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Watch Now: 2021 Event Trends Forecast with Will Curran

2020 shaped the event industry in ways we couldn't have ever imagined. But events professionals responded as they always do - by figuring out a way to bring people together. Now as we turn our attention and planning to 2021, Will Curran, Founder of Endless Events, has pinpointed a number of event trends that he foresees will shape the experiential marketing and corporate events industry in the year ahead. Watch or read below to get his take on what's in store.


Will (00:08):
I'm so excited to be here. Forewarning, for anyone who hasn't seen me present live before I talk really fast, especially when I'm excited about things. And I'm always excited about trying to predict the future. Where are we going? All the cool things are coming down the pipeline and how our industry is evolving over these last, you know, 17 years that I've been so lucky to be a part of this industry. So really quickly, I'd love to know in the chat, we're going to be blowing up the chat getting all excited on here. So how many of you guys have seen me present before if you have, or haven't post in the chat. Whether you've seen me present before, if you have post the presentation that you saw me presenting, if you haven't let me know, we are, we've got some first timers brand new newbies. All right. Oh, okay. Awesome. I love seeing some first time Will-seers. I'm excited. Oh, jungle gym. First timer in the house. I love it. All right. We're going to be getting even more engaging when it comes to it. So next piece of engagement. I'm gonna be doing a lot of like you know checking in and pulse checking with you guys. So you should see over on the the chat or on the participants button, click on the participants button. Bring that up. You should see a button that says raise hands. All right, there you go.

Will (01:16):
Some of you guys don't raise your hands quite yet. We'll put you lower your hands. Get your hand oh, get them down. But click participants and get ready to click on raise hand. We're gonna do a quick virtual wave in just a second, but all throughout the presentation, I'll say things like how many of you guys feel this? Or, you know, feel free to use that raise hand functionality. Let me know, like you're still alive and your heart's beating, so real quick, we're going to do a virtual wave. You guys ready on three. I want you to click the raise hand button. Ready? One, two, three, everybody. Raise your hands.

Will (01:42):
All right. Now everyone lower your hands. All right. Raise your hands. All right. Four of you guys are slacking right now. Lower your hands? All right. Raise your hands. All right, lower your hands. All right.

Will (01:57):
I mean, you guys are still are kinda slacking, taking a nap right now, checking your emails, stop checking your email, pay attention. We got some good stuff lined up. Also to give you another way to engage too, is that, you know, I don't want you guys to live in a silo. You guys have all so many ideas, so many, you know ways to contribute. So I've created a Google doc and posted in the chat, use that during the entire presentation, feel free to take notes feel free to post links, feel free to write ideas, whatever you want to use that Google doc for that is your Google doc forever. I'm going to leave it open for you guys to collaborate, build upon all that sort of stuff. I'm going to be trying to share a lot of links and things like that throughout the presentation to other blog posts, where you can learn more about this stuff you know, check out our podcasts, all that sort of stuff.

When it comes to calling the shots of where we're going to go as an industry, medical professionals are going to be the number one predictor of trends...no one in the events industry is going able to say, this is when we're going to go back to in-person.

Will (02:41):
So go ahead and check that link out. Only I think the first a hundred people I think can get into it. So you want, if you're planning on taking notes, go over that Google doc. If you're not planning on taking notes, you don't want to use the Google doc, choose your own adventure. You don't even have to. That's one of the best parts about being virtual is that, you know, if you don't want to sit in the front row and take notes, no big deal, but if you don't plan on taking notes and you just want to come back to the Google doc later, see what everyone posts, just bookmark it, close the tab, and then come back later just so then other people can get in and take notes. But yeah, have fun throughout this. Use the chat, use the Q and A functionality of Zoom.

Will (03:14):
I hope you guys all know how to use it. There's also an upvote functionality of the Q and A in Zoom. Please use that too. And all that sort of stuff. Victoria says she came in a minute late, so we'll go ahead and post that chat in there. Also another pro tip that I have for you is that in the chat, there's a button that says to colon. It says all panelists, change that to all panelists and all attendees. So that way all the attendees can see your responses. I want to see in the chat where you guys are, what you're learning, what you like, we disliked feel free to boo me in the chat if you don't like what I have to say, I don't care. Like give me some feedback in here as well. Also shoutouts to Robin who took the DES certification.

Will (03:49):
I hope you'll enjoy that content too. So you know how fast I can talk. And also I think you'll like how, how much I'm going to be using the whiteboard. So, all right, ground rules are set when it comes to engagement. So for everyone who hasn't met me, hello, my name is Will Curran. I'm the Chief Event Einstein of Endless Events. Got my superhero shirt underneath. And I'm really just jazzed to be here. We're a virtual event production company. So we do a lot of the stuff that you guys are all working on these days. So shout outs to a lot of our clients and partners that are in the chat right now, and lovely to see you guys. For anyone who has not met me before people like to call me what they call an influencer. Not the person that takes pictures of their food, but instead because of all the involvement I have across the industry and influencing different parts of it as well.

Will (04:37):
Most people know me because I'm a host of three of our different podcasts, the Event Icons, live video podcast, Event Tech podcast, and also Event Brew as well. If you haven't heard of these podcasts and you like podcasts, where have you been my whole life come and hang out with us. A lot of what we talk about in this trends presentation gets broken up across the board. And if you are, I got to know how many of you guys are subscribers of one of our podcasts in the chat. I'd love for you to post and let me know which podcasts that you subscribe to. Awesome. Kristen loves the Event Brew podcast. David says, I am now. To give everyone an idea of how they're all different Oh, Madison Event Icons. I love it. Juliane Event Brew.

Will (05:20):
Event Icons is our interview style. We interview the icons in the events industry. We do like an AMA style presentation. Event Tech podcast is a deep dive into technology and its place in the events industry. And then Event Brew is kind of like the podcast where we talk about the events industry and how it really is. It's very unfiltered. It's very raw. It's like the lobby bar after the, the trade show for the events industry where everyone's talking about what's going on in the industry and what's real, no filters. And it's really, really cool. So go check those out as well. And I will post, I'll post in the chat some links to them all or into the Google doc, I should say.

