When the pandemic took the world by storm, the events industry (along with everyone else) spent 2020 surrounded by confusion, anxiety, and a whole lot of cancelled plans. Throughout 2021 that uncertainty became a little more familiar, and as an industry we were all able to pivot, adapt and make the most of it.
At Happily we leaned even further into virtual events and were able to master the remote production of a virtual event, creating an experience that fully embraced the digital world. Later in 2021, onsite events did cautiously return with a whole lot of protocols and considerations fit for a pandemic world.
We all wished for a post-pandemic new year that ‘returned’ to the way the world was before COVID-19… well, that may be another year off yet. As the closing scenes of 2021 showed us, uncertainty is coming with us into 2022.
However, we predict that in 2022 productions will be better equipped to ride the coming waves, will adapt with more Plan Bs up our sleeves, and will have a better understanding of what to expect.
We will see a continued acceptance and embracing of events in the virtual space. Attendees will become even more familiar with the experience, and a 100% remote production (with every event staff member and talent working from their home deck), can be safely transitioned into an onsite studio that is broadcast out to a virtual audience.
Smaller, localized onsite gatherings will be preferred over large-scale onsite events and summits with international attendees. Those onsite events will be approached with a list of newly normals for producing a COVID safe onsite events and if group travel is necessary, that will continue to look different too.
High-quality content is a major avenue for audience engagement, and is at the core of any successful event program. Currently, most content is created for or is a result of events, intended (primarily) for a one-time-only consumption.
We predict that the management and handling of content generated by events, meetings, summits, (ect) will be taken up a level. This trend will take full advantage of all the glorious nuggets of information generated, to turn them into on-demand content that can be accessed by communities or the general public.
As an example, Happily will be partnering with CLIPr, a machine learning and artificial intelligence program that creates a video data source. This will then enable the user to search, skim and locate any topic and moment they like within a dynamic library of video footage. CLIPr is fully integrated with major video conferencing software, such as Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams.
In terms of events, this will extend engagement beyond the event date, allow deeper insights into levels of engagement, and provide an on-demand navigable table of contents. This will be perfect for multi-day summits or conferences that explore a wide range of topics.
Due to a mass shift into a daily digital lifestyle of remote work and navigating deeper online communication, more than ever we are comfortable with engaging with others through a digital interface.
Hybrid experiences are not new to the events industry, with widely successful hybrid events such as TED, TwitchCon and the Apple Product Launch Events. This trend is about the mainstream acceptance and empowerment of hybrid experiences in 2022. We predict that more industries and brands will begin to embrace this blend of onsite and virtual audiences into a single event.
We have heard the Metaverse referenced a lot in popular culture lately. It will be a major advancement in technology that will allow us to seamlessly blend those physical and digital worlds and audiences, especially in connection to the hybrid experience trend as mentioned above.
Something that you may not have heard as much about is the idea of Web3. In an oversimplified way, Web3 means taking the internet as we know it now and adding the technology behind cryptocurrencies - blockchains. The idea is that this blockchain technology would allow people to gain ownership of their presence on the internet, ownership that many see as having been taken away by big corporations.
This is a trend of the changing nature, structure and experience of the digital world and the internet as we currently know it to be. We do not expect major leaps in mainstream culture regarding the Metaverse and Web3 in 2022, however, it is something that we at Happily will be keeping an eye on and are eager to stay up to date with the latest news, big or small.
For some time now the idea of the workplace has been shifting away from that once classic image of a 9-to-5 office job with all those tedious daily commutes and a schedule full of in-person meetings.
The changing nature of the structure, flow, and environment of where and how we work has been catapulted forward by the pandemic. Out of necessity, many people and industries were thrown into a remote framework who had never thought it possible before. Employees and employers have come to understand the benefits, and re-thinking how their workplace operates going forward, no longer bound by perceived ‘norms’.
We predict that a remote work model will be permanently adopted by more and more businesses or brands in 2022 - or at least a hybrid model, with more flexibility for remote work by employees.
In terms of events, this trend will greatly benefit from curated experiences to keep the team feeling connected. For example, quarterly offsite retreats for departmental planning in an onsite location, or regular virtual all-hands meetings that are produced with a higher broadcast quality.