Just about every major event was cancelled in 2020. From the Olympics to nonprofit board meetings, very few were able to meet in person. After nearly a year of social distancing, working from home and endless Zoom calls, we are rounding a corner. With vaccines being deployed around the world, what can we expect in terms of events this year?
On the most recent episode of our podcast, Associations Next, several members of our events team gave us some insight into what we can expect in 2021.
First and foremost, do not expect to go back to exclusively in-person events any time soon, or potentially, ever. A central theme we discussed on the podcast was how much things changed in 2020. Many of us were told one day not to come back to the office and adapted quickly to remote work. This immediacy also applied to switching events to a virtual format. Now that we have put in the hard work to learn and execute these virtual events, many associations may continue to use them.
Further, some have found virtual conferences to be more effective. Previously, members would fly in from various locations and pay for hotels, transportation and other activities. Now, members from all over the world have the opportunity to participate in conferences from anywhere, and at a much lower cost.
We certainly cannot predict the situation for later this year—but with vaccines being deployed around the world, there is a possibility of in-person or hybrid events in the second half of 2021. On the podcast, we discussed what this might look like. Even with vaccines, the in-person events that do take place may still require masks, have an increased presence of sanitation stations or require testing for the virus.
As the pandemic continues, we know we must remain flexible. Our events department recommends listening to your members and your board about their feelings on in-person events. If you are planning to schedule in-person events, consider preparing your team to have a virtual back-up in case you cannot meet in person.
It is a new year, but things are not back to normal. Still, we have the knowledge and ability from 2020 to prepare us well for the coming year.