Will (05:58):
I'm going to be giving you guys, trying to drop some links in the Google doc as we go along, but let's get this rocking and rolling. So you guys have some links and subscribe. Yeah. If you check out the Google doc, almost every link that I share, I will post it into the Google doc. Just so then that way you guys don't have to worry about finding it in that crazy chat as it blows up as well. So there you guys go, there's links to all of them as well.

Will (06:23):
For all our people, it looks like we have a bunch of Event Brew listeners in the house. You might be thinking yourself, like, why is the guy who, on an episode of event brew had a title of a podcast called event trend reports - is it time for them to go? - and how I actually argued that event trends guides needs to die. And I want to talk a little bit about that, especially when it comes to this year, why it's so critical that you need to be thinking really critically about event trends now moving forward. But for me, for years, I've been writing the number one viewed event trends report on the internet. And I love it because you know what, it's a great chance for us to start to speculate. Where are things going? What, what what's potentially going to happen within the events industry? Super duper cool.

Will (07:06):
However, there's, we're at an inflection point within the events industry. So let's dive into some, some trends when it comes to, but first well, for one thing to kind of keep in mind, you guys is when it comes to event trends, this is the year that event trends reports are going to be all over the place. Right. I think for the past couple of years, everyone's kind of like agreed on a couple of things, right? Like sustainability. Yeah. That's like one of the big trends, right? You know more use of audience engagement. Yeah. That's great. But this year, things were a little crazy. I don't know if you guys noticed, but our industry got rocked really hard by this pandemic thing that's going on. You know, we want to make sure that when it comes to doing these trends that they're accurate and they're real.

I don't think anyone will disagree that hybrid is where everything's going to be moving towards right? Look, if you're sitting out here saying, you know what, no, people crave to be in-person, there's no way virtual will ever suffice, you're going to be left behind in the dust.

Will (07:48):
And because things are changing so fast, they're also changing very, very fast. So I will let you guys know as we come into this as a Jedi master, this is not the trends report that you're looking for. I will repeat that again. This is not the event trends report that we're looking for. I'm not going to be here and come up on stage and tell you guys yeah, hybrid, that's the next event trend. Like you guys know that right. That hybrid is going to be taking over. I'm not going to tell you things like, yeah, virtual platforms are going to get better, right. When it comes to it. But instead, I'm going to peak with you guys into how my process works. Full disclosure guys, no one in the events industry calls the shots, like not even Will Curran who writes these event trends, I'm going to speak brutally honest with you.

Will (08:32):
There was no like magic ball that I have here and that I can use to predict the future and say, here's where the events industry is going. You know what? I know everything when it comes to this. When it comes to calling the shots of where we're going to go as an industry, medical professionals are going to be the number one predictor of trends. Now, moving forward, I'll repeat that again. No one in the events is going able to say, this is when we're going to go back to in-person. This is when we're going to go to hybrid. This is when virtual will start to see a decline. The only person that'll be able to tell that is the medical professionals of the world. And, you know, in the chat, we got to give some love to all of our medical professionals who are working, our nurses, our doctors who are literally putting their lives on the line to keep us all safe.

Will (09:15):
And we want to make sure that we respect them because they know when it's going to be safe for us to put a hundred people in a ballroom, a thousand people in the ballroom, do a 10,000 person music festival, all that sort of stuff as well. So the medical professionals really are gonna be the ones. The CDC, the World Health Organization, they're going to the ones we have to watch throughout all this. If I come up here, we're going to talk about some of the cool things and the neat hype trends and things like that. But we really have to remember that all of this is dependent on a big, big thing, which is safety of our attendees. So if you are curious to know, like, what are, what's going to be the tipping point for the events industry, right?

Will (09:56):
What's going to be the point in which, you know, it is safe for us to come back? We actually did an Event Brew episode all about this, and I'm gonna drop a link to it. And hopefully I can find it real quick. We did a whole episode on like, what's going to be the tipping point for the events industry. So in the Google doc, I posted a link to it to our Event Brew episode, where we talked a little bit about that and kind of our opinions again, but they're opinions for when we think that in-person and hybrid events are going to really come full circle on when it comes to it. So, all right, well, that's the main stuff when it comes to it. So another quick disclosure, when it comes to this presentation, you guys it's October 20th, 2020.

Will (10:36):
I would love to say that I can predict what next year is going to look like. But again, I don't have a crystal ball, but what I'm going to do is I'm going to give you guys an exclusive look into before we actually write our official trends report. What, how my brain works, what sort of things am I looking at when it comes to the whole industry, when it comes to everything? So I'm going to give you guys a little bit of a sneak preview. So with that being said, I'm not using slides during this entire presentation, but instead I'm going to be using the power of drawing and notes and everything like that. This is actually using Microsoft whiteboards. That seems to be the number one question I ever get asked in the Q and A is how I'm doing all the drawings, but we're, I'm gonna be drawing everything that I talk about and kind of illustrating as it goes along again, avoiding the typical trope of using slides.

Will (11:23):
So I got to know in the chat, are you guys ready? Go ahead and post your favorite onomatopoeia. That's like a pow, wow, kazam, post that in the chat. If for your favorite onomatopoeia, if you're ready to go. We've got Amy saying bam, Stacy says shazam, junglejim says shazam. Yay! Crunch! Bam! Slam! I love it. It's where the word sounds like the, the, the thing that you're doing, right? Kaboom, Zoom. Woo-hoo! I like, I like woo-hoo as well. This is fantastic. Looks like you guys are ready to start talking about some trends. So, all right. Let's talk about the main one, which is when are we going back and what does this look like? Right. So when it comes to this, there are going to be two paths for the future of the events industry, right? And right now we're right here, when it comes to it.

