On Friday 26th March, we hosted our very own virtual event, The Make Events Show.

Our CEO, Holly Moore, facilitated a panel during the event, with industry experts Martin Fullard, Editor of Conference News, Denise Mapp, Virtual Events Professional and Frank Mckenna, Founding member of Downtown in Business.

We also heard from Rick Parfitt Jr from RPJ on the return of live events.

We took questions from the audience and the discussion covered hybrid, virtual and live events and how the industry will recover after COVID-19.

Here’s what we learnt –
1. Virtual and hybrid events are not a cheap alternative
A high-quality production, like The Make Events Show, must not be seen as a ‘make do’. You often even need two different production teams to ensure you are getting the most out of the different mediums. This is to cohesively bring the two audiences together and ensure it is engaging for all watching.

2. We need an omnichannel approach
How people consume information is constantly changing. The audience you want to engage with hasn’t gone anywhere, they still want to consume your content it’s just in a different way. (eg. Video, podcasts, virtual and live events). This is how the savvy events planners are thinking.

Martin Fullard said: “We’re in a watershed moment for the industry, we’ve been forced into chasing virtual concepts. This is evolution and we were heading this way anyway the pandemic has just expedited it.”

3. Live events will go ahead again soon
Downtown in Business Liverpool hosted their awards live in 2020 with 250 people being COVID tested beforehand. They found that people are desperate to get back out and they could never have created that experience virtually.

Frank McKenna said: “We didn’t know how people would react to being COVID tested as it was still a relatively new thing then, but they were delighted to as it meant they could actually go to an event.”

4. We must accommodate for people who don’t want to attend live events.
We love bringing people together, but we must look at every angle to ensure its diverse and accessible for everyone who wants to experience it.

Denise Mapp said: “People do crave the interaction of live, but my concern is how do we include those who don’t feel comfortable? How do we minimise the risk for these people?”

We need to have those hard-hitting questions with venues and clients to make sure we have all bases covered.

5. Corporates will approach live with caution
Martin Fullard said: “One particular venue chain I spoke to reported £2m worth of bookings after the roadmap was announced in February. But no brand wants to be at the centre of a new outbreak, which is why virtual is still important.”

Corporates may want the flexibility within their terms and conditions when booking as there is that risk that it might not be able to go ahead, or date changes may be needed. Some companies will be innovators and decide to jump straight back into live but others will wait to see how other companies’ have gone.