5 Event industry trends for 2021

Posted by Courtney Hodgson on Jul 06, 2021

Where the Event Industry is Today

The event industry has had to adapt and innovate due to the effects of the Coronavirus. There has recently been a shift towards hybrid events now that restrictions are slowly easing. Although the vaccination scheme is going very well in England, the date for easing the few remaining restrictions has been pushed back. So, what does this mean for the future of the event industry? Will hybrid events become the new normal or will we all return to in-person events this year?

Hybrid Events

Event creators are turning to hybrid events because it allows them to have a larger audience whilst keeping to social distancing guidelines. Those that feel comfortable meeting in person are able to go out again, but for those who find it more convenient to attend virtually can do so too. Hybrid events can also be a way of making a larger profit because you can charge the face-to-face attendees more and you will only have to cater for a small crowd. It is also important to have a plan in place for cancellations, you might want to consider allowing attendees to use their deposits to attend at a later date. Another advantage of hybrid events is that the attendee doesn't have to travel which opens the event up to a wider audience. The reduction in travel also means a reduction in the environmental impact of an event. Event goers are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental effects created by themselves and their fellow attendees. 

Remember to keep both your virtual and physical attendees engaged throughout the whole event. Some aspects will not work for both groups, so you have to think of new ways to engage your audience. Produce live polls and a Q&A section. The more they participate the more engaged they will be. Hybrid events increase your sponsorship value by reaching both types of audience. 

Hybrid event


Technology and Personalisation

Improvements in technology has been vital for virtual events and has allowed event producers to be more creative by incorporating gamified Apps and other interactive elements. Having the correct equipment for your event will make sure it runs as smoothly as possible. So, make sure you have a good internet connection, you are familiar with any online platforms you are using and have tested your equipment. Consider adding value by giving your attendees a free e-book or access to more content. Smaller events allow you to really connect to your audience and it is easier to get them involved. Ask questions and tailor your content to them to make it more personal and relevant. There are many platforms for virtual events out there with different interactive options, such as sitting at small virtual tables and having a group chat option. Some companies send out gift boxes to attendees' homes to make the event more special and memorable. Event creators will continue to use innovative technology to provide a personal experience. Remember to record your events for those that can't make it and make sure the experience is equally great for both in-person and virtual attendees.     

Seating Plans for Events

Seating layouts are a vital part of in-person events especially when following social distancing guidelines. You need to be able to optimise the space you have and allow visitors to pre-book their space. This will also help your guests feel safe and relaxed. Make use of technology and check people in via a tablet or smartphone, no need for paper tickets. Maximise all marketing opportunities with branded masks for employees and hand sanitiser in branded bottles for attendees. Ensure you have plenty of signage and a one-way system in place. Does your current ticketing provider include the ability to add a seating plan to your ticketing website? Here at Merlin, we can incorporate your seating plan for you so that customers can purchase tickets and select an appropriate seat.    

Interactive polls and Q&A



During the first lockdown we became acutely aware of the impact we are having on the environment and the event industry is no different. Attendees will be looking for sustainability initiatives and companies that are reducing their impact on the environment. It isn't merely enough to show awareness you must make a change. Think about how to promote reusing and recycling at your event and cut down on disposable displays and gifts. 

Marketing and Monitoring of Events

You might have to adapt your marketing style and techniques to appeal to in-person, virtual and hybrid event goers. Someone who only attends virtual events might not use the same social media platforms or respond to marketing content in the same way as someone who prefers in-person events or a mix of the two. Think about how you can engage each audience and make sure to monitor your marketing efforts. Using software such as Merlin 8 you can sell tickets and merchandise, view attendee details and manage stock control all in one place. A marketing activity worth considering is challenges, get your followers involved, allow them to create content you can use and ultimately promote your brand. Challenges are much more interactive than a free gift. Make use of analytic tools and gather feedback at any given opportunity. If you are following the hybrid event trend, this will help you to assess which marketing techniques worked best and whether your virtual attendees had a similar experience to those who attended in person.   

Conclusion: 5 Event Industry Trends 2021

  • Hybrid events are set to become the new normal. They do come with challenges, such as the ability to keep both in-person and virtual attendees engaged throughout.
  • Innovative technology allows event creators to create more personalised experiences.
  • Utilising space and creating seating layouts is necessary for events following social distancing guidelines.
  • Sustainability initiatives are key for the event industry as guests are becoming more aware of negative impacts on the environment caused by disposable products.
  •  Monitor analytics and gain feedback from your attendees. Virtual, hybrid and in-person events require different marketing styles.

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