There have been an overwhelming number of reflection pieces published as we pass the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdown. Dozens of articles about what we missed, where we are, and what we can hope for in 2021. But what does this mean for an industry that is largely still closed for business?
Going into 2021, there was a lot of hope that events could come back fully this year. But, as we move into spring many that were originally scheduled to be in person have changed course and organizers have decided to focus on building out a robust virtual experience instead. Other event planners have decided to attempt a hybrid model where participants who are comfortable can attend in person, as usual, while others can partake in programing from the comfort of their computers. While neither of these strategies are new to the events industry, they were not at all commonplace in healthcare IT prior to the pandemic. For us, in-person has been the industry standard for decades.
The 2021 virtual events will likely look a lot different than those held in 2020. Last year, planners had to quickly pivot entire events remotely, and many left a lot to be desired. There were technology glitches, poorly trafficked booths, low lead counts, and questionable focus groups. With more time – and a year of virtual events under everyone’s belt – 2021 is likely to bring more innovation and better executed events to the space as we wait for it to be safe to be back in person.
Even with all of the promise and cost savings of virtual gatherings, at the end of the day, event planners like myself are holding on to the hope that in-person shows will come back in the latter half of the year. Live events enable the sort of dedicated time and attention that virtual experiences just can’t replicate. We hope to see you face-to-face in 2021, but if not, 2022 is right around the corner.