Reimagining Business Events, Now and in the Future

Amid a changing workplace, decision-makers and event planners are now redefining what business travel and events mean, and how to best extract the highest value from these experiences.

Here’s a look at several trends you can expect to see take over as the business world adapts to new post-pandemic norms.

Rethinking business travel: Quality over quantity
Managed travel for business events isn’t expected to revert back to pre-pandemic levels. Given the success, ease and low cost of videoconferences, webinars and other virtual events, decision-makers will be more closely scrutinizing travel opportunities and questioning their necessity.

Organizational leaders will support fewer trips that are more impactful, while lower-priority occasions will likely turn into virtual or hybrid events. Now and in the future, decision-makers will be taking a quality-over-quantity approach and keeping an eye on the quantifiable business impact of each possible travel reason. Getting on a plane to close a major deal in a face-to-face meeting, or to network with dozens of new prospects at a tradeshow will take precedence over cross-team meetings and other occasions with less of a direct impact on the bottom line.

In general, fewer, higher-profile business representatives will likely take part in travel. For many employees, flexible work-from-home arrangements may become more of a job perk than the exciting travel opportunities and airline points of the past. But the advantage is that more participants from all levels of the organization may be invited to participate in valuable virtual meetings and presentations.

Leveraging the value of diverse event channels
Virtual events are often compared to or considered replacements for in-person experiences.

But savvy event planners will leverage the unique advantages of each meeting channel, as well as omnichannel or hybrid experiences, to drive the most value. They will also consider which channel and format will provide the best outcomes for all participants.

For instance, business leaders will likely prefer in-person arrangements for high-stakes interactions. When picking up on even the most subtle nonverbal cues and responding strategically can make or break a meeting’s outcomes, going virtual simply can’t compete.

But when it comes to sharing knowledge and reaching audiences far and wide, virtual formats may be preferred due to their convenience, accessibility and cost-effectiveness.

Omnichannel events will offer the best of both worlds. For company-wide trainings, employees may meet up in local pods while still streaming into virtual components produced from the headquarters. This way, they can alternate between in-person activities and synchronous sessions that the entire organization can tune into.

Embracing a wider variety of omnichannel event formats
Increasingly, the format of a business event will be tailored to the event goals and desired outcomes. Whether it’s an educational seminar, a networking event, a sales presentation, a hiring fair or something else, this will inform the type of event hybridization planners will use.

Event organizers can choose from a wide variety of different hybrid event configurations, as outlined by Meeting Professionals International (MPI):
  • Live main event: A traditional face-to-face event can have presenters and guests in the same space.
  • Live main event plus virtual participants: A face-to-face main event can stream content to remote attendees.
  • Live main event plus one-way pods: A face-to-face main event can stream content to pod audiences, who also engage in small group activities — as with the company training example noted earlier.
  • Live main event plus two-way pods: The main event and pod events can conduct real-time two-way communication, rather than a one-way stream.
  • Live main event plus one-way pods and virtual participants: Combining elements of the above formats to accommodate several audiences.
  • Studio event plus two-way pods: Rather than an in-person audience, a studio event can produce and broadcast content that pod audiences engage with.
  • Studio event plus two-way pods and virtual participants: This format invites remote audiences as well as in-person pods to communicate with the studio event hosts.
  • Equal pods: A series of independent pods — or locally hosted small groups of participants — can lead out their own sessions while joining up with other pods for special programs.

Each hybrid event format offers its own advantages. Live main events, studio events, pods and virtual attendance can all be leveraged to support the best overall experience for everyone involved.

Successfully embracing these innovative event formats requires a great deal of expertise. Partner with JTB USA Meetings & Events to ensure the most seamless event experience and the best possible outcomes for your business.