Will (12:13):
There's going to be two paths that we can potentially go down, right, when it comes to it. And that as things go, you're going to have two things. And I'm going to just like, I'm not a medical professional in any sort of way. I don't promise to be one. And again, I don't call the shots for this is going to be the exact thing that comes in, but there's a couple of things that are going to kind of happen over time. Right? We might have things like, for example, a vaccine that comes in, we might have things like I don't know, like a better, better personal protection equipment, better PPE, right? We need things like, for example, attendee trust is also going to be big when it comes to this sort of stuff, all those things like that. When it comes to that, that one path where all that starts to happen, we're looking at the hybrid model, right?

Will (12:58):
I don't think anyone will disagree that hybrid is where everything's going to be moving towards right? This, this year has opened up everyone's eyes to see that moving forward, you are going to a hundred percent see people want to be virtual. Look, if you're sitting out here saying, you know what, no, people crave to be in person, there's no way virtual will ever suffice, you're going to be left behind in the dust. Virtual is always going to be a huge part of this. Introverts, people who can't travel as much, people with not as big travel budgets - when the corporation says, we're not going to send you to 20 conferences, we're going to send you to one. All those things are going to make it. So hybrid is huge now and moving forward. And that's going to be by far the biggest trend when it comes to the industry.

Virtual is always going to be a huge part of this. Introverts, people who can't travel as much, people with not as big travel budgets - when the corporation says, we're not going to send you to 20 conferences, we're going to send you to one...so hybrid is huge now and moving forward. And that's going to be by far the biggest trend when it comes to the industry.

Will (13:43):
But that's the obvious one, right? But all that is dependent on vaccines, PPE, attendee trust, all those things like that. Onsite screening and testing, says David, so important. Then there's this other path, which is none of that happening. And this is where we've been for the last, it's October, like eight months, right? This is where we have been. We have no idea what's happening, right? Deaths are still going up. You know, people are still getting sick. All those things like that. When I see, you know, people still trying to do hybrid events and things like that, it scares me still, but I don't think until we start to get those things on the right, that we're going to be still, when we have that, where we're at right now, it's going to be a hundred percent still virtual when it comes to it.

Will (14:31):
I think that, you know, I see all the time, these, these a couple of events popping up, but I see them as the exception to the rule, not the generalization of the rule a hundred percent when it comes to things. It's, you know, for example, whenever I see a hybrid event, I mean, I don't know how many people have actually attended a hybrid event quite yet, but they're not what we used to see. We're not putting a thousand people in a ballroom, we're putting like a hundred. And when we put a hundred, we were expecting 500 and only a hundred people actually showed up. So I think it's important to know that virtual is here to stay and that, unless all of this happens over here, that virtual is going to be the King. Then the other really important thing to say. And I think that Nick Borelli has a really good point with this, is that we want to imagine this as a straight line, right?

Will (15:20):
In that hybrid on what, you know, first we're going to get a vaccine, then we're going to get the attendees trust. Then we're going to get onsite testing and trucks, things like that. And we're going to have this perfect, you know, path for it. But you know what? This is actually going to look like when it comes to it, is that we're going to go over here. Then we're going go over here. Then we'll go over here. Then we're going over. Here we go. There, here, here, here, here, here, here. There is no straight path for how this is going to happen. It's going to be all over the place. We're going to see something like a vaccine come out and everyone's like, all right, let's start planning that conference, doing it in-person. And then they're going to say, we can't get the vaccine out to only 1% of the population in the media or Oh, Hey, wait, there's a vaccine, but people just aren't sure whether it works or not.

Will (16:03):
You gotta now, okay, we've got to, we've got to wait for, you know, attendee trust over here and Oh you know, we get the best onsite testing. In fact, you can just like touch someone and know if they have COVID and tell them to go home. Right. I don't know if that testing could ever happen, but you know, that's going to not necessarily create the attendee trust that we need. So, yes. When James asked, is there another industry term for virtual being floated around, something to keep in mind too, is digital events as well. However, I will tell you right now, when it comes to looking at Google results, attendees aren't Googling hybrid events. They're not Googling digital events, they're Googling virtual events right now. It's the term that we got stuck with it. I know that it's not necessarily accurate.

Will (16:46):
It's kind of like podium and how podium, isn't the actual thing that we describe it as, right? If you don't know what I'm talking about, ask your AV nerd friends what a podium is. But when it comes to the, the, the virtual and digital hybrid world that we're going into, I don't think attendees, even if we can make a safe environment, I don't think they're ready quite yet, but that's me just getting on my high horse when it comes to it. So one thing to keep in mind again, is that this is not going to be a straight line. So this is a big caveat, everything like that. Yeah. Dan says lectern, lectern, all right. So, whoops. As I start dragging and dropping stuff all around. All right. So moving on when it comes to this entire like, you know, path and kind of where we're going, it's important to remember the human element of everything that we're going to do in design, right?

Will (17:37):
So whether you're going hybrid or virtual or whatever it is, you have to remember that there are people that are attending our events, right. It's especially really hard when we go virtual, because they become profiles. They become IP addresses, all those things like that. But we have to remember that it's, you know, it's, it's, it's Bob over here is going to our event and that he has kids, he has objectives he's trying to achieve. He has career passions and, you know, all that sort of stuff, you know, it's super, duper easy sometimes when we especially start amassing people into user visitors, but it's that people and remember the human element whenever it comes to designing your entire event.

There is no straight path for how this is going to happen. It's going to be all over the place.

Will (18:12):
All right. Alrighty. So that's out of the way, that's our caveat when it comes to things. So let's talk about the cool, neat things. When it comes to the trends that I'm seeing and things that I think are important now, moving forward. So you guys literally get to be the first person to see this, by the way, this is like, I haven't talked 2021 trends to anybody. You're the first. So I'm just excited to be here. All right.

Will (18:35):
So let's talk about one of my first things, which I'm going to go all over the place. These aren't from like most important to the least important. But let's, let's just start with the ones that I, that I'll go in. So first one that I have when it comes to training is emphasis on speaker training. Right?

