What’s Going to Happen With Events Next Year?

Four event marketing professionals share their perspectives on the future of events — and how marketers will need to rethink how they market them. 

Author: Michelle Russell       

MGD-Freeman Roundtable speakers

Ken Holsinger (from left), Reggie Henry, Yancy Weinrich, Tommy Goodwin, Erin Lee, and Anjia Nicolaidis took part in an executive roundtable Freeman hosted in November. (Courtesy mdg)

Perspectives from four event marketing pros who spoke at an executive roundtable Freeman hosted in November in conjunction with Lippman Connects’ Exhibition & Convention Executives Forum (ECEF).

“According to Freeman research, about half of pre-COVID event attendees haven’t returned to in-person events. Instead of looking at when or where attendees will return, we need to look at why. The Great Retirement and Great Resignation of people leaving the workforce combined with a great shared trauma have created a great unknown, which must reshape how we market events. Rather than focusing on the logistics (health and safety), we need to target the more emotional reasons for returning (connecting with people in person, business opportunities) to entice the fence-sitters to come back.” 

Ken Holsinger, senior vice president of data solutions, Freeman

“COVID-19 has been a huge wake-up call to think beyond the show floor. We need to build communities and credibility for our brands to benefit our physical events. We’ve learned that while content has a place online, being able to engage, network, and meet face to face is critical. Virtual and hybrid models that try to replicate the in-person experience haven’t seen much traction. Instead, we need to create an omnichannel event that allows attendees to engage with content year-round and supports a different on-site experience.”

Yancy Weinrich, chief growth officer, Reed Exhibitions U.S.

“The past two years have helped us rethink audience behavior. Virtual meetings tripled in size in 2020, breaking marketing myths about online events. Those events drew a much younger and more volunteer-based crowd, and we need to include them in our planning as we go face to face. We also need to consider how people behave in virtual settings — in person, it’s easy to direct people where to go next; online, people go where they want. While this should be taken into account for virtual events, it can also help us build more choice into in-person events.”

Reggie Henry, chief information and engagement officer, ASAE

“As international travel resumes, event marketers will need to balance building excitement with managing expectations. It’s important that our international marketing teams are keenly aware of international developments and the markets that matter most to stakeholders. International inbound marketing strategies should build brand awareness to attract new leads. Promotional partners, such as travel organizers, influencers, and media partners, in strategically important markets can help build excitement and create a comeback narrative.”

Anjia Nicolaidis, international marketing strategist, mdg

These insights were excerpted from mdg’s Inner Circle December newsletter. Read the full article, “The Road to Recovery: A Presentation in Six Acts.”

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