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New Event Formats: The Change Is Real

The world changes. Countries change. People change. And events change, too.

Over the last years you could already feel a softening of traditional structures in conferences and meetings. Our culture of gatherings has made a switch from autocratic resemblances to democratic experiences.

One-to-many formats have been extended by concepts such as barcamps, unconferences, and new event formats like “World Café”, "Storytelling", and "Birds of a Feather". They have already changed the way we experience the transfer of knowledge and the way we interact with people in general. Events have become more open, more diverse, more digitized and they reflect the trends we see in all other aspects of our lives.

New Event Formats Are Coming Along with Changes in the Event Industry

New event concepts and event formats are closely connected to the restructuring of organizations. They require an innovative way of thinking among event professionals. We can already see that event managers become videographers and podcasters as they dive into the world of content marketing and digital strategy.

This may come along with the following changes in the event industry.

Regional Events

We will see more local events that will be interlinked with other local events to replace mega conferences and large congresses. This will let conglomerates of mid-size conference centers compete with the mega-centers for the really big conferences in the future. Delocalized events and glocalized congress formats will become a new standard. The trend will move towards streaming keynotes and providing virtual event experiences in addition to regional in-person events and globalized networking concepts.

Global Partnerships

As travel restrictions keep being enforced, we will see more venues and event organizers working hand in hand to deliver events in different parts of the world at the same time or within a given time range. This collaboration will boost onsite participation from local attendees and ensure a memorable experience to each participant.

Hybrid Events

Hybrid Events are not a temporary trend, but here to stay. While it is becoming quite normal to attend a number of virtual events throughout the year via your notebook or phone, a smaller number of in person events will most likely be visited by a single person.

Let’s say you were a team of 5 individuals to visit 5 big events each year; in the future you will probably send to each event only 2 people while the other 3 will participate in the virtual event.

While we will see ourselves attend less face-to-face events, the overall number of events we will participate in will increase as hybrid events bring the experience to us.

As a result, each onsite event will try to boost its prestige. This can be done by even more and better educational parts with great content – but these, of course, can also be experienced virtually – and also by high-class networking events with an exclusive VIP feeling to them.

Hybrid concepts will change the way we attend events. The number of attendees to face-to-face events will decrease but the overall number of participants will increase as the virtual part of the event becomes more accessible and affordable.

Networking Experiences

Networking quality at in-person events will be perceived differently. Physically attended events will strive for higher quality networking opportunities: better parties, better food, more prestige. What happens to an event when you put a higher emphasis on the networking aspects? You might end up having to think about how you can maintain the high quality of the content offered.

One simple way of doing this is to disperse the educational sessions throughout the year or during a certain time span leading up to the conference or exhibition. Or maybe a big exhibition becomes a travelling roadshow and moves around the globe. In both cases events will become on-going events throughout the year, which then culminate in a high-quality networking experience at the live, in person event.

Pricing Models

These new event formats will be hard to monetize by traditional standards which leads us to the next point and prediction: Subscriptions for event series will become more relevant. The good thing is, they won’t face the same issues that web subscriptions for traditional print formats have faced. When you can touch it, when you can experience it with all your senses, then it must be worth your money!

Regardless of whether your focus is on regional events, hybrid events, or any other event type - you'd better prepare for change. Expected change and unexpected change.