5 reasons why we’re expecting business events to bounce back

15 months ago, it seemed that the world was being irrevocably turned on its head - social gatherings, air travel, even a seat at a wedding, all consigned to history. Probably the most striking change to daily life has been the home office. This now is changing, and companies are sending teams back to the office. What will this mean for company meeting and events?

The events industry has been one of those in the deep freeze for the last 15 months. With staff working from home for safety reasons, there was no possibility of them coming together for any type of corporate event. Firms though are gradually returning to their offices, but it is the global technology firms that are garnering most attention, as they announce plans for a return to the office - these firms after all would seem to be amongst the best suited to working remotely. So, if the world has managed without corporate events for the last 15 months, will companies return to events when they are possible again?

Return to the office

We have heard predictions in the last year that the office would no longer be part of our working landscape, that vast swathes of office property would lie dormant. Yet most firms are on the path to returning their staff to offices. Technology companies, whose business functions would seem ideally suited to remote working are also indicating that the end of the home office is near. Clearly remote working has proven a critical tool in the modern economy – it is here to stay. But with the return to the office for the vast majority of staff, the reason to forego team gatherings for safety reasons is invalidated – there is either distancing or not. Meeting in person is a fundamental part of our life experience and it will likely continue that way. Just yesterday, President Biden told the world, ‘it is better to meet face-to-face’. That’s simply the way humans function.

Past trajectory indicates big bounce back

So, if it is possible to meet in the office, will corporate events be part of the future of business? It easy to think we have entered a new era, yet current trends in many respects represent an acceleration of trajectories that we were already underway, pre-pandemic. Online retail, movie streaming, home dining and video calls were all growing sectors over many years. Pre-pandemic, the global MICE industry was on a growth path with new infrastructure and strategies. Destinations recognised the importance of adding MICE clients to their visitor mix and invested heavily in facilities. It is hard to see why they would now look to change course and forgo the revenue streams from event clients.

More remote working requires additional team dynamics  

There is the argument that with mass adoption of video conferencing then we will conduct anywhere between some and all live meetings and events virtually. Video technology is firmly entwined in daily work practices now and this will likely facilitate a more flexible work pattern with remote working tolerated (rather than encouraged) for many organisations. So, if teams are more likely to spend more time disconnected in future, there is good reason to assume that more team meetings and events will be organised to promote team cohesion, communication and dynamic. Zoom, Teams, Google Meet – they have performed miracles but they have their limitations and we can't successfully undo the evolution of business communications in such a short timeframe and with no compelling reason.

Virtual is painful

Virtual events came to the market as a response to remote working and event companies were in a scramble to offer something unique and approximating a familiar event experience. We joined the dash and managed to have groups learning to yodel, virtually skiing down mountains, and searching for lost phones in a street view application. It was a sticking plaster as the world we knew unravelled before our eyes. But the truth is, whichever way we formatted the virtual events, they ultimately felt like a reminder of what the group were missing. I imagine that virtual events will go the same way as face masks – consigned to a period of history that most of us want to forget. 

The market seems to ready to ‘event’ again 

Our clients are currently booking events for the coming winter, starting with events in January 2022. There are indications that autumn and late 2021 could see our first events since March 2020. Postponed events are still going forward and there is no indication that the trajectory of the MICE industry has been fundamentally altered in the long term by the pandemic.

Events will probably look different in the future, greater consideration for quality, client security and the wellbeing of our destinations. Local options and train travel should also tick a range of boxes. Just no more virtual – it isn’t us!

Jazz band playing to an audience
Important note: This website uses cookies. I UNDERSTAND, CONTINUE