of your business and how relevant are they likely to be as we emerge from the pandemic? Are you demonstrating your purpose and values with your target audience? Authenticity is key.
- Do you have a clearly defined purpose for your event? Does that purpose fit with your target audience and what they want in a post-pandemic world?
- Consider the impact the pandemic has and is having on individual lives, people are lonely and miss ‘their’ communities. How can events play a role in encouraging people to seek out opportunities to rebuild confidence and re-establish communities and build back better?
What are the strategic considerations?
- Adjust your business goals to thrive as we emerge from the pandemic. Take a look around at what is happening in the events industry, what are other companies doing to successfully maintain engagement and revenue?
- Partner up in the right ecosystems. Create innovative partnerships that serve to sustain a successful response to the market disruption and new emerging trends and themes. Collaboration stands you in a better position to thrive.
- Do some searching within your industry and find out who has been doing well. I.e. Cycling Industry sales have soared, business for bike shops, manufacturers & brands is booming. They will be craving the return of in-person events but will be in pursuit of innovative ones that are forward thinking and keep up with the advances in smart tech.
We are not going back to the same world we came from pre-Covid, neither will our events. So let’s work together and really explore how we can build something better for the future of our industry.