The event industry in 2022 and beyond

Following the ‘Future of Stadia and Venues’ conference last month KSS Associate Director, Debbie Power, will be sharing key considerations for 2022 and beyond as she reflects on the industry, the impact of Covid and how to move forward positively.

No one could have predicted the last 22 months, the challenges and adaptation we have all faced, the strength and agility that has been required for us. The way we used to live, work, play and interact ceased to exist leaving us all apprehensive of what the new normal would entail.

We have now found ourselves in a transient hybrid state, trying to hold on to the most productive and self-rewarding aspects from both our old lives and our recent lives, to find the ‘perfect’ balance. As social and intellectual animals, our personal connections, sense of belonging and experiences are an integral part of achieving happiness and a sense of wellbeing. Which is why we have seen guests keen to return to the industry, events are selling out in record time, and demand higher than pre covid. These are real positive signs for those working in this industry that has been so harshly affected.

Unfortunately, no one ever said recovery would be easy, and there are many challenges facing the industry, with costs increasing, limited or unpredictable supplies, a staffing crisis, and guests’ whose habits are now engrained with a notion that their life is subject to change and unpredictability, leading to diminished brand loyalty. Never has this industry had to adapt and re-adapt on an often-daily basis that we must keep focusing this strength into 2022, whilst keeping a careful eye on the fluctuating global progress and hoping that all steps are steps forward in the new year.

Watch the full conference session here: https://youtu.be/ZVNsRI3U73A

New habits and perceptions – Whilst guests are actively returning to venues, there certainly has been a dramatic change in how we approach and perceive social environments, and then how we interact within these spaces once we have entered them. Either through new entrained, often cautious behaviours post our COVID experiences, or because of physical and clear restrictions guiding our behaviours to a new routine.

There is a welcomed heightened level of hygiene. Guests are often presenting a protective sense of their wellbeing, self-preservation as well as a care for others. The way we expect the environments to be considered and delivered for our personal use has changed. The positive return has clearly been enabled by the visible and physical reassurances within the environment, supported with regular guest communication that there are systems in place to keep them safe has meant that guests generally feel safe to return.

Our challenge as designers is to integrate these physical and virtual elements in harmony with the guest experience and in line with the brand; through enhanced design of elements like sanitisers, clear wayfinding for new routes and one way system, materials that can be hygienically cleaned, and inventive ways to integrate screening, to ensure that these elements are a reassuring and positive presence, and do not become an obstacle to the event, environment or experience.