6 ways business events have changed post-COVID

| May 20, 2021

As business owners and corporate event planners, we are still clearly seeing the devastating consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. But as many countries around the world are easing restrictive measures and slowly opening back up again, we might view the future a bit more optimistically.

However, the question still remains: Will corporate events continue as usual once the pandemic is over? While no one knows for certain what will happen in a post-COVID world, there are some predictions on how the future of corporate events might change:

An emphasis on health and safety

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to prioritise health and overall safety, ensuring our office is pandemic-proof, maintaining social distancing guidelines, and following all necessary safety measures.

This new way of life has also impacted the way we hold events, as most hosts tend to choose venues and vendors who take safety and hygiene seriously, as well as event planners with previous hosting experience during the pandemic.

However, even the smaller aspects of event planning have changed during COVID-19. From face mask mandates and hand sanitisation stations to appropriately spaced tables and activities that avoid grouping and attendee interactions, health and safety are undoubtedly at the forefront, and might become the new normal.

A shift to digital platforms

During closures and lockdowns, businesses mostly decided to head off social media storms, and hold all of their events through online video platforms. While this might have been a great alternative during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, attendees have often reported that they miss human interactions and making face-to-face connections at events.

And even though virtual events will likely continue to be popular in the future, they won’t entirely replace live experiences. Instead, a hybrid form of event hosting has become an appealing solution, combining a live event with virtual attendees, thus easily providing an in-person experience, while ensuring a reduced number of guests physically gathered in one space.

Impactful and memorable content

For those that can safely host live events, unique, interesting, and enticing content has never been quite as important for attracting a sizable audience.

This is mostly due to the fact that attendees have had a wide variety of virtual event options during the pandemic, meaning that impactful content is necessary, not only for drawing people’s attention, but also for providing them with a better, more memorable experience than the virtual events they have previously attended.

To that end, most businesses have decided to focus on the overall design and decor of the event, as well as the usual event presentations and activities. For instance, many have opted for stunning light up letters that spell out the company’s or the product’s name, as one of the most impactful ways to make their event stand out and make a lasting impression on attendees.

Integration of contactless technologies

From touch-screen devices and applications to sensor beacons and facial recognition software, technology has truly transformed the way we host corporate events. However, going contactless is now more important than ever, as many attendees don’t wish to pick up lanyards from a bundle or unnecessarily touch other surfaces.

If you wish to embrace the future of post-pandemic events, you might also want to consider including facial recognition for identifying guests or aspects such as scannable QR codes for viewing schedules or downloading apps, as encouraging attendees to download a specialised application for your business can be a great way to incorporate branding into your event.

Different catering options

Serving the food and drinks safely was another issue event planners had to deal with during the pandemic. While options such as buffets and shared condiments were out of the question, and will likely continue to be avoided in the future, there was still the question of delivering good food in a safe manner.

The best solution to this issue is to only offer pre-made food that is ready to go on the event menus, served on disposable plates that are hopefully environmentally friendly. That way, a minimal amount of staff is needed to serve event attendees, while still being able to quickly and safely deliver delicious meals to the guests.

New forms of social activities

Although socialising and networking are both incredibly important aspects when it comes to corporate events, they are also major drawbacks during global pandemics. They increase the chances of larger crowds, handshaking, and closer face-to-face conversations that are not advised at the moment, meaning it would be quite dangerous to attempt such activities anytime soon.

But with the right guidance, organisers might still be able to include safe social activities in their events. For example, they could promote single-person presentations and discourage microphone sharing among attendees through digital question-asking platforms, or even prioritise seated guest interactions that might help to ensure optimal physical distancing measures throughout conversations.

Evidently, hosting corporate events will remain challenging even in a post-COVID world. For most event planners, virtual and hybrid options will become the new normal due to their low-risk nature. However, live events will still be possible, with the right health and safety guidelines set in place.