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It’s been a complicated couple of years for those in the live events planning industry, including on the corporate events and meetings side. Many meetings and events have been canceled, postponed, modified, moved online, and more. We’ve talked about all these events-related disruptions many times in this space and won’t rehash the details here.

Instead, we want to look forward.

Live events and corporate meetings are rebounding in 2022, and recent relaxed CDC guidelines have many hopeful that this trend toward endemic status will help us all continue getting back to life as normal.

As events industry experts, the Bluewater team has been navigating these changes carefully and is ready for any new pivots that may become necessary. For the time being, we’ve identified six trends you should be aware of as you plan corporate meetings and events for 2022 and beyond.

Event Planning Timetables Are Shortening

Where the industry used to operate on a six- to 12-month turnaround cycle for major events, we’re seeing much shorter timetables now. One to two months — possibly even shorter — is much more common today than in past years.

The reasons are numerous, including many of the following points. When events are smaller and must be exceptionally agile, able to pivot to current conditions, then lengthy planning timetables aren’t very workable.

Flexibility and Agility Are Crucial

Along with shorter timetables, event planners must create experiences that are highly adaptable and can be pivoted on short notice. An in-person corporate meeting might need to shift to hybrid or even entirely virtual if a new variant or outbreak pops up between the start of planning and the date of the event.

This level of flexibility and agility was unheard of just a few years ago. But today, it’s the new normal.

Travel Uncertainties Persist, But Local and Regional Meetups Are More Consistent

While domestic travel is generally available, with few if any restrictions going forward, travel uncertainties persist into 2022 and may continue for some time. International travel bans or extended quarantine periods continue to make certain forms of travel and destinations impractical or impossible, and some of your international attendees may similarly not be able to make the trip.

Even domestically, case counts rise and fall in uneven patterns, and while we all certainly hope we’re done with variants, we can’t bank on this.

So some who can travel to your event might be uneasy doing so, and some still might not be able to at all.

The upshot is that local and regional meetups, those requiring less or no air travel and no international travel, are rebounding more consistently. In states and regions with relatively low levels of spread, in-person regional meetups pose relatively low risks. It’s no surprise that many businesses with far-reaching footprints are focusing on these sorts of meetings for 2022.  

Pandemic Guidelines and Attendee Attitudes on Safety Are Mixed and Constantly Shifting

Recent changes in CDC guidance relaxed mask recommendations in many places. Of course, many businesses have already done so, while others won’t do so for some time despite the new guidance. And on the individual level, attitudes are all across a spectrum, both on safety and on appropriate responses.

The point here isn’t who’s right and who’s less right — the point is that this is a confusing time to hold live events and in-person meetings. Guidelines and attendee attitudes are mixed, plus they’re constantly shifting.

Our best advice is to be clear about expectations where they exist, as well as what precautions are in place.

Questions on Budget and ROI

Lastly, questions on budget and ROI of events persist. In some sectors, events were canceled entirely for a time, and decision-makers are evaluating the impact of those cancellations on budgets and revenue. Offering hybrid events can carry additional costs, and the ROI on virtual attendees can be challenging to measure.

In 2022, it’s incumbent on those who see and benefit from the value of corporate events to champion those events — even showing decision-makers what the ROI and follow-on benefits of holding those events look like.

Bluewater Knows Live Events (and Virtual and Hybrid Ones, Too)

As you gear up for a new season of live events, whether in the corporate space or elsewhere, you need the right partner to execute those events flawlessly. Bluewater’s team has the experience you need for live and corporate events — plus the event-driven technology you need for hybrid and virtual.

Can we help you execute at a higher level? Let’s talk!

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