Will (18:57):
When we started all of this, I thought to myself, you know what, the speakers, the presenters, they're going to be the one. Wow. I can't type right today. They're going to be the ones who step up, we're going to see presenters who get good at using good cameras, who have lavalier microphones, who knew how to do their lighting the right way. But what we instead have seen is that we're still kind of getting by with people having Zoom-level quality conversations in front of thousands of people. Right. and I think that we definitely are looking at this world where speakers can't be the ones to be relied upon to give the good experience. I'll give you a great example of this. Far too often, we've now had speakers who we've moved beyond just saying, Hey, we can hire a professional speaker like Damon John, Seth Godin, you know, Simon Sinek to come and do our talks. But how do you fill a conference about, you know medical surgeries, with Simon Sinek? He might be the keynote, but he's just one hour out of the whole presentation.

Will (20:00):
Usually when it comes to it, our presentations, our schedule design, content looks like this. We have lots of breakout rooms. BOs. General session content, usually kind of represented this much. And then social represented this much. Well, if this is like 90% of your content and breakout rooms and doing lots of little live streams all over the place, well, why wouldn't you put your focus then on this area? What instead happens is that we put the onus on the speaker to do everything. And I think what's happening when it comes to these experiences that we're realizing, as much as we have all moved into this digital world, some people got left behind, but there's still this in-between gap that's happening. People who are super technologically not savvy, and then, but have the passion to still try to present and do all these things like that. And what I've realized is that as planners, we kind of expect that speakers will figure it out.

Will (21:00):
They got to know how to use Zoom by now, right? They gotta know how to record video of themselves, even on their phone. I'll tell you right now, we just did an event this last weekend. And we saw the craziest things happen that you just think, Oh, they're going to read the instructions. They know what they're doing, who would ever do that? I saw a presentation from a car while it was moving. I saw one person who had to present, and in order to record the presentation, they were being FaceTimed and someone was recording the screen of that person FaceTiming in. I've seen the craziest stuff ever. And we assume to ourselves that, Oh, you know, the speakers are going to figure it out. You know, what's going to happen instead. You know how we're going to do speaker training. It's going to be you. You're the speaker trainer now. Okay. Not necessarily you, but we need to start recognizing that we're going to need more training for our speakers. What does this mean? Budget allocation towards speaker training. It's one of the first things I see get asked when it comes to virtual, digital, hybrid events, is that we just assume they'll figure it out. Right?

Will (22:08):
So, things like, for example, rehearsals. Right. I always see those things tend to get axed. Right? All the things that we were talking about at the beginning of March saying, you're going to need lots of rehearsals. You make sure everybody's good to go. All that speaker training is going to be go, gone. So what does this mean? Well, it means things like, for example, maybe you need an @conference.com. You know, a support email for your speaker. So maybe like speaker support, I'm just going to write speaker, like, and you guys obviously know what I'm writing. So maybe having an email address, maybe, you know, asking a technical production company to create a 1-800 number that people can call into, but then also as well, recognizing that all these things cost money.

Will (22:58):
So you got to make sure that he put that in your budget when it comes to it. But what's interesting is that when it comes to speaker training and making sure you have things like, for example, the time for everyone to help get it in things like, for example, a big trend that I'm seeing as well, is that instead of saying, Hey, speakers, record your presentations and send them in and we'll play them on demand. Instead, what I'm seeing is that we take a browser window and we put a technician in it with a headset, you know, just kind of like you would have like at a normal conference and then doing a split screen with the speaker onstage, and then doing a nice prerecord, having a whole session time for basically a technician to sit down in person and just have them record the content.

Will (23:39):
Right. It makes it easy. They understand how to log in to Zoom. But for some reason, we tell them to record it, you get these crazy wild presentations when it comes to it. The other thing to keep in mind, a big thing that I'm seeing is an emphasis on recognizing that it's not just the speakers who need help, but also the attendees, right? I think attendees actually are getting pretty smart now. They're figuring it out. They know Chrome is what you need. You know, they get it that if it doesn't work, try refreshing. Maybe it's my internet connection, but you still have some attendees who need some actual support. So always keep that in mind, that attendee support that will be needed. You know, I talk about this in all my 2021, 2022, end of 2019, 2018, 2017 is you got to focus on understanding your attendees and thinking strategically, look at your buyer personas.

Will (24:30):
If you know that your like attendees are like age 60 plus, you know, they're doctors, you know, all that sort of stuff. Well, maybe they need more training, but if you're like doing an event for a bunch of like, you know, millennials who you know, also are YouTubers, right? All those things like that, that you might not need as much attendee support, they'll figure it out right. When it comes to it. James brings up a good point. Speaker green rooms where panelists and hosts can familiarize themselves ahead of time. But again, recognize that that takes some costs to, it takes some time, you no longer can just have a green room, like the speaker ready room, where he just said, Hey, yeah, go in that room and you know, you can plug your mic in your computer and figure it out yourself.

Will (25:09):
Instead, you need a room staffed with someone who's technical who can walk them through it. Right. And the thing to remember is the obvious is not always obvious when it comes to it. All right. The next thing that I'm seeing when it comes to trends, I'm a little bit all over the place. Look at the, the leveling up. Let's just draw a bar graph for this one. Let's do it this way. That, you know, when we, when we first started doing all of this, you know, transition that we've been going through when it comes to the events industry, you know, virtual represented, like 0% of the market, right. Maybe like 1%, half a percent of the market, right. By now we're at like a hundred percent, right? Yeah. Maybe like 99%. There's a couple of people out that are still doing the hybrid events, are trying to do it in person and stuff.

We had this chance to experiment and try things...You could try a new event platform in front of your attendees. If it broke, everyone said, look, we're all in this together...but now as time has kind of gone on, you have to have less and less mistakes as time's going on. The attendees are getting smarter...by now they've attended a hundred virtual events. So what does that mean? That means that you need to level up your virtual experience.

Will (25:54):
Right. Yeah. But like, we've been seeing this massive increase in the number of virtual events that happened. Well here, this is like March, right? And this is maybe like October during the, this time, right, there was a little bit of like chaos ensue, right. We had this chance to experiment and try things. Right. You could try a new event platform in front of your attendees. If it broke, everyone said, look, we're all in this together. Woo. You know, but now as time has kind of gone on, you have to have less and less mistakes as time's going on. The attendees are getting smarter. They've gone from, you know, attending one virtual event or maybe they were attending like 200 in there by now they've attended a hundred virtual events. So what does that mean? That means that you need to level up your virtual experience when it comes to it.

