What Changes Caused by the Pandemic Will Stick?

Source : PCMA

Author: Convene Editors

The pandemic’s effects were so profound and far-reaching that not changing ceased to be an option for almost everyone on the planet. But which changes will be permanent, and how will they transform events?

The pandemic isn’t over, but the days of empty airplanes and terminals you could roll a bowling ball through without striking a single traveler were ending earlier this summer at some destinations. Leisure travel was coming back with such a vengeance that it was being called “revenge” travel — as if we are getting back at COVID? And even business travel, which had been expected to lag behind, was inching back. In fact, organizers of events planned for this fall were reporting registration numbers comparable to pre-pandemic levels. Ticket sales for the medical conference HLTH, to be held in Boston in October, were in line with what they had been in 2019 and sponsorships were selling out, Jon Weiner, HLTH’s founder and CEO, told Bloomberg News in mid-July. And Ash Noah, vice president of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, told Bloomberg that “there has been an underestimation of the bounce back” in corporate travel in the service industry. The media outlet described fall conferences as having a “pre-pandemic flavor.”

Liz Caruso, founder and CEO of the techsytalk conference and community, is familiar with the urge to go back to the world the way it was before the pandemic. “A lot of corporate planners are talking about going back to in-person and hearing from their teams and their bosses that virtual meetings were almost like a blip on the radar,” Caruso said on July 13, speaking as a digital panelist at Hybrid Events Ignited, which was held at venues in London and New York City and online. She said that the thinking is, “‘We did virtual because we had to — and now we go back to in person only.’ I think that’s a big mistake.”

The last year has shaken up the events industry in a way that was “very much needed,” said Caruso, who’s been an advocate for event technology for more than decade. “I think organizers have been stuck in the way they have always done things. The concepts have been around for a long time, and other industries have been using digital tools for a long time.” Planners might be able to get away with ignoring the transformation going on around them for a few years, “but they won’t remain competitive,” she added.

“Evolve or die,” is Caruso’s mantra. “The world has evolved, and whether your company has evolved doesn’t matter,” she said. “In the last year, human behavior has changed dramatically.”

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