The global events industry has taken a severe beating since the COVID-19 pandemic emerged but there are glimmers of hope for the industry, predicted to be valued at $1,552.9 billion by 2028. Forward thinking brands continue to use events to connect with their customers, suppliers and partners, with technology advancements enabling innovation in the way that meetings, conferences, product launches and other experiences are delivered.
Elton Lee Hesketh, Managing Partner at The Event Production Company, headquartered in Dubai, with offices in South Africa and partners in Kenya, Ghana and Saudi Arabia, says: “We have seen exciting developments and even growth in events in some industries. The motor industry for instance has had to innovate in how they approach vehicle launches, virtual and hybrid ride experiences, and customer events, using solo drive experiences that leverage technology and GPS to make their events as immersive as possible, while giving their customers the opportunity to experience the product.”
Over the past 18 months, webinars, online expos, hybrid conferences and events, virtual trade shows, online training workshops, and podcasts have become the mainstay of brands’ event marketing but Elton says companies are starting to open up and test the limits on in-person events.
“There’s an exciting resurgence in the events space as vaccine programmes gain traction and travel restrictions start to ease. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), specifically Dubai and Saudi Arabia, the number and size of events are growing. This resurgence offers hope for brands and planners in countries where lockdowns and travel restrictions have only just started to ease.
“People value human interaction, and there is nothing like the level of collaboration and interaction that is achieved face-to-face. At least 80% of our active clients are shifting to hybrid events because they are keen to reintroduce in-person components to their events while still leveraging the benefits of scope and scale associated with virtual.”
Demonstrating the power of hybrid events in connecting audiences from diverse countries and time zones, and allowing them to feel part of a live event, The Event Production Company produced The ISS (Institute for Security Studies) Africa’s security partnership with China: looking to the future Hybrid Event, which hosted 320 registered guests from 22 countries over two days. It involved creating a custom branded studio and webinar platform with live Q&A interaction, onstage facilitators and 12 remote panelists participating live via the hybrid event studio to merge the experience for online and in-person guests.
“This scale and level of engagement may not have been achieved with a purely virtual or in-person model,” says Elton.
According to him, unexpected growth in certain industries such as virtual healthcare, e-learning, online retail, and pharmaceuticals could spark demand for events, specifically virtual and hybrid, as companies seek to grow their visibility; connect with clients, suppliers and partners, and build confidence in their brands.
“The way and rate at which we see brands returning to in-person events depends on the prevailing COVID restrictions where they operate, as well as their internal appetite for returning to physical events. Everyone has to remain flexible, open to change, and embrace technology to apply the most appropriate approach based on their local COVID and post COVID challenges.
“In this shifting landscape, brands that will truly stand out are those that are willing to be flexible; that are ready to experiment and place emphasis on evolving by learning from past errors; and those that can make their event translate by keeping their stakeholders at the core of their event design.”
With over 25 years experience producing world-class, memorable events, The Event Production Company has the skills and resources to produce a seamless experience that transcends the physical and virtual. We also build the digital infrastructure, including bespoke event platforms, apps and websites, to stage engaging hybrid events. Let’s get the creative juices flowing. Contact us!