Now that 2023 is upon us here at Performedia (and everywhere else, of course), we thought we might look into our highly polished crystal ball and try to sense any shifts or trends we expect to see as the year plays out. Here's what we came up with:
We empathize with both the venues, who must recover from the pandemic years as they see fit, and the event organizers, whose jaws drop so often now upon receiving venue bids, they may need physical therapy. But as we found when one venue wanted $40k for simple outbound streaming bandwidth, and we were able to bring our own bandwidth for over 75% lower cost, where there is a will, there often may develop a way. It's hard to see exactly how the sky-high-costs rebellion will play out, especially now that there are fewer sizable A/V competitors. One trend may be a shift from bigger venues in bigger cities to smaller both, over the next few years. Compacts limiting organizers' ability to bring in innovative cost savers may persist, but find fewer signatories. And there is always the chance that if some competition really ramps up, venue prices may ease. Expect to see this in bandwidth provision, for sure.
Hope this isn't a self-fulfilling prophecy, but we do see this trend continuing at least through the first half of 2023. Many events are continuing to experience the same factors that caused them to turn their backs on hybrid in 2022 - lower-than-hoped-for onsite attendance, reduced sponsor dollars, budget cuts, staff reductions, and sky-rocketing venue A/V and bandwidth costs. But while these conditions appear likely to continue for a while, we also don't think the answer is for organizers to turn their backs on a vast swath of their sphere. There are solid tried-and-true methods for ensuring event content capture and distribution is profitable, especially if we are willing to re-examine our revenue models - we just need to implement them. And for those events that continue to provide content access to the audience that's not in the room, we see the work of lowering those costs and raising profitability continuing apace.
Sustainability has finally caught on with a critical mass of event organizers, so we expect that to be a factor many events will consider seriously this year. And the primary reason may be as much about cost savings as saving the planet, although we don't mind doing both. But as our friend Jennifer Crouse of the American Seed Trade Association discovered when she saved over 20% on the cost of badge printing by getting rid of plastic badge holders, the real savings was not in the plastic holders that no longer went to landfills, but reg desk staff savings when fewer people and training hours are needed because we're not stuffing these badges into the green holders and those badges into the blue ones. All of that can appear directly on a coated badge that requires no holder once it prints out. Many other such efforts go right to the bottom line for both the event and the environment.
Just two years ago, if you wanted live captions to appear in a meeting room, you had to make a lot of arrangements well ahead of time, either to have an onsite captionist or remotely provided captions, which could be tricky. Now with AI captioning becoming impressively accurate (don't like it now? Wait 3 months - it keeps learning . . .), there is no reason not to provide this attendee benefit. Efforts to establish a single accessibility score may finally reach fruition, and that should help events become more accessible. As with several trends this year, adoption of greater accessibility will be driven by the reduced cost of implementation and the opportunities presented by widening the paying audiences served.
So here's a question: when was the last time your main event(s) went through a major redesign? We suspect the vast majority of conferences went through a design process essentially once, at inception, which may have been a half-century or longer ago. Sure, we've changed some of the things we do since then. There is much more digital support of everything we do event-wise, but that doesn't really get at what a real event re-design can do. Do our attendees really want to sit in session rooms most of the day, for multiple days, or do we know that they are comfortable getting some of their education in other ways? Do exhibitors really benefit from aisles and aisles of 10x10 booths with dwindling numbers of attendees walking by and avoiding eye contact? We know that there is a desire to make events more cost-effective, more profitable, sustainable, and accessible, and we think serious re-design, rather than polishing around the edges, will become a real pursuit in 2023.
A great event partner will save you a boatload of stress regarding your virtual or hybrid event. Choose an event partner like Performedia today, and watch your event roar to life!