Assessing the post-pandemic effect
Throughout the pandemic, computer and device screen time and time spent online increased significantly. It’s estimated that during the Spring 2020 lockdowns, total internet traffic increased by up to 60% globally. Attending online events such as webinars, meet-ups and online learning mechanisms all contributed to the uptick. They made it possible for people to continue to hear from experts and gather new insights – and for that we should all be thankful. It wasn’t too long ago when the technology to produce and attend virtual events simply didn’t exist. And being unable to travel would have put a complete halt to the information sharing, networking and business that attendees obtain at conferences. Today, the capabilities of many platforms are for the most part, outstanding.
As we brace for the “post-pandemic effect” – encouraged by a waning pandemic, business re-openings and a “summer mindset” – screen time will take a backseat to live, in-person events. People are hungry for normalcy, including meeting with friends and family, going to the beach, shopping in-person, playing sports and taking vacations. These are just a few activities that will sway attention away from our lives online, according to Grand Review Research’s Virtual Events Market Analysis report. In fact, half (50%) of Americans said they spend too much time in front of computer and device screens.
Shifting online mindsets
Naturally, this raises the question of how this will impact a burgeoning online events industry. This market, which was valued at $77.98 billion (USD) in 2019, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.2% from 2020 to 2027, according to the report.
As in-person social calendars are filling up once again, screen time will soon become a premium. Committing to virtual events as willingly or as easily as they were occurring during lockdowns, is now leading to an event “triage” between which are attended and which will be sacrificed. The result will be an on-demand mindset that will embrace the best of both worlds. That is, the time and money-saving convenience of attending virtual events anywhere in the world, combined with the face-to-face interaction, social engagement and “look-em-in-the-eyes” experience that all of us long for.
Preparing for a paradigm shift
Printing United is set for the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida from Wednesday, October 6 to Friday, October 8, marking the unofficial end of the pandemic for the printing industry. The event has a lot of hype surrounding it, but this begs the question: how will it – and other in-person events – be received? A study from Healthcare Insider conducted June of 2021 showed that Americans are eager to resume a range of activities, but are less comfortable with others. Over half of Americans aged 45 and up said they won’t feel comfortable traveling by plane, train or bus until 2022 or later. Border restrictions and vaccine requirements also play a role. Smaller events, user-group conferences and regional “roadshows” could help planners adapt a hybrid approach that takes on any number of shapes. These could include live in-person events with live virtual simulcasts, live events with full on-demand/pre-recorded content, live events with limited live virtual sessions, smaller live regional events – and everything in between!
It’s time to prepare for another paradigm shift – as we transition from an online mindset to an on-demand one – and take control of our time spent online. From an attendee perspective, it means having access to content when it’s convenient for you during the day or night and on your laptop or cellphone. From an exhibitor perspective, it means anyone can visit your booth – live or virtually. Finally, this paradigm shift also means that planning for an event just got a lot more interesting.