As the event industry finally emerges (albeit bleary-eyed and a little shell-shocked) from its most challenging few years in living memory, it’s time for us all to start looking forward. Although the ongoing pandemic has created a difficult time for venues, planners, caterers and individuals we have to take heart in the lessons we’ve learnt along the way and the amazing resourcefulness that’s been shown.
With 2021 drawing to a close we wanted to look back at the way the event industry has adapted to our new world and see what this might mean for 2022. Are some of the changes we’ve experienced here to stay? What elements of pre-pandemic life might be making a comeback? And how will this all play out in the events that are being planned?
With delegates now more comfortable with virtual meetings and events, organisers have learnt how to confidently serve their online audience. We think 2022 is going to see these new skills reflected with an increase in demand and supply for hybrid events.
Done well, a hybrid event can offer the best of both worlds. For those who live nearby, want to commit to the whole day and feel the need to enjoy some face-to-face interaction with colleagues and speakers, attending in person will tick all of their boxes. One of the wonderful things about a hybrid event, is that the energy generated in real time benefits the digital attendees, too. Similarly, those sitting in the auditorium listening to a speaker have their experience enriched with the online interaction (possibly through polling and Q&As) of the virtual participants.
Hybrid events also have the benefit of (nearly) limitless ticket sales for their online part. Next year, organisers might even find its worthwhile to move their event to a smaller venue to reduce their costs while still enjoying an overall ticket sales increase. Organisers who see and encourage a shift towards a smaller live audience and a larger online presence will also be reducing the carbon footprint of their event – an undeniably positive result.
Now the seal has been broken for many organisers, the true, international reach of their event has become apparent. Geography no longer needs to limit your audience and your new, global attendees could inject fresh ideas and perspective to your event community. In short, the hybrid event will feature heavily in 2022 calendars.
Seamless virtual events
Expectations of purely virtual events have risen steeply since the world went into lockdown. Venues and organisers will need to raise their game in the next year if they want to keep up with the needs and wants of a new, demanding online audience. State-of-the-art AV has always been a bonus when looking for a venue, but it’s jumped further up planners’ priority lists since March 2021. Expect to see huge investment in video conferencing facilities, HD screens and broadcasting equipment this year.
With all of our talk of moving forward and embracing the changes the last 18 months have brought, it’s important to remember that lots of us are really excited to get back – in part, at least - to the way things were pre-pandemic. We’re expecting to see lots of really well-attended big parties, networking events and exhibitions as people celebrate being together, something we once took for granted but now appreciate all the more.
Taking comfort in the familiar is a human trait and one we predict organisers will tap into over the next 12 months. This could take the shape of a retro- or vintage-themed party, a traditional Christmas dinner or a good old-fashioned after-show drinks reception with a DJ and dancing. We don’t think it’ll be long before people remember how good it is to get together and celebrate – whatever the occasion.
When meeting outside became the only way to convene, venues and organisers adapted quickly and effectively and we saw the emergence of an amazing array of new, outdoor spaces. Even now, there will be lots of people who feel safer socialising outside. So, as well as seeing lots of fabulous outdoor summer parties, we predict that next year, regardless of the restrictions that may or may not be in place during the colder months, lots of organisers will opt for outside events.
Veganism and vegetarianism have made an appearance on our event trend predictions for many years now, but 2022 feels like a real turning point in the revolution. Not only has plant-based food enjoyed a huge injection of creativity and innovation in the last year, its benefits have reached a wider audience and a new level of poignancy.
We’re expecting to see some events boldly offer a purely plant-based menu and make no apologies about it. As vegan food rises up the ranks in terms of culinary kudos, organisers are realising that plant-based dishes aren’t a compromise on taste and provide a fully inclusive dining experience.
Your 2022 events at The HAC
As a historic venue we know our clients love the grandeur and tradition of our buildings and spaces. But we also understand the importance of purpose-built facilities and high-end AV equipment and support. We have a fabulous, large hall called the Prince Consort Rooms which works well as a hybrid venue plus lots of outdoor space if you’d rather host outside. Our in-house caterers serve restaurant-quality food and have fabulous menus from which you can choose. Our chefs are also happy to work with clients who might want to serve entirely plant-based catering to their guests.
To find out if we can accommodate your dates and to discuss your ideas for your 2022 projects, give our events team a call on 020 7382 1533.