Will (26:43):
That means, you know, Zoom as your primary, you know, platform is not going to cut it anymore guys. People are done with Zoom. No one wants to be in Zoom anymore. Right. And for things like this, a webinar, it's totally okay. I'm talking about like, multi-room conferences. We want people to network, you know, things like that, but Zoom not okay guys. Things like, for example, Hey, you know what? Let's, let's just give them lots of content and have them figure it out with no ability to like navigate the content and find it very, very easily. That's not okay anymore either. Right? We need to level up our virtual experiences. The time for mistakes is going away. We probably maybe only have two more months, the rest of this year, for you to try new things. We're going to see that as we get to December, boom, everyone's going to be starting to plan for 2021. And you're not going to be able to, you know try out that new platform. It's gotta be rock solid. It's gotta be good because you know, what's going to happen is that attendees are gonna come back and be in the chat saying, this sucks. I'm going somewhere else. Why did I spend my hard earned money, all that sorta stuff, the expectation of the attendee is going up. And so you need to level up with that as well. Again, all along the way.

Will (27:57):
By the way, if you guys have questions, please post them in the Q and A of the Zoom that would help me a ton just because I wanna make sure I don't miss any of your guys's questions. You'll also see that there's a nice upvote functionality too. So if you see a question you like, please upvote them all to the top. Just so then that way I don't miss anything that everyone wants the answers to as well.

Will (28:15):
Good stuff so far, this is good. Keep the questions coming guys. And I'll be jumping into them a little bit more. All right. I probably should have started with this one first, but another big trend that I'm going to see, just going to draw a big gigantic red plus when it comes to this, is health and safety, right? It was really interesting. I think two years ago, safety was like such a huge trend for the events industry. We had so many like, you know, shootings and all these terrible things happening to large scale events. And then last year we were like, safety is great, physical safety, everybody understands it. And now we're focusing on cybersecurity when it comes to it. Well, this year we have to go back to safety of attendees. So what does this mean? It means that, you know, if let's say, for example, we take that path to the right. A vaccine comes out, attendees start getting trust back. They are going to have to see a list. I can tell you right now that I decided to go see Tenant in theaters. And I can tell you right now, like we have this like small group of friends that we haven't like gone to see anybody.

Will (29:25):
So we're like our quarantine crew. Shout outs if you have a quarantine crew in the chat, and what was the first question I asked? When I said, Hey, I found the theater that we're going to. They said, okay, can you show me the list of all the things they're doing to make sure we're safe? How many spaces are between the chairs, how many hand sanitizer stations do they have? Are snacks open? This is like a group of people just going to see a movie. We were going to be there for two hours. If you're going to plan on doing a three-day conference that people are spending thousands of dollars to attend, they're going to ask questions, right? They're going to want to know what's your protocol look like. They're going to want to see that you're using a professional cleaning company - that every time someone sits on a chair, that chair gets bleached down and acid dipped.

Will (30:08):
I don't know. But when it comes to the health and safety of your attendees there, it's, it's going to be number one again. Right? But the difference is we're not looking at preparing for metal detectors and patdown searches. We're going to be talking about temperature checks, we're going to talk about about making sure that you're cleaning everything, that you chose a venue that understands that. But here's the thing to remember all of this costs money, right? I remember the first time, one of my, we did a podcast episode on icons with Comic-Con and they talked about the first time they ever had an active shooter show up.` The next year, their safety bill went through the roof. It was like, I think their, their security bill was something like, let's say it was like $10,000. It jumped to like a quarter million dollar security bill, because they had to put stations everywhere.

Will (30:52):
Attendees were pissed with how long the lines are. Be prepared for that change. When it comes to all these changes, speaker trainings, we talked about health and safety, how do you level up your events? You might be thinking yourself, well, this is a lot of stuff for a planner to have to worry about. Like one person to worry about all this sort of stuff is a lot. Right? But that's why it's important for you to start to build your future team for your events. Don't just stick into realizing that you have to do everything. You can't do everything. Back in the day, if you needed a presenter and show their slides on screen, what'd you do? You hired an AV company to do that. If you needed somebody to make awesome food for your attendees, you weren't in the back of the kitchen, making hot pockets, you hired a catering company, right?

If you're going to plan on doing a three-day conference that people are spending thousands of dollars to attend, they're going to ask questions, right? They're going to want to know what's your protocol look like. They're going to want to see that you're using a professional cleaning company - that every time someone sits on a chair, that chair gets bleached down and acid dipped.

Will (31:35):
The same thing is going to happen. We're going to see the rise of health and safety companies for events. We're going to see the rise of people who do just speaker training for virtual, all that sort of stuff when it comes to it as well. So that's pretty obvious when it comes to safety. The one important thing, I'll break this off too. And this was actually I think, more of a 2020 trend, but it's going to continue into 2021 is that, and it was one of our trends in 2019 is the idea of internet security, safety, right? Internet security, internet safety, right? Data security is huge. Right? Right. All of these things that we worry about, it's actually not the things we worry about. It's actually the thing that we ignore more than often, right? We're totally willing to give away our email address and our first name and last name to get a free sign up, to get that free BMW.

Will (32:22):
Right. And you know, when we get attendee lists, what do we do? We download the attendee list as an Excel document. We, we edit it offline and then we reupload it and it sits on our computer. Sometimes for years. I bet you, if I looked at your computer right now, I bet you have an attendee list with contact information. First name, last name, maybe addresses, maybe phone numbers, maybe social security numbers on your computer somewhere. It's terrifying when it comes to it. But data security is even more important. How many people in the last 24 hours have heard about a major hack that's happened? If you haven't here's one, did you know that there's a group that's sending out emails, looking like they're from McAfee, telling them that they need to update their McAfee internet virus software. And when you click on the link, it takes you to a legitimate site, actually it takes you to GitHub, which is like the number one database for downloading software.

