A Year in Review for the Events Industry and a Glimpse into the Year Ahead

As we enter 2023, the future of the sector looks bright. This rapid recovery can be attributed to the learnings gained over the last year, writes Chanda Singh, CEO of XP&D


Industry Lessons from the Pandemic

After two years of stagnation, 2022 was a challenging year for the sector as a whole. The lifting of restrictions saw events come back with a vengeance – everyone wanted to be out and about, to make up for a lost time, and to gather in a public setting for experiential events. It was overwhelming at the same time as everyone wanted to do all kinds of experiential events. While project and time management have always been integral tools in any events professional’s arsenal, the scale of the projects that 2022 brought allowed no errors. Planning became an integral part of 2022 as the scale of Projects was reasonably significant, and no scope of redundancy was accepted.

Brands had funnelled two years of marketing budgets into the digital sphere, and now that events were back, no expense was to be spared. Planning was also critical due to the collaborative nature of events. Every function results from the combined effort of multiple teams of experts – from marketing and logistics to infrastructure and security, everyone has a role to play. For an event to be successful, every one of these teams must work in sync towards a common goal. 

This period also saw the emergence of the hybrid events model. Although events before the pandemic did have a digital aspect, the role was largely symbolic, and the impact was generally negligible. However, the digital medium has since become indispensable, and the events held in 2022 have been quick to capitalise on its potential from an experiential standpoint. This was achieved by embracing the Online-to-Offline-to-Online (O2O2O) strategy. In its simplest terms, this describes a complete cycle where consumers are directed between offline and online experiences, engaging with a brand at an event in different contexts across different virtual and physical platforms. Implementing this strategy will leverage the capabilities of new technology, including AI, VR, and AR, and reinvent the on-the-ground event experience for a new generation of customers. As we advance, hybridisation will become the norm for the industry and the only way to survive in the future. 

The Next Phase of Events

As we enter 2023, the future of the sector looks bright. This rapid recovery can be attributed to the learnings gained over the last year. In addition, large-scale sporting events held in 2022, such as the IPL, the National Games, and the FIDE Chess Olympiad, and parallel events like the Dubai Expo 2020, have also provided vital learning experiences to an industry in recovery, giving events professionals’ platforms on which to refine new digital techniques.

Indian agencies will build on these experiences to work on large-scale national and international projects, hosting established IPs and launching new ones with the O2O2O model as a central pillar. And while the threat of COVID still looms, agencies must be prepared to work around it and provide the best solutions for their clients, partners, and people. Ultimately, there’s no real substitute for an in-person event. The field will instead continue to evolve, adopting and implementing new technologies to heighten the experience while retaining the core essence of a live experience. And while the threat of Covid will hound us, one has to be thoroughly prepared to work around it and bring out the best solutions for clients, partners and people.

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