The Future of Marketing Events in the Age of COVID-19

Events have always been a double-edged sword for marketers – they generate most of the leads, but they are also incredibly expensive and time-consuming. Now they face an uncertain future.

We need to think about what the fairs and conferences will look like in the coming months and maybe even years – and whether it is still worth spending time and money for traders, visitors, or exhibitors.

Any events in the remainder of this year are likely to be smaller with fewer participants due to social distance and travel restrictions, and this could continue until 2021 and beyond. Cities and states are limited and are likely to continue to limit larger meetings.

Staying profitable during the recession is a challenge.

Producing a small event can require as much planning and execution as producing a large multi-day event; Therefore, due to the additional cost and complexity, some organizations may offer fewer face-to-face presentations in the short term (or ignore them altogether) and instead look for purely virtual opportunities to engage their audience.

The challenge for events in 2020 is how to stay profitable in the first place with the interests of the industry they serve and the safety of speakers, sponsors, and participants.

Hybrid events

Soon, the public and the speakers will be personal and distant during the events. And given the security guidelines available, there will be many more considerations for on-site positions than ever before.

First, ask yourself: is a personal event valuable for your final income? (Think of tangible conventions like CES: Presenting products to be seen or touched to maximize their impact.) If the main value of your opportunity is to get people to do business in person, they can’t do it anywhere else, your organization is important in the continuation of these face-to-face meetings.

However, if the primary value of your opportunity is to educate your audience, online events can best serve that purpose and the current environment can guide you in the direction you should probably have taken anyway.

Hybrid events offer producers the opportunity to serve a variety of target groups. These events can have face-to-face participants and sponsors, remote virtual participants, and a combination of face-to-face speakers and presenters connecting via video conference.

This hybrid approach presents challenges and opportunities, as organizers may consider new tactical blocking factors, but this is how you reach a new audience. Remote participants may be willing to pay for reused content, even if they are unable to embark in person.

As budgets continue to fall until the end of the year, you can see that your participation has increased, as it is even cheaper to apply online than to travel in person.

Virtual events

Virtual events are already gaining momentum, thanks to the cost-effective and effective technology solutions launched daily, mainly thanks to the low-code / no-code development platforms that provide us with virtual experiences on our mobile devices in weeks instead of months.

A recent event I attended was based entirely on a mobile event application. Many of these applications are well integrated and offer the same functionality that you would expect from a personal event. This form of digitization is used to involve content, sponsors, and participants and add an element of gamification to the event

As for gamification, we will see that it is used to involve the public in virtual or hybrid events with scores and gifts. For example, votes can be attributed to participants when they perform actions such as filling out a profile, participating in a chat, or asking a question during a session.

It depends on the technology that the organizers chose and how they decide to involve the participants.

Live events: considerations

Famous venues like New York and Las Vegas are slowly reopening under strict guidelines, but there is still no way of telling when large crowds can gather for events.

What is the impact on event planning?

  • Time is needed to disinfect and clean showrooms, conference rooms, and other meeting places (cleaning and disinfecting high-contact points, microphones, laptops/mice/presentation areas, door handles, bathrooms, check-in counters, tables, etc.). Most of these functions are provided by the host site, but what are the exhibitors and sponsors of the conference rooms responsible for?
  • Social distance/distance should be monitored in exhibition areas, receptions, conference rooms, conference rooms, and recording areas.
  • Additional items must be provided by the event organizer, venue, show decorator, or individual exhibitors, including hand sanitizer, masks, keyless hotel check-in, and packaged food, as well as other necessary means, such as coffee or water stations operator maintained stations.


Some events have been postponed for this fall, in the hope that “normal” business will resume. Many business opportunities depend on the corporate budget and employee travel guidelines. We are all dealing with the same storm, even if on different boats.