Will (33:13):
It looks totally legit. Well, when you download it, it downloads malware that is undetectable by any antivirus software in the entire world. What does that mean? That malware is collecting all the information. This stuff is happening every day. And data is even more important now because we no longer have the ability to keep all the data in a computer at our office. But instead it's being taking home, we're using that laptop to let the kid watch YouTube videos, right? They're playing Fortnite on the same computer. Data breaches are huge when it comes to this. Quick trends that I'm seeing is that a lot of companies are saying, Hey, we're hiring event production companies to do our virtual events, right? They understand cameras, all these things like that. We'll have them build up the platforms. I bet you, most of those people aren't focused on data security when it comes to their companies.

Will (34:02):
If you don't know, what the term DPA means, be afraid, be afraid when it comes to your attendees data a hundred percent. So if you don't know what DPA is, it's a Data Protection Addendum. It gets added to your contract saying things like what they're going to do. If you don't know the basics, not even the basics, you gotta know a little bit of medium style stuff on GDPR, you got to start learning that sort of stuff when it comes to it.

Will (34:28):
We're in this age where there's going to be so much attendee data, it's flying all over the place. And the last thing that we want to do is risk our attendees information getting put out on the internet and losing our trust of our attendees. It's the same idea that we want to make sure we have metal detectors at the door. We want to make sure that our platforms are GDPR compliant. Wow. Time flies when it comes to presentations, doesn't it guys. All right. So let's, let's leave it at that. Those will be a couple trends that I'll start you guys off with when it, when it comes to it. But you guys are starting to ask some questions. So I'm going to give some opportunity right now. I'd love for you guys in the Q and A to ask questions on what you guys are seeing, what questions, what trends are you seeing that you're like, is this a trend?

Will (35:10):
What should, what should I do with this? I'll answer anything. Normally, I like to joke and say, you can ask me anything, including the shoe size I'm wearing right now, but I'll tell you right now, COVID style, I'm not wearing any shoes. Got to love it. All right. So questions are starting to come on in, and I'd love to answer them for you guys in here in the chat as well. In the chat, post them over in the Q and A thing, just so then that way we can put them in, but keep them coming.

Will (35:35):
All right. So Alison asks, what are the best virtual event platforms to include ability for networking? There's a lot of platforms, full disclosure for everyone to know when it comes to these questions. And when it comes to the question of what's the best platform, my company gets paid to pick platforms for clients and set them up and implement them and run the events for everybody. So a lot of what we do is to answer this question for you. We get paid to do this, so I can't necessarily just give away the information, but there's also a second reason why that's the little bit of the selfish reason, but the more important reason when it comes to people who ask like, Hey you know, what do what's the best platform for XYZ? More importantly, I think what's important is that I have to take 10 more steps back with you. So Alison, in this case, the questions that I would ask is things like how many attendees are you going to have? How much of your content is live versus on demand? Do you want a community functionality that's going to last, you know, a month after, a year round? Is it just for the event? What's your budget look like? There's a lot of questions.

When it comes to all these changes, speaker trainings, we talked about health and safety, how do you level up your events? You might be thinking yourself, well, this is a lot of stuff for a planner to have to worry about. Like one person to worry about all this sort of stuff is a lot. Right? But that's why it's important for you to start to build your future team for your events. You can't do everything. Back in the day, if you needed a presenter and show their slides on screen, what'd you do? You hired an AV company to do that. If you needed somebody to make awesome food for your attendees, you weren't in the back of the kitchen making hot pockets, you hired a catering company, right?

Will (36:40):
It's the same conversations that you used to have when you were trying to decide what your venue would be, right? You wouldn't just say what's the best venue in the United States to have a corporate conference that allows people to hang out in the halls and have a good time. Like there's about like a thousand, right? It started with that list. Okay. Well next question is what's, what's your budget? What region do you want to be in? All those things like that would come into play when it comes to it. So it's really hard for me to give platform recommendations without doing a deep dive for you. If that is something that you like want a company like Endless, please just give us a shout. My link to our site, helloendless.com is in there, but I think when it comes to the platforms, the important thing for me to also say is that this presentation is obviously for 2021 trends.

Will (37:22):
I'll tell you right now, the platform that is number one in October 2020, if your event is in October 2021, it's not going to be the same platform. I'll tell you, in the past five months, we have changed our top pick for platform three times, three times. And we've literally kept evolving as we go along. In fact, the contract that you signed for your event in 2020 for virtual events, it's not gonna be the same platform. Be willing to evolve, be willing to change. I'm all for loyalty and building upon it, right? Once you know, you know, whatever it is, event mobi, swap card, whatever platform you ended up choosing. It's hard to like say I got to learn a whole new one, but at the same time too, you gotta be willing to pivot, move fast. All those things like that. Sorry, we gotta take a shot if you said the word pivot, but just be prepared for when it comes to that as well.

Will (38:13):
So I hope that's understandable, sorry for a little bit of a non-answer, but I just want to make sure that I'm being respectful because there's so many opportunities when it comes to platforms. What I will tell you is that if you are looking at platforms, if you're looking for networking opportunities, here's the things that I like to look for. There needs to be an amazing like database directory style system that allows people to see who is attending this event. Like, for example, if I don't know that Alison works at Microsoft and I just have to search, you know, Alison to find her name, Oh, she works at Microsoft. I want to be able to like, look through, remember back in the day, when we attended in-person events, we would look around at people's badges and be like, Oh my gosh, you work at Pinterest.

Will (38:55):
Hey, I'd love to chat with you. I'd love to see what you guys are working on when it comes to events. We spark up a conversation, turns out we have a good fit to work together. Boom, networking. Right? Well, when it comes to virtual, what I'm seeing a lot of is that it's just like your, your chances to meet each other in the chat, or, you know, knowing the person's name or being in a couple of like networking rooms on Remo, right? Like that that's really all you get. But I think what you need is an awesome directory experience that allows people to look around, see who's attending the event. Next thing you need to have some sort of rules in place for your event to prevent people from spamming the crap out of people. If people are just getting hit with random messages, from people that aren't targeted in any sort of way, like it's going to make people say, like, why do I want to even have my messages on, I'm gonna turn this off.

