2020 has been a year like no other for Newable Events.
When COVID-19 hit the UK in March and restrictions to travel as well as the gathering of people were first introduced by the Government, our events team had only two options – quickly adapt and find new ways to offer our clients access to valuable content and one-to-many support, or face an existential crisis and lose our ability to support the thousands of SMEs we have been supporting each year through our events programmes.
Like many teams facing the same challenge, we chose the first option, and in the last eight months have completely retooled to full online delivery.
During the pandemic, we not only completely redesigned our event offering and delivery method, but also shifted to sophisticated technology to effectively deliver our content online. We managed to run more events in the first three quarters of the current financial year than in the entire FY 2019/2020, including high-profile activities like the full-day virtual national conference. The conference was recently organised for the Innovate UK’s Business Growth Consortium, that was attended by 350+ delegates from across the UK and hailed as a success by the funders and all participants.
So, what does 2021 look like for the events industry? In truth, no one is really sure at this stage as we don’t know when COVID-19 and the related social distancing measures will finally be a reality of the past, although we hope to be able to return to some small, in-person events before the summer.
One thing, however, is clear: virtual events are here to stay, and, alongside traditional in-person events, will become fixtures in most event programmes.
Hybrid events in particular are likely to become a key event trend of 2021 when restrictions will be lifted, as virtual ones have been in 2020. Adding a virtual element to a traditional live event structure, hybrid events allow small groups to take part in face-to-face sessions, which are then shared with larger audiences using digital platforms. Attendees will be much more selective about where they go and what they want to do, and more likely to consume content online. Hybrid events combine the possibility to appeal to those who want to attend in a face-to-face capacity, as well as those who want to attend virtually, creating events with a broader reach, without compromising on health and safety, a topic that will long remain relevant even after the official end of the pandemic.
Event technology will also continue to evolve and, hopefully, help event organisers like us address the biggest challenge we will face in this new, complex event landscape – streamlining processes and being able to make a seamless transition between the various event types (in-person, virtual, hybrid) on a single platform instead of having to navigate across multiple systems.
2020 has challenged our team, and we have responded with courage, resilience and adaptability. We are now fully equipped to support even more SMEs through our new digital platforms and actively contribute to the achievement of the Newable vision in the new post-COVID landscape.