The Road Ahead for the $1.5 Trillion B2B Events Industry: When Will Events Return?

COVID-19 is yet to be fully eradicated, but the world is slowly getting back on its feet. If both planners and venues work together, events will start to take shape once again. For the B2B event industry, there will be a new set of protocols that will be followed now – one that focuses on safety and the health of the attendees. What are these new norms?

How soon will they return? If you are a part of the B2B industry then read on.

Venues Need to Take Protective Measures

Venues are an important aspect of an event. As the event planning industry resumes operations and B2B events start once again, venues will have to implement social distancing norms and take every precaution possible so that those hosting and attending are safe and their health is not compromised in the least bit.

    • Venues will need to have the facility of thermal scanning if any attendee is showing any symptom(s) of being unwell. Not following this could mean jeopardizing the health of others.
    • Venues will need to have a proper sanitization policy so that the possibility of the virus spreading is eliminated.
    • Having protective gear ready that can be supplied in case there are attendees who come without one will become important.
    • The room and the seating configuration will have to be paid heed to. For instance, tables can be set 6-feet apart with sufficient space in the aisles and carpets can be marked so that people are aware of how far apart they should stand.
    • Venues should also put a cap on the scale of gathering or size of the event.
    • Ensuring that all attendees and employees are aware of the safety protocols will also be important.
    • As long as social distancing needs to be followed, buffets and post-event parties would probably not happen. Rather, seated dining is likely to become popular. Hence, venues need to come up with options such that those hosting can be offered cost-effective F&B solutions. For example, pre-packed food or boxed meals would be a less expensive option. One should also avoid keeping food and drinks on display and there needs to be a restriction on the number of people in the kitchen and also train the staff who are serving.
    • It will be safer to host events outdoors where there is sufficient airflow. As warmer months are approaching, this can be taken advantage of by venues who have such open space.
People Need to be Willing

When you plan to host an event, it is one thing to choose the right venue and an entirely different thing to sell the event and get people to attend it. The pandemic has made people wary and nervous. And the event industry will be largely impacted with this effect. Hence, even if an event is held, there will be many who will still think twice before attending it. For instance, prospects might not be too willing to mingle with big crowds, travel long distances for a meet, or stay at hotels for an event. Hence, companies need to start small with local events that don’t last for a long time and with a limited number of invitees. You can reach out to a larger audience by using social media channels to talk about the event and to showcase the highlights of it.

Virtual Events Will Still be Around

It will be a while before large events start. For instance, Facebook has announced that it would not be hosting an event on a large scale till next year’s summer. This said, however, events will begin, but slowly and that too initially only at the domestic level. When they begin, not all leads might be willing to attend as anxiety is still there in the minds of people. So, it is best for you to begin with events that are small. For instance:

    • Internal meeting with your team who have been working from home these past months
    • Small workshops or seminars that you can host for people in the vicinity

A study on the B2B event industry trends carried out by Global Meetings Industry Day found that most event-professionals feel that events will return by September 2020. However, this will be a hybrid of digital and live. Hence the virtual alternatives of a real face-to-face event will still be around. Thus, if you have been thinking of hosting an event, it would be good to explore the virtual options as well-

    • Host webinars.
    • Be active on social media.
    • Keep your web content updated.
    • If you have a mobile-based app then use push notification to engage with your clients.
    • Make optimal use of search engine marketing by, for example, using better keywords and geo-setting your ads.
    • Network more on professional sites like LinkedIn.
    • If you have been using a business card scanner app like ScanBizCards, you would already have a ready database of prospects. Use this list to generate new leads by reaching out to them more frequently. ScanBizCards also helps to scan your emails to generate new leads.
    • Brainstorm with your team to find out how you can use the AR and VR more effectively.
Events Will Be Challenging

Lockdown is over, however, the spread of the virus is still a threat. Hence, while you might want to start planning events, you must also remember that it will still be a challenge.

  • Other than the fact people are still anxious, tracing the movement of those who are sick with the help of an app is not totally foolproof. Hence, until this technology changes, events will only very slowly take shape.
  • Recently Morgan Stanley released a timeline by when people in the US are expected to return to work. While it looks like this will happen in August, it also talks of the second wave of contagion around November 2021. This, however, could be largely negated if a vaccine becomes available around March 2021. Hence, at the moment, it is somewhat still speculation about when the event planning industry will be working full steam and events will resume at scale.

The past few months have been bleak not only for the event industry but also B2B marketers who depend largely on events and trade shows. The pandemic has taken a toll on humans and on businesses. With lockdowns opening, organizations are taking baby steps towards normalcy. In-person events might not happen in full swing for the next couple of years – not till there is a vaccine, herd immunity, or simple treatment is available – but they are starting.

There are states that are not taking ‘no’ for an answer. For instance, Governors of states including Missouri and Arkansas have decided to allow large events to take place – of course, with the right safety measure. So, while planning an event, keep it small-scale initially and make safety your topmost priority. You have made it this far, you will just keep doing better from hereon – have that faith.