Will (39:37):
Or why did I even put my company name in here? But the best way you can do that is to set grounds for your event, right? The same way we would set grounds, like don't cheer during the general session, if that was one of your rules, right? Set your ground rules for your entire event. The next thing I think is that you need some ability for the, your platform to recommend people to attend. As much as we want to have this directory say, find anybody. There's gotta be some sort of suggestion engine, some ability for people to tag themselves through interests or common job descriptions or tracks that they're attending. All those things would be great when it comes to it. And then the last thing that I love when it comes to this is that it needs to be facilitated. If you're planning on putting all your attendees and just expect them to network, it's not going to happen, facilitate them.

I'll tell you right now, the platform that is number one in October 2020, if your event is in October 2021, it's not going to be the same platform...Be willing to evolve, be willing to change.

Will (40:19):
Great example of this is brain dates. I think that they have a very simple technology, but where they win is their facilitation is bar none better than anybody else. So there you go. That's my, a better answer to hopefully help you out, but you can see why there's just so many. All right. Yeah. Next question. David Landraf asks the question -platforms you're seeing the most useful for interactive gamification on breakouts? I think when it comes to gamification there's definitely a lot of platforms that have been behind when it comes to it. I think when it comes to gamification, one of the strongest leaders for a long time has been EventMobi. When it comes to it, they've been really great. I also love EventMobi because they're so security focused when it comes to things. But I'd also love to know to your guys' examples.

Will (41:01):
I, I honestly guys, one of the big reasons why I also don't recommend platforms is I don't get in the weeds, knowing what platforms, I'm more about strategic thinking when it comes to like how your event's gonna evolve, you know, like honestly, whatever platform you choose, you can still make a great experience. Like I think it's just like the idea of saying like, Hey, what's better, you know, the, a Honda or a Toyota when driving. Well, it depends on the driver maybe too or how you decide to customize it, whatever it may be. There's just so many options when it comes to it out there when it comes to platforms. So, all right, platform recommendations, you guys just really want platform recommendations. Well, we're going to change the name of this talk from 2021 event trends to platform recommendations with Will. Laura - when it comes to non-Zoom I have to know what your guys are trying to do.

Will (41:46):
One important thing to understand is that anything browser based when it comes to video is that Chrome can't handle putting a lot of people on one screen in the browser. That's why things like Google meets really struggled to do like the thousand people on screen like Zoom does, have you ever noticed too, like, you know, even if you hop on a Microsoft teams, meaning web-based, it says like, Hey, you need to download the app to get more people on screen. A lot of these apps require software and also additional hardware to be able to run more people on screen. Zoom is by far the leader when it comes to this video processing and everything like that. If you want to put a thousand people on screen and get them all to talk to each other. Only way to do that is Zoom not going to lie when it comes to.

Will (42:28):
And it's sad to say, I, I, you saw me. I hate, I'm not a big fan of Zoom when it comes to things, but Zoom can do some things really, really well. But yeah, if you're looking at webinar experiences, you can look at things like big marker and 23 is also good. I just got to know more information guys, so, all right. Let's dive some more into questions. Madison, hello, Madison. Glad to see you here. Do you think deliverable swag bags, carrying boxes will be paired with virtual entertainment moving forward? Do you think it's impactful and worth the cost? Yes. A hundred percent. People are so used to the digital clicking on screen, ooo this graphic looks cool video, but people miss feeling things, right? The tactical touch, the eating of food and things like that. Consider a swag bag a hundred percent.

Will (43:10):
We've been pitching them for so long since the beginning of of, of the year. I think that they're super duper important. Budget to send your attendees something, hire a company to manage it for you. You aren't in charge of logistics. Don't try to be, have another company be the 1-800 line. If someone didn't get their swag box, they can work with that company all day long on there. Great question. A hundred percent worth the cost people miss the physical. Ooh, we got some more time. Rochelle says will the most of the corporate and nonprofit jobs be remote for the next year? Yes. A hundred percent. For those who don't know Endless has been a remote company for seven years now. And I think remote is the future a hundred percent. Alright Don asked any thoughts or words of wisdoms for large venues as we move into 2021, you're about to host a call with 150 leaders.

Someone in virtual needs to say they had just as great of an experience with someone in person. It's not the discounted ticket.

Will (44:00):
We are seeing weddings and hybrid events as of right now. Yeah. I think the reason why weddings are willing to happen is that they don't have this, like, like they know all their attendees, right. They can tell grandpa like, Hey, come, it's important for you to be here. Right. And if grandpa doesn't show up, okay, no big deal. But if you do this, like, I don't know, IBM has a conference, and says yeah everybody come in person. And one person gets COVID they're at so much more risk for that to happen, right? Like if a wedding happens and someone gets COVID, I don't think anyone's gonna like sue the bride and groom and be like, how dare you. You got me COVID I don't know. I also don't watch the news that much. Maybe that's already happened. When it comes to large venues, what I would recommend is prepare your venue for that hybrid experience.

Will (44:42):
So here's the best things you can do. Start making sure your venue is wired up with the best, fastest, most amazing wifi six ever. That's the new trend of wifi. Make sure it has that. Make sure there's hard line, internet connection, every room in the front of the room, in the back of the room. So then that way, the inside of these breakout rooms, we can live stream to everybody, right? Work with your AV partners to figure out what hybrid options they have available. If PSAV is on property for you as a venue, make sure PSAV is working with you to do that sort of stuff. But I think venues need to start figuring out how they're going to enhance technologically their venues. I don't think most venues' wifi could handle having all their attendees on the app at the same time. The next hybrid mobile app I think that's going to come around is going to be really intensive on the internet connection, because it's going to be pulling lots of data. It's going to be like the personal device to be able to navigate both virtually and in person together. It's not going to be just a schedule app, download documents, Q and A. It's going to be like a literal, full experience where people will video chat on and that's going to suck up Wifi, like crazy at venues.

