2021 is here, So What Now?

26 Jan, 2021
Insightful Blogs

2021 is here, and so far… not much has changed. Even though we cheered in the new year with hope and optimism for better times, many countries across the world remain in national lockdowns, travel corridors are restricted, and budgets continue to be cut. For the event industry, the upshot is that things won’t be coming back with a bang just yet. So, what’s the alternative and where do we go from here?

We remain optimistic that we will be able to deliver physical brand experiences sooner rather than later, but we continue to be realistic given the current circumstances. The virtual event realm gained rapid momentum as a way to maintain the human connection between customers and clients. However, over time virtual has matured and evolved to encompass more elaborate and comprehensive technological event tools that build immersive brand experiences to inform and engage on a deeper level. Cook + Associates has already rolled out many successful virtual events for top tier clients, taking our brand experiences to new virtual heights with our Exhibition 3.0 concept. From websites, conferences and even immersive 3D spaces, we created an adaptable toolkit to fit the needs of the many in challenging new times.

There have been mixed opinions amongst industry professionals as to the effectiveness and efficiency of virtual events. There is no way the virtual world can or should replace that of face-to-face communication. But in the current environment, visiting and exhibiting at digital events is more beneficial to your organisation than not attending at all. From expos, summits, conferences, webinars, meet-ups and podcasts, the virtual world provides safety, simplicity and ease with content flexibility and a greater reference for data collections and ROI.

Many leading industry trade shows have already rolled out a totally virtual alternative to their physical show. At the beginning of January, the giant tech trade show CES swapped their Las Vegas stage to a virtual activation, taking it ‘all-digital’ from exhibitions to the after-party.  Visitors combed through hundreds of exhibitor presentations and pitches to find the latest and greatest in technological innovations. Despite not being the usually immersive CES, the remote, virtual experience has shown that it’s still a valid, if a somewhat unusual way, to get a taste of the tech year ahead – with LG unveiling teasers of a new rollable phone and Samsung’s new handy bot.

However, the realms of virtual can’t and won’t ever be able to provide the same excitement and buzz as the physical show floor. With the Covid-19 vaccine rollout, events could begin to return throughout the summer; and so, with physical on its way back, will virtual events become obsolete?

The pandemic has shown us that we don’t have to fly to one city in order to conduct business. Yet, the need to touch and feel products, to look people in the eye, have human interaction and feel the energy the show floor is something human nature craves. Whilst this ensures that physical events will be back, it may just not be in the way we expect.

Introducing the age of Hybrid. This has been a concept talked about in the event industry since long before the pandemic began, with technology such as AR simulations and interactive screens being incorporated into stand designs. Now it’s taking a different twist by using technology to connect remote visitors to the show floor. The premise of Hybrid is to fuse the physical and digital worlds together. With budget cuts and travel barriers in place, it could be a while before we see event attendance return to its old level, so there is a clear necessity to connect remote audiences. With simple meeting tools like video conferences to more elaborate holographic tools that bring virtual content into the physical show environment, there are boundless possibilities that deliver on every level, for every budget and requirement.   Read More…

As we look ahead into 2021, one thing is very clear.  We can take nothing for granted, and there is no such thing as certainty any more.  Above all, we have to be adaptable and find new ways of achieving our objectives, whether it involves physical, virtual or hybrid events.  The intrinsic flexibility that we have had to adopt in the past 12 months brings many strengths with it – what comes next will soon, we hope, be a question of choice rather than necessity as we match the best tools to deliver strategic event goals without constraint.