There’s really no need for me to state the obvious here. Covid pulled the plug on just about everything we love about conferences and events. The travel, the hotel bars, the spectacle, the lights, the displays. The meeting new people whom you’d otherwise never meet. The catching up with partners, friends, and the like. The business of business that was business, but wasn’t quite the standard “day-to-day” business. The Human Element of business.
This simply does not happen in the online event sphere. And it’s exactly this format that we are all so desperately missing and craving. Because whether we like it or not, as human beings, we are designed and programmed to be social creatures.
I was having a chat with Till Ohrmann from Pirate Global the other day, and posited that the current state of Tech events are a bubble. And in this bubble, the majority of participants are inclined to believe in an absolute and permanent shift to virtual events. If for no other reason, the tech industry wants to embrace tech. That’s that point right? And tech will make the world better, right?
The crisis has accelerated the growth of online events for sure. Growing from less than 10% to 20% of the market share in 2 years is unprecedented. Putting a dollar amount on this, according to Grand View Research, online events could represent $404.45 billion by 2027.
This growth spike is an outlier. An anomaly. A glitch in the matrix. Something none of us could predict, or saw coming.
My prediction, ney, conclusion, is that once a treatment, vaccine, and/or eradication of the virus is widely available, distributed, and administered, the real life, real world, in-person, industry, not solely events, will explode. Concerts, sporting events, cinema, theatre, tradeshows and conferences alike, will all see an unparalleled interest and spike in activity.
The human spirit is not designed to remain in (semi) isolation for this long an amount of time. Yes, I realize that the human race carried on long before the advent of the airplane, train, etc., but the desire to explore new territories, see new worlds, meet new people, drove the invention of these various modes of transportation. Human. Spirit.
This spirit is already beginning to return in Asia. Tradeshows, traditionally the bread and butter of the event industry, are beginning to show up again. And not just one here and one there, they are happening at scale. The Chinese market is no longer investing in virtual events; their outlier happened between March and June of this year.
Will the event industry be the same as it used to be? Fuck I hope not. Let’s call it like it really is – the market was oversaturated. Everyone and their brother had a summit, and if you really paid attention, after a while, you didn’t. Because you were hearing the exact same speaker giving the exact same talk. The only thing