Will (45:42):
So, great question. I hope that helps answer your question. Jeremy says, are there unique ways to hybridize an in real life event beyond simply streaming the staged programming? Yes. My definition of hybrid, I should have talked about this at the beginning. My definition of hybrid is not, not just in-person virtual. It is the complete melding of the two audiences. This is hybrid also, I believe in the tenet of this.

Will (46:11):
And when it comes to the the hybrid aspect of things, it's not just attendees on virtual, virtual over here, they need to be able to interact, to flow a hundred percent. Someone in virtual needs to say they had just as great of an experience with someone in person. It's not the discounted ticket. It's the idea that they are together as one. So what does that mean? That means that the people networking virtual can connect with the people in person, the in-person can connect with the virtual, virtual and virtual, in person and in person, all those things like that. And what that means is that at any given moment, if I wanted to, I could stumble upon and be called upon if I'm in person and be like, huh, Oh, Joanne from, you know, the virtual worlds hoping on, we hop on a video call, Hey, how's it going?

Will (46:51):
Oh my gosh, I saw you're attending this. What'd you think? Oh yeah, it's good. Whatever that looks, like the blurring of the audiences a hundred percent. So that's important to think about when it comes to strategy of hybrid. Other ideas that I have, if you're doing things like hosted buyer appointments, maybe for example, setting it up so there's some screens for some hosted fireplace where people can sit down and meet with people who are virtually away. Maybe having things like, for example kiosks around the event that people can hang out in. I've experienced hybrid in a very unique way a couple of years ago. I was lucky enough to get one of those robots with the wheels that can drive around and you're on a camera. That's a great way to do hybrid as well. There's so much things. But the important thing I think is to focus on is if your event is about content, focus on content, if your events about networking, focus on networking, you gotta be super stringent when it comes to everything all day long. So thank you, Jeremy, for the great question.

Will (47:43):
Joey, do you have any go-to sources for staying up-to-date on data privacy laws? Like what States to follow suit to after the California consumer protection act GDPR and the like. Here's the best suggestion I have. If you want to make sure that you're ready for GDPR or California protection is to just start following the rules already. Endless as a company, we do all events that have attendees all over the place. So we have to follow GDPR. However, I'll tell you, we started following GDPR because it's the best thing to do moving forward. Talk to your lawyers, get a data protection officer in your company and start making yourself aware of what GDPR is and everything like that as well. If you're like the CEO of the company, you're going to need a data protection officer. If you're a lot lower start shouting up saying you need a data protection officer within the company.

Will (48:30):
I think that it's important that whether the law tells you have to follow it, it is now best practices, right? But for a long time, spam was not a lot like the can't spam act and don't spam, were not laws, but the best companies didn't spam people. Why? Because they knew that was the best user experience to be having. So start following the rules now. Here's the best part do it now, before everyone has to do it. And then when everyone else has to do it, don't be panicking and freaking out. It's like the idea that we went remote before everyone went remote, we obviously didn't predict a pandemic happening, but when it happened, our company was ready. We weren't panicking. We were ready. We had been doing this awhile. So that's my best suggestion when it comes to that. Ooh, another upvoted question.

Do not make your virtual event free. If you have good content and value, charge for that value.

Will (49:12):
Jeremy said, how do you price a virtual event ticket? It seems like some are free, but others hundreds, even charging thousands of dollars. Do not make your virtual event free. If you have good content and value, charge for that value. Look at other events that your buyer personas, if you don't know what a buyer persona is, Google it. Or also look on our site. I'll post in here, something about personas and here in full on the Google doc, but look at your personas. What kind of events are they attending? How much are they paying when it comes to it? My suggestion is that it's always easier to come down in price in the future. But if you say your event's free five bucks, 10 bucks, whatever it is. And then now you need to get to a hundred bucks because you need to elevate the experience and make budget. Yikes. That's going to be really hard to tell an attendee. Why are they paying a hundred dollars when last year they paid $10. That's my best suggestion. Charge more. Know your value. Look at your buyer personas to figure out what they're charging.

Will (50:06):
All right. I got four more minutes, man. We've got more questions. Should I keep going, Hannah,

Hannah (50:10):
If you want to take one more, go for it. And then I'll jump in.

Will (50:14):
Let's do this. Okay. Who, whose questions should I pick? Or this is, how about this? I'm going to give everyone a chance to open the Q and A and upvote the best question. You have 10 seconds to upvote the question that you want answered right now, we'll see if we can get people to pick the best one. We're going to like crowdsource this one. Also, if you're not voting on the Q and A, can we get like a quick wave? Raise hands, maybe stretch quick stretch. All right. I'm actually going to take a glass of water and breathe for a second.

Will (50:47):
All right. Let me get five seconds to upvote the best question. Five, four, three, two. Of course there's a tie one. All right. We'll pick the top one. Robert asked, Oh, just got another one. Let's do this. Tcampinela says where's the best place to start to look for virtual event platforms? Example, finding the event venue, you look at size, you go like, yeah, BizBash start looking at the best venues or you Google like hotels in the area. Googling virtual event platforms. They're all sinking money into ads right now. So best recommendation is Google whatever tool you want to use - this is my best recommendation. If you take the DES course that I teach, I talk a little bit about this, but just Google best, whatever it is. And then take that first page of Google, open them up all in tabs.

Will (51:34):
See which ones are mentioned over and over again. Are there ones that are always at the top and when those ones are all at the top, then, you know, Hey, 10 lists out of 10, say this is the best one. Or, you know, five out of 10, say it's the best one. I better check this one out. But at least gives you a good idea to start looking at. Also pro tip, when it comes to virtual event planners, if they're like, their website looks ugly and you don't like it, the platform's not gonna look any better. They never do. They never like oh the product's better than our website. If their front end experience is uglier for their website and requesting quotes, chances are the platform's even worse. So always keep that in mind that you'll see that drop in quality from there. But boom, that's all the questions on here too. Also give you guys a chance really quickly if I can find it. See if I can show you guys my contact information on here too. I'll just post it in the Google doc. So if anybody wants to reach out to me, feel free to reach out to me in the Google doc. I'll also post some links in the chat or in the Google doc as well for some more information too. So. Woo.

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