Looking Ahead

By Erin Phillips

We did it! We made it to 2021, we can’t say it didn’t come without roadblocks, detours, and a few flat tires. It was a journey of a year that stretched us but as we take a collective breath, we realize it didn’t break us. If anything, it made us even stronger as an industry.  

In Q1 2020, we were prepared to host bigger and more elaborate events, connect more people with one another, and continue to push the needle with unique immersive experiences. Which is why I am sure that none of us will forget the pit in our stomachs in late February as the tough decision to begin cancelling events came. One by one brands began to “call it,” sometimes with multiple cancellations in a single hour. The conference room was buzzing as someone ran in to announce yet another legacy conference or tentpont event making their announcement.  And then, on Friday March 13th we packed up our desks and headed to “work from home” until the dust settled 

What happened from there was history. The term “pivot” was coined, and we never looked back. In a matter of months, the industry began to rewrite the book on producing virtual events, something that needed to be learned quickly and effectively 

We came out of 2020 more resilient, more creative, and a heck of a lot more tech savvy! 

So now what? As we embark on Q1 of 2021 the world looks much different, so it is natural that the way we connect people through unique experiences must continue evolving as well. 

Below Please Find Our Top 5 Experiential Resolutions for 2021 

Engage Differently  

  • Push the envelope. Zoom was so 2020. It’s time to shake things up witnew technology platforms to host our conferences, webinars, and tradeshows. 
  • Share the wealthTake knowledge sharing to the next level through avatar-based platforms, 2D gamified learning experiences, and training sessions hosted in augmented or virtual reality.  
  • Face the facts. The metrics we can gather through virtual and hybrid events can vary from the analytics we are able to collect during in-person events. We must use this almost real-time data to our advantage. 

Create Shareable Experiences  

  • Inspire audiences to act. 2020 was the year of branded swag kits and mailers – but did it come with a strong enough call-to-actionThis year we want to gift with purpose and include a CTA that gets people up from their desks to engage with brandsThe options are limitless, from game night in a box, to branded family PJ’s, trivia nights, and drive-thru concerts. Less stuff, more experience. 

Be More Charitable  

  • Connect more. Our focus in 2020 was to make sure our teams had the resources and support they needed during the transition to a virtual work environment. Now it’s time to connect with our communities.  
  • Give back. We want to host more virtual fundraisers during events, encourage more corporate matching, and promote donations for organizations that are near to our hearts. Building charitable components into virtual events is easy to do and has a widespread impact on the brand, the attendees, and our communities.  

Increase Sponsorship Involvement 

  • Increase our roster. Its time to jump back into the saddle and work alongside our partners to provide meaningful and plentiful sponsorship opportunities. 
  • Start early. Work with sponsors in the initial planning phase to identify ways to incorporate them into the main event and maximize their exposure at virtual events. 
  • Offerings might include speaking opportunities, leading workshopsexploring co-branding opportunitiesor hosting entertainment interstitials and networking breakouts. 

Embrace the Unknown  

  • Stay nimble. As experiential producers we are used to having a plan B, C, or D to tap into if necessary. In 2021 we will still be navigating this new working environment and with that comes the need to remain flexible.  
  • Collaborate. Find partners we trust who can help us at the helm and embrace the opportunity to try something new. With the unknown also comes the opportunity for creative solutions, exposure to emerging technologies, and a way to shake up the traditional event format. 

We are excited to be on this journey with you and cannot wait to see all that we will accomplish this year together, both virtually and in-person. And be sure to check out our 21 tips for ’21 on social over the next several weeks … this is the beginning!

Your Friends @ MAG