The Future of

Corporate Events

Despite the shift to online, in-person interaction still has value

Within the past year, though, many companies have welcomed their employees back to the workplace full-time, while others are splitting their workdays between home and the office. These shifts have prompted the question: What should corporate events and meetings look like since the pandemic?

As a professional event planner with more than 25 years of experience planning corporate and non-profit events, I still see great benefits of having in-person events. While I recognize and appreciate the flexibility and accessibility that hybrid and fully online programs can offer, I don’t think we should be too quick to write off in-person gatherings. Whether it be a meeting, conference, retreat, or a party, here are just a few reasons we still need them:

Online fatigue: While connecting online has certainly created efficiency and allowed organizations to expand their reach, many people are feeling burnt out from so much of it. Also, we’re missing out on those organic, personal conversations we’d strike up with people on the side when meeting with larger groups in person. That’s tough to replicate online. A day packed with attending online meetings or engaging in a virtual conference can leave someone feeling “Zoomed out” instead of energized to be interacting with their colleagues.

Attention span: When we made the switch to online events during the peak of the pandemic, event planners like me quickly learned that this transition required curtailing the length of programming. It’s easier for many people to get distracted when participating in an online experience vs. an in-person one. (Ask yourself: How many times have you listened to an online program, while also checking emails, responding to text messages or even tackling a small household chore?) Consequently, this multitasking can lead to people missing out on information.

Networking: Meeting as a large group online doesn’t allow for one-on-one interactions with current colleagues and space for introductions to new ones. The small talk that’s essential to getting to know people on a more personal level oftentimes gets lost in cyberspace.

Employee and client retention: Creating connections with people is a more memorable experience in person. The setting, the food, the music, etc. help bring the environment to life and set the stage for socializing. Hosting a corporate event, a client appreciation party, or an employee social gathering are all ways to make people feel valued and, in turn, foster their desire to want to continue to be part of a team.

Brand awareness: In-person happenings are an opportunity to share the story of your brand through photo opportunities/selfie stations, branded merchandise/swag, decor, and other party favors. If a goal for your event is to not only bring people together but also keep them talking about your organization after the fact (and sharing their event photos/videos and merch with others), an online experience can’t compete with an in-person one in this arena.

As an event planner, I strive to help all of my clients identify the purpose of their event so I can work with them to produce an experience that’s beneficial and aligns with their goals—while also being memorable and meaningful. While there’s a time and a place for online or hybrid experiences for corporations and non-profit organizations, let’s not discard in-person ones as a thing of the past. When planned and executed strategically, they are an asset.


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